A group of young people in South Ayrshire are on a mission to influence decisions that affect their everyday lives by joining their local ‘Champions Board’.
The South Ayrshire Champions Board, called ‘Champions for Change’, was set up at the end of 2017 after securing £224,000 from Scottish charity the Life Changes Trust.
Champions Boards provide platforms for young people to talk directly to Council staff, elected members and service providers to discuss the challenges that being in care can bring, and how these challenges can be faced and overcome with the right support.
Marking a major milestone, 18 young people aged between 8 and 25 now sit on the new ‘Champions for Change’ Board, and last week they met for the first time with senior figures at South Ayrshire Council to secure a host of new pledges for enhanced services.
At the meeting, members agreed that:
- looked after and accommodated children will have free access to South Ayrshire sport and leisure facilities through the Access for Leisure scheme
- care experienced young people will not have to apply for housing through the homeless system
- all staff will receive induction training on their role as a corporate parent
- the Council will adopt a ‘Family Firm’ Approach to ensure every care experienced young person in South Ayrshire is given support to access a wide range of vocational learning opportunities, including apprenticeships
Councillor Julie Dettbarn, Chair of the South Ayrshire Integration Joint Board, said the platform was already driving change. Following last week’s inaugural meeting of the Champions Board with South Ayrshire Council, she said: “In just a few short months, the South Ayrshire Champions Board has already influenced the way we work, engaged with people from all walks of life, and importantly got that message to those with experience of living in care. It’s easy to forget that not everyone has equal access to opportunities, but by closing the gap and empowering young people who have been in care we’re taking steps to give young people an active voice. Today’s event was a fun way to officially mark the start of our work, and while there’s still much to do, I’m confident that the enthusiasm of all those involved will deliver positive change in the years ahead.”