On Wednesday 25 October, young people involved in our Homes and Horizons project won the A National Voice Collaboration Award for their work. Homes and Horizons is our residential, fostering and education partnership with Somerset Council and the NHS. The young people involved were all members of Somerset’s two care experienced peer groups, one for children currently living in care and the other peer group for care leavers. Along with the Somerset project lead the young people travelled to London to pick up the award at the ceremony.
The peer group members in Somerset have been active collaborators with Homes and Horizons from the start and were fundamental in the decision to select Homes2Inspire for the partnership. They took part by devising questions for prospective partners; scoring and interviewing applications; visiting children’s homes across the UK to interview staff and residents; representing young people on the steering group for the project; presenting at the Shaw Trust Board’s AGM; choosing furniture and helping with community engagement when the homes open; they even chose the name of the project.
This has resulted in the service design being based on lived experience of care experienced young people; staff involved having a greater understanding of that lived experience; and earlier this year attended when the partnership won the prestigious MJ Award for Innovation in Partnership.
Members of the group have also reaped benefits from their involvement. They have formed closer bonds with one another, especially from all the travelling around the UK; developed better presentation and negotiation skills and grown their sense of self-worth, agency and confidence; and they’ve moved the dial between how services are commissioned and procured to ensure their voices and experiences are heard.
One young person who attended the award event commented: “Honestly, I had the most amazing day, it was really eye opening to not only be able to share our voices, opinions and experiences but also to hear those of others.”
Speaking about the win, Chris Luck, said: “At the heart of everything we do at Shaw Trust is the voice of the person we support. Too often services and systems are designed to deliver what those creating the services believe is required. But what most people need is to be heard and understood, they are the experts. Only by listening to them and understanding their thoughts, needs, wants, aspirations can we design and deliver services that properly support and empower people to progress.”