South Ayrshire Champions Board

Award: £224,000
Timescale: 2017 - 2020

Project aims

The South Ayrshire Champions Board will develop a new way of working with care experienced young people in the area, by engaging young people in a meaningful dialogue and building successful relationships. Their main aim is to give these young people an opportunity to be heard and listened to by care staff and policy makers.

Background

Champions Boards provide a platform for young people to talk directly to local authority staff, elected members and service providers to articulate the challenges that being in care can bring and how these challenges can be faced and overcome with the right support.  South Ayrshire will establish a brand new Champions Board with Life Changes Trust funding.

In 2015, the Life Changes Trust invested an initial £2 million in 10 influential Champions Boards across Scotland and have now pledged a further £2.5 million to double this number  over the next year. 

For more information on the Trust’s funding of Champions Boards, please see the Champions Boards overview page.

 

More Information

The £224,000 funding is an opportunity for care experienced young people to have a real influence on the policy decisions affecting their lives. Their lived experiences will directly inform the decisions made on their behalf, which is a refreshing and much needed change to the care system.  This champion’s board will involve young people by really putting them at the heart of the decision making process and supporting them towards positive educational outcomes.

March 2018 marked a major milestone, with 18 young people aged between 8 and 25 sitting on the new ‘Champions for Change’ Board, and in the last week of March, 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 March'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.”

Behind the scenes members had already started to build momentum, with achievements including:

  • engaging directly with forty care experienced young people through activities including housing conversations, meals, group work, filming and photo shoots
  • providing awareness raising sessions to 469 corporate parents across South Ayrshire from elected members to Head Teachers, Police Scotland and community representatives
  • identifying and supporting a young care leaver to sit on South Ayrshire foster care panel
  • appointing its first Modern Apprentice to help drive forward the work and maintain the momentum

Heather Coady, Director of the Trust’s Care Experienced Young People Programme said, “It is such a privilege to witness and support this fantastic network of Champions Boards in Scotland to grow. Working alongside young people and learning from their lived experience can really affect positive change for this care experienced young people. Champions Boards show care experienced young people that they are valued, supported, and listened to as the experts when it comes to their own lives. Our goal is to see policy and practice in the care system changing to reflect that.”  

Read our Champions Board Year One Impact and Learning Report - all the key insights and learning from our first year of funding Champions Boards in Scotland.

Outcomes we'd like to see

  •  care experienced young people benefit from involvement in champions boards
  • organisations strengthen their commitment, knowledge, skills and capacity
  • policy and practice become more responsive to care experienced young people
  • public awareness and attitudes become increasing positive towards care experienced young people
  • care experienced young people benefit from service improvements

Additional Information

Find out more on the South Ayrshire 'CHampions for change' Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/southayrshirechamps/