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Having a say and being heard

Segelman Trust’s Katy Golding explains what the trust learnt when it began to focus on improving the lives of care leavers.

Segelman Trust is an independent grant-making charity which aims to help improve the health, happiness and life chances of people facing disadvantage and inequality. The trust does this through supporting a number of charitable organisations, including Blue Cabin, that deliver services where they are needed, call out injustice and demonstrate how systems can work better for people.

Three years ago, Segelman decided to focus on how we could help improve outcomes for young people leaving care. Our aim was to ensure that care leavers were given the support, encouragement and equality of opportunities to thrive – and not to be defined by things that had happened to them or to be limited by their care experience.

We tried not to make any assumptions about what we should do but to find out what care-experienced young people felt made a difference to them. What made life really good, what held people back, what could make 16+ support better? We partnered with a handful of brilliant and creative organisations that were engaging care-experienced people as experts to answer these questions. We were fortunate that one of the first projects we were able to support was the Care Experience Conference in Liverpool, which was a fantastic opportunity to hear from people of all ages and backgrounds about their experience of care and ideas for a better system.

A central theme to emerge from our initial listening phase was the importance for young people of building meaningful relationships with those who are important to them. We learned how often the current system had managed to thwart this most basic human right.

We also heard about the acute need for additional support to live independently – though people challenged the concept of independence and so we think about this in terms of thriving in adulthood, strengthened by community.

Having a say and being heard was also a central pillar of securing an improved care experience for all.

We currently support several programmes in five regions of the UK that hold these values at their core: young people take a leading role in the design of programmes, they are empowered to make their voices heard and to develop communities of support for others with care experience.

All of the charities we fund are engaged in strengthening the support young people receive locally and adding their voices and insights to the national conversation.

By continuing to listen to those with experience of the care system and to back promising, creative ideas to improve the experience of care – this is how we hope to make our difference.

Thanks to Segelman Trust for their support of Blue Cabin.