Posted: 30 June 2016

Together we did it

Last June we launched our first local campaign ‘Handle With Care’ in Greater Manchester. 

Thousands of people supported the campaign, which called on local authorities to make sure that young people in care get the best possible support when placed out of their local area.

Today’s the day

A year on, and we’re thrilled to announce that the campaign has been successful!

Today, Councillor Morris signed our charter on behalf of the ten councils who make up the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). As a result, hundreds of children in care who are moved outside their local communities are now set to benefit from improved support from Greater Manchester councils, including commitments to:  

  • Making sure that young people are supported to keep in contact family and friends when they move
  • Ensuring that young people  understand the reasons for the move and have as much notice as possible
  • Avoiding moves at times which could disrupt a young person’s education, unless totally necessary
  • Creating a ‘Welcome Pack’ for young people including details about their new area including information on public transport and local leisure facilities
  • Making sure that young people have the luggage they need to move, and transport arranged.

What was the problem?

We knew from young people, and the Children’s Society staff who work with them, that being moved out of area – even if for good reasons - presented a number of difficulties for young people educationally, socially and personally.

We heard how young people could be moved with little notice, giving them no time to prepare, say good bye to family or friends, or find out anything about the new area they would be calling home.

They explained the difficulties of staying in in touch with friends and family which made the experience of moving even harder.

Some young people had to leave their house with no luggage, piling their belongings into rubbish bags and cardboard boxes.

They also talked about the challenges of settling into new schools – particularly near deadlines or during exam periods. Some young people had much longer journeys to and from school.

A move out of borough also impacted on the support they received. For some it reduced the frequency of face-to-face time with social workers and independent visitors, or restricted access to specialist support they benefitted from. For others it could mean having to register with new doctors or other health professionals.

It also meant they couldn’t access groups like Children in Care Councils, excluding young people from valuable spaces to have their voices heard.

All in all it was clear that something needed to be done.

Together with young people across Greater Manchester, we developed recommendations for the changes we wanted to see.

‘It’s great that young people were able to make their voice heard as part of the campaign and that the councils have listened,’ Neelam Mahmood, now 22, from Manchester.

We can’t thank you enough

We launched our campaign by getting members of the public to join in our game of ‘Out of Area Twister’ in high streets across Greater Manchester.  The game highlighted how the number of moves, the distances travelled from their home, and the difficulties they have in accessing help and support, made these young people increasingly vulnerable.

Our brilliant volunteers, including some care leavers, spent many hours reaching out to passers-by and engaging them in conversations about the campaign.

Members of the public playing our twister game

Over the course of the next two months, more than two thousand people signed up to support the campaign.

Young people who’d been involved in the campaign also helped to write blogs and emails, reaching out to our online campaigners.

If you signed the petition, we can’t thank you enough.

What happens next?

We will continue working with the councils of Greater Manchester to start implementing the recommendations, and making sure this message reaches further afield.

In the meantime, we will continue our work supporting children in the care system and care leavers. You can find out more about the work we do in Greater Manchester.  

Without donations we wouldn’t be able to continue the work we do, supporting and advocating for children who need our help the most. If you are able, please consider donating a few pounds to support the work we do with children in care and care leavers.

Thank you again for your support in making important changes happen. 

By Sarah Wayman - Campaigns team
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