CLNM Peer Evaluation
Posted 14th January 2022
In 2012 whilst supporting young people in a local authority to leave care, Sue Hammersley, Director was told… ’we know you try your best... but its shite’. This was not disputed and rather than trying to polish what wasn’t working, an approach was developed with young people that recognised their inherent resourcefulness to be the architects of a system that works for them and put them centre stage. The voice of young people has driven the House Project approach. They have been supported by the structure of the Care Leavers National Movement (CLNM) which has also enabled them to develop an ‘expert user’ consultancy and sit as expert advisers on our Board of Trustees.
Whilst we our incredibly proud of the development of CLNM we were also very conscious of the need to ensure that all young people have a voice and identified that a peer evaluation was the best way of gathering the views of all.
With young people being trained as peer evaluators, codesigning the evaluation, undertaking the fieldwork, writing the report and hosting a conference to deliver their findings they have had a whole range of experiences and developed skills and knowledge that has helped them grow in confidence. With an invitation to present their Evaluation Report to Will Quince, Minister of Children's and Families in February they will have the opportunity to use their voice to influence policy makers.
The findings from the Evaluation are incredibly positive with young people valuing the support of their House Projects which they believe are managed well. They have had the opportunity to develop ownership and take responsibility and with the development of a community (mates) and sense of belonging they are positive about their futures and report improved emotional and mental health.
The evaluation led to a number of recommendations and whilst some require a response from Local House Projects there are significant responsibilities for NHP. These focus on; developing a peer mentoring process, a mental health offer local to young people and support to develop stronger careers guidance, work experience and apprenticeship opportunities. The recommendations also led us to review our practice framework and whilst it is important for young people to live independently of the care system, the focus going forward will be on developing interdependence with a greater focus on developing relationships with, and in, the community.
It was Bryant McGill who said "Our children can be our greatest teachers if we are humble enough to receive their lessons" and whilst we will use their findings to inform what we do, we are delighted that the voice of young people not only informed the origins of our approach, but now has the opportunity to be heard in Westminster and influence the way that all young people leave care.