Blog

Under Our Roof: What have we learnt so far?

Katie Potter (Programme Lead, Young People in Care)
Friday 15th February 2019
On International Care Day 2019, we thought we would reflect on what we have learnt over the past two years through developing our new programme Under Our Roof. It is designed specifically to support young people in care (both residential and foster care) and their carers to manage conflict effectively, and to support them to build and maintain safer and more supportive relationships.

Lesson 1: Young People with lived experience have been the programme’s greatest asset

 

When Leap decided to embark on this venture, we knew in order to develop the most effective programme with the greatest impact for young people within the UK care system, our advisory panel, curriculum design and development days needed the voice of young people with lived expertise of the care system." data-share-imageurl="https://www.leapconfrontingconflict.org.uk/sites/default/files/field/image/International%20Care%20Cover%20Image.jpg">

On International Care Day 2019, we thought we would reflect on what we have learnt over the past two years through developing our new programme Under Our Roof. It is designed specifically to support young people in care (both residential and foster care) and their carers to manage conflict effectively, and to support them to build and maintain safer and more supportive relationships.

Lesson 1: Young People with lived experience have been the programme’s greatest asset

 

When Leap decided to embark on this venture, we knew in order to develop the most effective programme with the greatest impact for young people within the UK care system, our advisory panel, curriculum design and development days needed the voice of young people with lived expertise of the care system.  We are grateful to the three young people who have worked with us on the curriculum design and development days that have informed the direction of the programme thus far and continue to share creative input to our programme team and trainers.  

Our advisory panel, chaired by Tim Loughton MP, includes lived expertise from young person's and carer's contributing to the policy influencing objective and guiding the development of the programme to enable the greatest impact. 

Over the past two years, through focus groups, interviews and conversations, we have spoken to 89 young people (both young people currently in care, and care leavers) and 112 adults (including foster carers, residential children’s home staff, social workers, youth workers, participation workers, heads of services, academics etc.), reviewed best practice from across the UK, and conducted an in-depth literature review, to better understand how best to support young people in care to transition successfully into adulthood, and in doing so, achieve their full potential.

 

Lesson 2: Resourcing Carers will have a lasting and positive impact on young people in care

 

The feedback we received from young people and professionals alike are that values like ‘safe’ and ‘supportive’ are essential to building stable relationships between young people and their carers. Specifically supporting carers to develop the skills needed to flourish in their roles.  Carers play a vital role in the lives of those under their care and often the sole person a young person relies on for both emotional and material support. Through our focus groups, young people suggested that they want carers “to be able to help us through emotions and how you feel” and be able to “give emotional and psychological support”.

Absolutely, we want carers to be able to do this, but for them to do this in the most effective way, they also need to have the emotional and psychological support available to them too. One carer told us of the “emotional strain” they feel and another stating that at times they feel “misunderstood and undermined” and that “the system is not designed to support foster carers”. Think about what an air hostess tells you on a flight: “secure your own mask first, then assist the other person”. If you don’t have oxygen, you will be little to no help in getting oxygen to others. It’s the same premise here. If a carer is supported, both emotionally and psychologically then it is likely they will find it much easier to support the young person in their care in this way.  

 

Lesson 3: Building greater empathy and understanding between Young People and Carers, creates a common language in which to communicate 

 

In order to address the needs of both the young people and the carers, our suggested model of working is to work separately with the young people and the carers, working collaboratively with each group to explore what would work best for them in terms of delivery. Following the separate delivery, we would then hope to bring both young people and carers together to support the building of relationships, creation of communication, and to practice the conflict management tools together in a safe, facilitated space, supporting foster families or residential children's homes to think about how they might use what they have learnt in their daily lives. 

Some of the themes that emerged from our research and may feature in 2019 pilots are: 

 

 

 

Lesson 4: We are eager to connect with as many young people, organisations, and adult professionals as possible in 2019

We are currently piloting the programme with Break in a residential children’s home in Norwich, training all the staff and young people from one home, and in a foster care setting with TACT in Peterborough. We are so grateful for the expertise, intelligence, openness and generosity of those we spoke to in sharing their views, opinion and stories and to those who have supported us in the development of our curriculum and model.

If you are interested in being one of our partners for the second pilot phase in the summer, or when we roll it out later in the year please do get in touch with our Programme Lead, Katie Potter either by email: katie.potter@leapcc.org.uk or phone: 02075613700.

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Under Our Roof is fully funded by The Berkeley Foundation, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, The Kurt and Magda Stern Foundation and the Treebeard Trust, to whom we are very grateful for their ongoing support. 

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