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West Lothian Champions Board

West Lothian Champions Board was awarded funding of £209,043 for the period of April 2018 to March 2021.

This funding enabled West Lothian Council to establish a Champions Board for young people with care experience, to ensure that they have a platform to engage with decision makers, elected members and services providers, and that the decisions affecting their lives are informed by their lived experiences.

The aims for East Lothian Champs Board are to give a voice to young people in care, help young people access the support systems available, ensure that young people are treated with respect and get positive help from professionals, and to change young people’s lives in care. 

In its early stages, the Champs compiled a list of seven areas where they felt there was a need for better support or improved policies for young people with care experience. These included housing, education, finances, aftercare, health and family/ keeping loved ones together.  Through their development worker, the group was linked to the relevant head of service for each of these areas. The heads of service are known as the Ambassadors. Champs and Ambassadors meet regularly.

The Champs have informed and influenced a number of changes including:

  • The design and layout of the newly refurbished Children’s Hearing Centre in Tranent, and informing East Lothian Children’s Panel members how Children’s Hearings could be made more inclusive.
  • Recruitment campaign for foster carers for larger siblings groups so that loved ones can remain together.
  • They participated in the recruitment and selection of a new service manager for Children’s Services Long Term Care and Support.
  • The Champions have informed work on the Continuing Care agenda and supported plans for a new, supported-living initiative called ‘Step Forward’.

In addition, the Champions have supported the increased use of the online survey tool, Viewpoint.

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.