You said, We Did – December 2021

Here’s our December update about the work we’ve been doing in response to your feedback!

Tell us what you think of these changes, and what you would like to see happen next, by:
📨 participation@devon.gov.uk
🗣️ Speak to your PA, IRO or participation worker
📱 Or DM us on Instagram


 

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Having your voice heard and receiving the information you need 

You said that we need to be clear on our promises and commitments to you and to show we will do what we say. 
You have suggested a list of commitments from the people who work with you and your carers. These have now been approved and included in ‘The Promise‘ which has been sent out to all of you aged 6-15. You can challenge your social workers or contact the Participation team or your IRO if you think the Promise is not being followed.

You said that you would like to meet with relevant Heads of Service four times per year to discuss particular themes in an informal way with lunch and activities. 
This is now written into the new Corporate Parenting Strategy as the main way that lead decision makers will hear your voice. Dates will be set for 2022.

You have said that you don’t always know how to contact your social worker. 
Mind of My Own is an app/online tool which enables you to communicate directly and confidentially with your social worker or other workers. This app is being rolled out across Devon, starting this month in North Devon. Ask your worker to show you how it works!

You have said that language is sometimes a barrier to communicating with your worker when English is not your first language.
Mind of My Own includes the capacity to communicate with your worker in over 100 languages which will then be translated for your worker to read. Mind of My Own is being rolled out across Devon, starting this month in North Devon. Ask your worker to show you how it works!

You have said that you don’t always have the information you need or it is not given to you in a format you can understand. 

  • In October, we sent out Care Guides to all of you age 6-15 which explain all aspects of being in care. If you are new to care, ask your social worker for a copy.
  • We have sent out the new Local Offer (for young people age 16-25) to all of you aged 15 years and six months or older. If you have not received one, ask your social worker or PA. You can also view the Local Offer on our website.
  • An easy-read version of the Local Offer is available on the Learning Disability Devon website.

 

Supporting Independence 

You said that you should have your own mobile phone from the age of 11 so that you can be more independent and feel socially included in secondary school
This has been included in the Promise so that all of you can be supported to own and use a mobile phone safely from the age of 11.

You have said that you would like to be taught about finances, credit, debt, insurance and how to be self-sufficient.  
Step Forward have explored and developed proposals, gained feedback and ran advice for life sessions with citizens advice which included information about how to manage your finances, bills, debts, mortgages and much more, this is planned to become a permanent part of the Step Forward offer.

You have asked for opportunities to gain work experience in social care settings 
The Participation team have recently employed two Care Leaver Ambassadors on a 12 month part-time contract.  After 12 months, two more Care Leavers will be able to access this offer.

 

Care-experienced parents 

You said that care-experienced people who become parents need better support. 

  • Mental health support is now available for all mothers when pregnant via the hospital based mental health team.
  • The Early Help Vulnerable Pregnancy Pathway is now Devon wide and offers early support for any expectant parents who may be considered vulnerable; this includes care experienced young people.

You said that if your own baby or child is taken into care, there should be much more support after this has happened. 
Funding has been secured for a ‘Pause’ project to support parents who have had a baby taken into care and to help increase confidence and skills for future family life, with the aim to launch in 2022.

 

Sexual health and Relationship education

You said that sometimes you miss out on good sexual health and relationship education (eg if you have missed a lot of school or cannot talk to your carers about it) 

  • The Participation team are now c-card trained and able to give out free condoms and sexual health advice.
  • The Participation team have been delivering healthy relationship education in ‘Stand up Speak up’ groups and will continue to do so.
  • The Virtual School will ensure that young people in care do not miss out on the Relationship and Sex Education curriculum even if they are not in school.
  • Devon foster carer and PA training now includes relationships and sexual health education.
  • Children centres now offer ‘Here’s looking at you bump’ training to Foster carers.
  • As part of the annual health assessment, children in care nurses will discuss age appropriate sexual health and relationships.

 

Wellbeing and Mental Health 

You said that you need more activities and opportunities to make friends, especially when you are leaving care. 

  • We delivered a week of fun activities during National Care Leavers’ week and will be offering the opportunity to attend Christmas lunches in December with other care-experienced young people.
  • The Participation team are employing a worker for one year to develop our offer to care leavers with our local community partners.
  • We sent out bake boxes during Care Leavers’ Week to those of you who live out of county so that you felt included
  • The Participation team have partnered with Kooth to run a six-week creative wellbeing group in Exeter during November and December.

You have said that mental health services are not always right for you, especially when you reach 18+.  

  • We are supporting you to share your views with decision-makers as they re-design the mental health offer.
  • Funding has been agreed for an 18-25 year service that will support emotional wellbeing and mental health (more details to follow!)

 

Identity 

You have said that your workers need to demonstrate a better understanding of gender identity:

  • LGBTQ training is now being rolled out across teams, starting in MASH.
  • Eclipse (the recording system) now has ‘gender identity’ on it and workers are being asked to make sure this is complete. Do ask your worker to make sure your records show your preferred name and identity.

You can check out our previous updates here.