In this blog, I am going to be talking about what it is like to be part of a care leaver forum as a care experienced person in my local authority. As many of us a care leaver might not know, the government says that each local authority needs to have a care leaver forum, so to be able to have this in my local authority is great, but what is it like for me personally.
I can remember the first day that I joined my authorities care leaver forum, I was very anxious as many of us can believe, but the atmosphere was nice. I felt that the forum to begin with was going to be a sit down and do work kind of group, but God was I wrong…
When Being in the forum, I was able to be around people who had the same experience as me being a care leaver, none of us felt lost or even out of place because we all had something in common but also most importantly being in the forum, it allowed us to work on projects that meant something to us and what engaged us to want to do.
I remember very clearly that the first project that I worked on with my care leaver forum, was to create information cards to the local authority to send out to children in care with information about what key terms meant for example, what the word LAC (looked after child) meant, or the word PA (Personal Advisor) meant and so forth.
Being able to do this and have an opinion of what the layout and look of them should be like was great as for once it felt that everyone was able to have their opinions heard without any sort of issues or judgement whatsoever.
For me as a care experienced person. being able to have my voice heard without any judgement or complaint is amazing as care experienced people have a lot of experience that needs to be heard and to be in a group that always values what someone says and inputs makes everything worthwhile, even if what is said doesn’t get used or done, that does not matter, it is the fact that the group was able to listen and engage with each other without any sort of hostility.
looking back now, I have been part of the Care Leaver forum now for nearly six years, both in the local authority and now engaging from university. the best thing is that I am able to have a say and have my voice heard even though I am doing work over Teams.
The fact that I am at university and still able to have an input to the care leaver forum and help out as much as I can, still makes me feel really honoured and proud, as even though I am across the other side of the country, I am still able to make a difference in the best way that I can.
So, for all care leavers out there who are reading this blog, a message for you…… Try your best to join your local authorities care leaver forum, because you being a care leaver and care experienced puts you in a bigger and stronger place to help make a difference and help change things for the better, because right now, in my opinion, I believe that a lot of things need to change and the way forward is for us as care leavers is to share our experiences in the best way possible.
Take it from someone who is in a care leaver forum, being able to use your experience to help change the way things are is the best feeling ever….
By Anonymous Care Experienced Blogger.