Young people from Somerset in Care Councils (SiCC) and Somerset Leaving Care Councils (SLCC) were presented with an award from A National Voice – a leading advocacy group for care leavers and children in care. Winning the ‘Collaboration’ category, the award recognised the efforts of young people on the Homes and Horizons project, a partnership between Somerset Council, Shaw Trust, and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust to develop 10 homes for children, 2 therapeutic schools and a therapeutic fostering service.
Young people from both SiCC and SLCC have been actively involved on the Homes and Horizons project from the start, helping the Council decide to partner with Shaw Trust. The young people visited children’s homes across the UK to see how they were run, interviewing staff and residents to find out what worked well. They also represented young people in decision-making groups, and spoke to neighbours about the project. They even selected furniture and décor and chose the name of this award-winning initiative – Homes and Horizons.
As a result, Somerset’s children have homes for children designed with people who have direct experience of the care system, which led to the Homes and Horizons project winning an MJ award for partnership and innovation.
Councillor Tessa Munt, Executive Lead Member for Children, Families & Education at Somerset Council said:
What an amazing achievement for our young people! It’s a credit to them that they have shaped the Homes and Horizons project with their knowledge and experience to ensure the homes work well for all young people who will live there now and in the future.
It’s been a privilege to work with these young people, who have formed closer bonds with each other, especially after travelling all around the UK. They have gained skills and the confidence to use them through this work. They’ve learned to present and negotiate, and been involved in commissioning and procurement for this award-winning project. The next stage of this partnership will see young people trained to be young inspectors to assist in checking the quality and standards in our homes.
Somerset Council and Shaw Trust benefit from the skills of a group of fantastic young people, generously given, and now they have received recognition with this award. Well done them!
Chris Luck, Chief Executive of Shaw Trust said:
At the heart of everything we do at Shaw Trust is the voice of the people we support. Too often services and systems are designed to deliver what those creating the services believe is required. But what most people need is to be heard and understood, they are the experts. Only by listening to them and understanding their thoughts, needs, wants, aspirations can we design and deliver services that properly support and empower people to progress.
Members of SiCC and SLCC who attended the event said:
Wow! What a day! Meeting inspirational and hard-working members of fellow care councils from up and down the country. Honestly, we had the most amazing day, it was really eye opening to not only be able to share our voices, opinions and experiences but also to hear those of others.