Organised by North Tyneside Council, young people in care from across the region were given a platform to tell their stories at a conference last Friday.
The North East Regional Children in Care Council conference was held at the Stockton Arts Centre (ARC) and heavily involved children with experience of being in care in different parts of the region.
These children – some in care, others recent care leavers – spoke about the ups and downs of life in care; from the impact of adoption and sibling separation on young children through to care leavers placement experiences, budgeting and how to live.
All the young people are part of a children in care council, which are established in each local authority area in the UK and help to ensure that those in care can shape decisions made about them.
Following a request from student social worker, Liam Smith, BASW members and professional officers attended the conference to hear the views and experiences of young people in care.
BASW member Trish Murphy was inspired by the workshops she attended and described the event as one “every practitioner needs to attend at least once in their career”.
“It was a rollercoaster ride of emotions, their words were raw and to the point, while the workshops consistently focused upon their perspective – the voice of the child quite rightly dominated the day,” said Murphy.
Adding: “The bravery and courage demonstrated by these individuals is to be applauded and admired, it was an inspiration to attend and to listen to their stories. Our focus, like theirs, needs to be on improvements that can be made via small steady steps to build a brighter future for our young people.”
Keri O'Riordan, BASW Professional Officer, also attended and was moved by some of the harrowing stories she heard.
“The fact that they have the resilience to stand up and talk about their past and their issues is a testament to the work the council have done. You can see that they were empowered by getting up on stage and speaking.”