When I first met Ian Gould and Jacqueline McCartney, we connected straight away, we began to discuss the care leaver journey and it became very apparent just how much synergy there was between Survive2Thrive and seeds of hope. As a result, I was invited by Ian and Jacqueline to join the steering group for #seedsofhope 2021.
The steering group comprised of a consortium of agencies, meeting once a month to create the first care experience conference in the Midlands. Seeds of Hope aim to promote care for life for CEP (care experienced) individuals. In 2019 the #careexpconf was initially launched in Liverpool and has produced a report covering its journey and findings. It's a powerful report that has managed to draw upon some important messages from the forgotten voices of Care Experienced individuals.
Targeted Aims of Seeds of Hope:
Aim 1. To work towards a Midlands Conference in 2021.
Aim 2. Promote the Top 10 messages across our Region.
Aim 3. To reach out to ever more diverse voices waiting to be heard.
Aim 4. Raise awareness about a lifetime of Love, Respect, Equality Dignity (Lifelong Links).
Aim 5. Maximise the potential of the involvement of NHS England.
Aim 6. Begin a discussion about how we afford to support different care generations for both the Journey to Conference day, Conference day and post-conference too.
Aim 7. Share our Midlands Journey and build on links across all Social and Professional Networks.
Aim 8. Fully utilise our Research and Academic Group to help to identify a Researcher and making available post-conference reports re outcomes.
The meeting was held at Birmingham children's Trust, and our host was Natalie Loon (Corporate Parenting Manager @Birmingham Children's Trust) Natalie kicked off the meeting with tons of avenues to support our aims and thus our pledge. The culture in the room was that of being mission-focused with compassion as an important factor. It was made clear from Natalie on behalf of Birmingham children's trust that support will be provided with Transformative Practice at the forefront. This message has also been followed up by Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield.
Those that attended the meeting were from backgrounds such as education, NHS, academia, Social Services, Leicestershire cares, The rees foundation, mental health, and many more. The diverse range of professionals was outstanding, I was blown away by just how much was going on and I felt honoured that I was becoming a part of sowing the seeds of hope.
In regards to those that are care experienced when we are looking at the continuum of adulthood combined with childhood issues, we must understand the need for a service that is authentic, consistent, patient and trauma-informed in its approach. Our care leavers of all ages, deserve to have professionals to create strong trusting relationships for the sustainability of our pledge.
It was clear quite early on that the culture of the meeting truly was the essence that of an interdisciplinary group. This has been something I have desired to be a part of for a long time. Our approach of being #ambitioustogether by planting seeds of hope, fell in alignment with survive2thrive. My knowledge of seeds of hope was given on the eve of the third meet up, I felt elation as I navigated through the meeting, gaining understanding of who was who and what was what.
Every child deserves to know there is a network of individuals that will be available through the stages of life that we face.
Alongside Katrina Goodman, survive2thrive aims to achieve - Aim 4. - Raise awareness about a lifetime of Love, Respect, Equality Dignity (Lifelong Links).
We plan to provide a voice for those that feel their stories have been lost and their trauma overlooked. We aim to provide a unique take on the care leavers Journey to send a message to our existing CEPs that you are not alone all our experiences are unique but our understanding is the same.
Some of the ways in which we as a consortium are planning on tackling our aims and thus strengthen our outcomes, is by creating positive partnerships with organisations, businesses and any relevant services. When we analysed training and employment, we understood the need for such agencies to be a part of the interdisciplinary culture.
Health and wellbeing were suggested to be a key element in achieving sustainability overall, as a trauma-informed practitioner, I made it known of my collaborative talks with rockpool to helps us provide the best delivery for our CEPs in regards to their health and wellbeing. A question we are considering is; how can we develop ways to provide a wider network of support for our CEPs in our local and national services when it comes to health, employment and housing?
Whilst discussing engagement and sustainability there was an understanding that trauma-informed practice was an important factor especially to those that have lost trust in the service and the system as a whole. The question we need to ask ourselves as parents is, what would happen if we left our own children to their own devices? Now imagine those that have been experienced abandonment, toxic stress, exploitation and lack of nurture. Can we justify clocking off at the eve of a vulnerable ceps 18th birthday? Can we say that those that meet criteria for support up to 21 or 25 years old are also ready to be recycled out into the world? What I would like to see is care for life, not just care up to a life phase. We hope by sowing seeds of hope far and wide that one day this may become a reality.
Keep up to date with #SeedsOfHope by signing up to our newsletter and keeping an eye on their webpage https://www.careexperiencedconference.com/midlands