Young people's research at Barnardo's

24 February 2017

Fiona Bennett is Assistant Director for Barnardo’s Scotland and here she talks about her involvement with the Scottish Care Leavers Covenant and her work on the Family Firm research.

At Barnardo’s I’ve lead role working with, and on behalf of care leavers, but sometimes I’m not quite sure what this actually means or whether I’m having any real impact for young people!
However, I’ve recently been attending the Scottish Care Leavers Covenant Alliance Group meetings and we've been focused on the Agenda for Change (contained in the Covenant). The Agenda for Change section is a framework of key actions and changes, and the Alliance believe if these are implemented fully and consistently, they will transform culture and practice across all corporate parents.

This work has purpose and is optimistic about making real and sustained change for care leavers in Scotland.

Our Family Firm

I've been really busy at Barnardo’s too - we recently launched our Family Firm Action Research film and report.
We wanted to involve young people in the Barnardo’s approach to a 'Family Firm' from the start - documenting the thoughts of young people around the charity becoming a Family Firm – a concept that aims to encourage public bodies and third sector organisations to offer care leavers employment and positive destination opportunities. The report highlights the young people's experience of the opportunities, barriers and support needed to gain employment. All of the young people featured in the film have experience of the care system.

Eight young people (aged 13 - 21) became Action Researchers for the project, being trained in research purpose and methods and they went on to conduct interviews with 38 care experienced young people from across Scotland over a period of nine months.
The main findings of the report were:

  • The importance of having a stable home life and accommodation
  • Very few young people talked about needing financial support, however, when they did it was to support them with childcare, travel and clothing allowances
  • Young people need a supportive Manager, someone who understands the issues that care-experienced young people have
  • It is important to have a good mentor - this isn’t the same person as their Manager
  • Good training is needed to improve confidence
  • Paperwork should be more straight forward - contracts and application forms were seen as complicated and it was felt care experienced young people were disadvantaged as a result

Bringing the research alive

The findings were made into a short report, but the young people wanted to go much further and conveyed the ideas through film.
Launched in December, amongst a great deal of enthusiasm and excitement, the young people involved were not only able to show the film, but to describe first-hand what taking part was like. Their energy and commitment was infectious and we’re now totally committed to building on the progress so far and to making real and meaningful changes. Changes not only what we do to progress Family Firm ideas, but also in how we do it, with children and young people alongside us every step of the way.

The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author/s and may not represent the views or opinions of CELCIS or our funders. 

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