East Lothian Champions Board
East Lothian Champions Board was awarded initial funding of £224,838 for the period of April 2016 to March 2019. They were awarded a further £100,000 to run from April 2019 to March 2021.
East Lothian Champions Board was set up in 2015 and is supported by East Lothian Council and Who Cares? Scotland. It provides a platform for young people with care experience to talk directly to local authority staff, elected members and service providers to ensure that decisions which affect their lives are informed by their own experiences.
Through the board, young people with care experience can influence improvements in the services and support available to them. The East Lothian Champions Board wants to:
- give a voice to young people in care
- change the care system
- help young people with care experience to access all the support the support systems available
- be treated with respect and get positive help from professionals
- change young people's lives in care
East Lothian has weekly Champions Board meetings, and runs participation events and residential programmes. Highlights have included young people participating in the redesign of the Children’s Hearing Centre, producing a film covering educational priorities, and delivering awareness workshops for teachers and support staff from East Lothian high schools.
More about the Champions Boards initiative
Champions Boards support young people with experience of care to work alongside those who make decisions about the care system. In this way, they are involved in the decisions that affect their own lives. Based primarily within Local Authorities, they are a vehicle for young people, Corporate Parents, and other professionals to come together with a shared goal. The aim is to ensure that services are tailored and responsive to the needs of young people with care experience. Champions Boards provide a powerful space for young people, elected members and key decision makers to come together, focussing on what works and what needs attention in their local area. Champions Boards build the capacity of young people to influence change, empower them by showing confidence in their abilities and potential, and give them the platform to flourish and grow.
Young people themselves set the agenda, learn leadership skills and advocate on behalf of their peers. They bring a vital dynamic that has a direct impact on decision-making in their own areas, and become engaged and active citizens as a result. The Champions Board approach is characterised by genuine relationships being formed between young people, staff, and Corporate Parents. This shift in culture from consultation to participation, from ‘doing to’ to ‘doing with’ is key in a Champions Board approach.
Champions Boards continue to be a fundamental part of the Life Changes Trust’s approach to creating transformational and sustainable change. In 2016, the Life Changes Trust invested over £2 million of funding for the first wave of Champions Boards. In 2017, the second wave was launched, bringing the total investment to over £4.4 million. The Trust now invests in 21 Champions Boards across Scotland and a national Network to support them.