How to get involved
Our work to improve the care system is delivered alongside young people with experience of care.
We believe strongly in the expertise held by care-experienced young people and seek to create opportunities where their views can be shared directly with decision makers to improve policy and practice - in ways which are both meaningful and safe. We also aim to support care-experienced young people to become decision makers themselves and challenge the systems and structures which can act to deny them a role in designing a better care system.
For us, this work is guided by eight key principles.
Stories are powerful agents of change, but participation in our work to improve the care system is never conditional on sharing personal experiences. You are charge of your own story and how and where it’s shared, but we will support you to do this if you want to – respectfully and safely. We recognise the value of your lived experience in the unique perspective it offers and the expertise you bring, regardless of what you choose to share from your own experiences.
We can’t ignore who holds power and how it is wielded (and handed over) by individuals and organisations, including Become. Those who take part in our work need to share this power and the benefits – both individually and collectively. We must show our working with everyone involved and identify the different forms which power can take, even if it's uncomfortable to do so. Only then will we create more equitable structures which share power and responsibility.
Relationships come first, and our work to improve the care system begins with developing trust. We recognise this must be demonstrated before it's earned, especially for those who have had poor experiences with 'participation' work beforehand. We aim to harness the power of a community with shared ambitions and mutual respect, and to create safe spaces for you to meet others, feel comfortable, work collaboratively, and disagree well. Part of what we do is about the destination and the impact our work has, but we don't neglect the journey we all take to get there and what this brings to individuals and to Become.
Conversation is good, but creating things is even better. We believe that we all get more enjoyment, uncover richer insights and achieve greater impact when we’re producing something together to illustrate where your efforts have gone. Your participation shouldn't be only advisory or consultative. Showing our working gives everyone something to be proud of, and creates legacy and impact.
People’s lives change, often faster than we might expect. Our work must allow everyone to curate their own involvement to suit their circumstances – both now and as they change. We never want anyone to feel indebted but free to take ownership and set the terms of their involvement, whether that's reflecting their time, interests, experiences, skills or anything else.
There’s no single model, framework or plan which describes what ‘meaningful’ participation looks and feels like. Instead, we take lessons from everywhere and embrace new and innovative ways of doing things. We promise to engage in open and honest reflection with everyone involved, learn from our mistakes when they happen, and adapt quickly to feedback on what's working well and what isn't.
The drive to recognise and respect lived experience is right, but it can also be exhausting. Working to change the very systems which have caused harm isn't always easy or straightforward. We recognise the emotional impact of this work for everyone involved and offer whatever support you might need to take part comfortably and safely. We will help you to do this with confidence by providing opportunities for skill development, so you can take what you've learned into your work with us and beyond.
Experiences of care are diverse and unique. We always need to consider who is and who isn’t in the room – which voices are more easily heard, and which voices are overlooked, ignored or even silenced. We take positive action approaches and reach out wherever possible to bring in those who might be missing. We never claim to be representative or speak for any individual or community, but use the power we do have to step forward when we're able to speak alongside young people with honesty and integrity, and step back when we can't.
If you’ve got lived experience of care (or you're supporting others who do) and you're interested in meeting others and getting involved with our work to improve the care system, we'd love to hear from you. Please complete the form below - we'll be in touch after this to start a conversation about what you're interested in and how we and others might be able to help.
The advisory group
From 2017-2020, Become was supported by a wonderful advisory group who made an enormous contribution and enhanced how we work alongside other care-experienced young people.
The group has now disbanded but their legacy and input remains, and the values they created remain at the heart of our work with young people:
We are more than just a group with similar experiences - we are a support system who care for one another. We push each other, understand each other, and help each other to achieve. That’s what makes us a community.
We are a vibrant group. We are made up of different personalities from loud to quiet and everything in between. We respect and listen to each other’s experiences. We celebrate and encourage our differences, and everyone is welcome in this group.
We all have a common goal and shared experience which drives us and gives us the motivation to create better experiences in care for others. We have the courage to challenge decision makers in the care system.
We empathise with each other and the wider care-experienced community. Our collective lived experience gives us the expertise to understand what it can be like for others in care, and we use this as a guide in our work to create change.