Our Impact in 2017
In 2017 we delivered our mission of supporting and advising children in care and young care leavers through our services like the Care Advice Line as well as new initiatives such as our life coaching programme. The other part of our mission is helping the care system work better by ensuring that young people’s voices and perspectives shape policy and practice, and this year we helped young people around the country devise their own campaigns as well as linking them directly with decision makers locally and in Westminster.
Our free advice service helps young people and professionals navigate the care system and ensure that children in care and young care leavers are getting the support they are entitled to. Last year, we helped with rights and entitlements, housing, placements, education funding, mental health, wellbeing, relationships and more.
Our Passport to Parliament project in 2017 supported 53 young people to come together in small groups to learn how change happens and devise their own campaigns on the issues that mattered most to them. Young adults in prison, refugee young people in London and care leavers in the North East were just some of the young people helped to unleash their potential as powerful agents of change.
Become has provided the secretariat for the all-party parliamentary group in Westminster since it started in 1998. In 2017, we enabled over 100 care-experienced young people to share their views and experiences with MPs and members of the House of Lords, in addition to 197 care professionals and foster carers. The meetings influenced the national policy and legislative agenda in England, including the Children and Social Work Bill, the Residential Care Review and the Fostering Stocktake.
Our website Propel is unique: it sets out exactly what support and provision almost every university in the UK provides for care leavers. In 2017 the number of participating universities rose to a fantastic 95% and almost 12,000 people visited the website, meaning that many more care leavers are encouraged and inspired to go into higher education and able to make informed decisions about what and where to study.
Become has always been committed to making sure young people with experience of care are at the heart of our decision making. They drive the choices we make about the work we do and how it is delivered. In 2017 we set up two new young people’s boards: the Policy Advisory Group to shape our policy and campaigns work, and the Ideas and Input Council to contribute to our strategy and governance.
In April 2017 we launched a pilot coaching programme for care-experienced young people aged 16-25 in London, providing 1-1 and group coaching, using Positive Psychology to improve wellbeing and give them the tools to shape their future with optimism and resilience.
In 2017 we produced and distributed 25,400 copies of Become (our magazine for teenagers in care) and Become Junior (for younger children). Young people tell us the magazines help them to feel more understood and part of a care community – supported, inspired, informed and entertained.
In 2017 we developed eight new training and workshop packages for care professionals and young people, designed to spread knowledge and insights and develop skills so that life chances for young people from care can be improved.
In 2017 we worked with Voices from Care in Wales to conduct research about whether care-experienced young people think that stigma and stereotyping adversely affects them. We published our findings in 'Perceptions of Care'. We testified to the Education Select Committee inquiry on fostering, responded to government consultations, spoke at conferences and seminars and brought groups of young people together with policy-makers to discuss specific policy initiatives such as the Care Leavers' Covenant. We sat on advisory groups for academic research projects and for other charities, including the Howard League's project to reduce the criminalisation of children in residential care.