I was recently part of a Scottish delegation of care experienced adults that travelled to Jersey to work alongside our counterparts. This first started when Jersey Cares visited Scotland in 2018 to see how we are working to improve the lives of children and young people in care. The purpose of this visit to Jersey, was to build working relationships with our peers, to work together to produce a participation model for looked after children and young people on the island to ensure their voices are listened to, and to share how we work in the social care field in Scotland, including how corporate parenting works.
When asked to be part of the delegation I was really curious - I had heard multiple things about Jersey and how different its culture was to the mainland, so when I met Carly Glover, CEO of Jersey Cares at the start of the year and she told me about this project, I was instantly hooked. Not only would I be able to see the island and its culture but I would also, hopefully, be able to have a positive impact and work with our friends in a meaningful way.
As discussions developed around our purpose for the Jersey visit my expectations started to change. I was still very excited, but my initial idea of simply going along to help out some friends in a nice easy manner, had crystallised and become more realistic, in that I realised this was going to be a journey where working together with our peers would be a positive challenge.
By the time we formalised the plans, my expectations had fully formed and I was looking forward to working alongside our counterparts and the young people of Jersey in a much more intensive way, still friendly and adaptable, but far more co-produced than I had initially imagined. As such I hoped to leave Jersey with a co-produced plan of action for changing hearts and minds on the ground, and a clear path for encouraging local support towards care experienced people.
I now understand how cheesy this was, but I stand by it as a hope for the future.
I went from believing it would be an easy trip with not too many challenges, to believing it would be much more inclusive, working alongside, the jersey young people and local professionals and politicians.
We were expecting challenges and barriers along the way, and I do think there will be more along the way, as change seldom comes easy.
However, I think that the level of challenge I had expected did not occur during our visit - I had been told that outsiders had been coming into Jersey for decades with a quick-fix solution to their problems, so I expected a bit of anger – but instead there seemed to be quite a decent level of support, ranging from the young people all the way through to local ministers, all speaking with eloquence and passion. Call me naïve, but I really was expecting full on protests, and instead we were met by people that were willing to listen and share, and ready to strive for change, and I believe even at a micro level that change has been made on the ground in Jersey. By working with local councillors and young people to facilitate the relationships, and by being there with everyone, it generated some curiosity, which allowed for discussions about care in Jersey.
I started out the trip, truthfully, with a mixture of optimism and scepticism, and I was perhaps leaning more towards the sceptical side.
However, I left Jersey having made several new friends and allies, feeling refreshed and invigorated for a future working together. I am taking from this project a renewed sense of self and pride - pride in the work we achieved as a collective, and the support we as a delegation managed to share with our friends in Jersey. I truly do believe that the seeds for the change I mentioned have been planted. I hope that through our combined efforts, the young care experienced people in Jersey feel inspired and hopeful.
Throughout the trip we sat alongside local funders and people of power, from ministers to the head of the prison services. The discussions were in depth and knowledgeable and not once did it feel like we were there to pay lip service, it was a really productive time very much worth having.
I know from being there that at least one of those professionals has changed their way of thinking after hearing about the lived experience of being in care, and that in my eyes made the entire trip worth it.
I would like to take a second to say that without the passions and driving power of the young people and supporters in Jersey, none of this would have happened, and this sense of pride and change would not have come about.
Each of those individuals should be proud of what they have achieved! Bravo.
By no means is this visit to Jersey going to be the last. There is a strong will to continue our collaborative efforts and look at ways to empower everyone that was involved – together we are strong and a force to be reckoned with, and we are looking for ways to reinforce our collective endeavour.
Future plans to work together are already in discussion and I very much look forward to seeing that passion and hope come to fruition and produce something epic for the care experienced people of Jersey.
A group of care experienced young people recently travelled to Jersey as part of the Scotland-Jersey Participation Project, funded by a grant from the Life Changes Trust and organised with CELCIS, Jersey Cares and Who Cares? Scotland.
The purpose of the project was for care experienced adults to build working relationships with their Jersey peers, to co-produce and promote a participation model for looked after children and young people in Jersey.
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