`Knowsley Council has been awarded the Bronze Investing in Children Membership Award.
The Investing in Children Membership Award is unique as it is the only award in the country based on what children and young people say and how they are involved in dialogue resulting in change.
The award recognises how the Council is supporting children and young people to have a voice and for their views to be acted upon. This includes working with children and their families through direct contact as well as through well-established groups including the Making A Difference Everywhere (MADE) Junior and Senior groups and the Care Experienced People Forum.
In order to award the Bronze award, assessors met with young people, social care teams and observed practice.
The MADE teams shared information about their monthly meetings and their involvement in planning the agenda. Feedback from participants who attended the MADE meetings included:-
“We love coming.”
“I like to see my mates and make new mates.”
“It’s a fun meeting, never a boring one.”
“I love Senior MADE meetings – I’ve had lots of opportunities. Recently I was on a call with a MP and talking about Corporate parents – it was boss and lots of others across the country were involved. This MP really listened. I said when you’re in care feels like you past from pillar to post. Things gets missed -so having the opportunity to tell him was really good as he has power – you need these people to make the changes”
“Recently I was asked if I wanted to be part of a Health Event – this was with senior people – think it was called an Improvement Day in the Park – Knowsley schools were there. I stood up and did a Presentation. We all contributed to it and it had voice notes too – all about what we have done in MADE and what we have changed. So, getting involved in MADE means we get our voices heard and things are changing.”
Members of the Junior MADE group also keep a scrap book of their meetings, reminding them of what was discussed in the meeting and ideas that they want to progress, including activities they would like to get involved in or places they would like to visit.
The MADE teams have recently helped to design an annual service survey, identifying key themes as well as designing the survey. One participant said “We did the survey so we have a say on what we want to improve” with another one saying “I like to help make a difference.”
Children and young people also had the opportunity to take part in projects over the summer months including arts, drama, writing and rap making at Liverpool Performing Arts Institute with Collective Encounters.
One participant said “The project was all about expressing ourselves through art. We also did team building and it helped us build friendships with each other and other groups. At the end, we performed in front of social workers, carers and families.”
Assessors also met with the Care Experienced People Forum, which is helping to build young people’s confidence, life skills, improving their mental well-being, social anxiety and support around bursaries.
Through the Forum, members have been involved in interviews for potential foster carers with one saying “It’s so good we are involved in these – we know what other kids like us need.” Others have been involved in interviews for student social workers, saying “I feel I am listened to and that’s why I like to do these.” Care Experienced People are also working with local universities regarding social worker training and talking about their experiences to students.
Assessors also reviewed the Children’s Charter, which was originally made in 2021 by over 150 children and young people, but each year it is reviewed by MADE and updated where necessary. The Charter is aimed at children and young people’s corporate parents and their key message is “As children and young people we have the right to be protected and be safe from harm from others. When we have difficulties or problems we expect you to.”
Children and young people are helping to plan for the Celebration of Achievement event in February 2024 which recognises the achievements of children and young people.
The award also recognised the relaunched Local Offer for care experienced people which aims to support young people as move into adult life and independence. It includes a range of help, advice and support around accommodation, employment, education and training, financial support as well as access to services that support a young person’s health and wellbeing. You can find more about the Local Offer here.
Councillor Margaret Harvey, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said “I’m incredibly proud to achieve the Bronze Investing in Children Membership Award. As Corporate Parents, our key aim is to ensure children and young people get access to the same life chances as others and helping them to develop, grow and achieve and succeed.
“A key priority for us is to ensure that our children and young people have opportunities to share their views, are listened to and that support and services is tailored around their needs and wishes.
“I’m delighted with the feedback received through our assessment which highlights the range of work we are doing here in Knowsley to support our children and young people to thrive.”