Refugee Celebration Week
Marie Dionisi informed the group that the celebration took part on the 20th June and it involved over 118 asylum seekers, young people, staff members and foster carers. There was a celebratory meal and awards ceremony and they learnt about a film being done on the asylum experience.
Deborah McGarvey said that on the 22nd June there was a film event for professionals; three films for WCC and its young people seeking asylum called “My experience of arriving in the UK”, “My experience of the support I have received” and “My experiences settling into life in the UK”. These were all shown to the group of professionals at the event, and they were put onto YouTube. They are available for staff training, and they were shared with the Home Office who said they would use them as part of their training resources. Sharon Shaw noted that these films were done with money from the West Midlands Migration Bid and these films are available for all West Midlands authorities and any others who want to use them.
The Chair said that he would like all members to watch these videos.
Ian Donnachie informed the group that on the 15th July there was a staff conference and Voice Influence Change (VIC) had a slot; some who spoke from the team were care experienced members of staff. Liss Philipps and Alisha Howe spoke about young people in care, leaving care and some of the activities that they were doing. They spoke about how they were engaging and responding/listening to young people's voices. Umar Tareeb did crowd interaction around about being an asylum seeker, talking about refugees and things they were doing in that area. Ian Donnachie presented a video where he interviewed nine young people who were care experienced in Warwickshire and they gave some of their opinions like what could be improved in work practice and things that were done well. He spoke on what they were doing in VIC to help support young people. Ian Donnachie spoke on his personal experiences too. After showing a video they had two representatives from the Youth Council give a speech. Ian Donnachie praised everyone who took part in the event.
In response to the Chair, Ian Donnachie said that improvements were being made around engaging with the Children in Care Council. Sharon Shaw added that WCC’s local offer paid for winter bills which was essential in this current climate with uncertainty around electricity and gas.
The video around participation shown at the conference was presented to the group
Marie Dionisi informed the group that on the 31st May there was a day trip to Bournemouth with 12 families, children and foster carers. The children were aged between 5-14; families and staff made sandcastles together and some young people went in the sea and played cricket on the beach. They had fish & chips and ice cream after.
Refugee Football Team
Umar Teerab informed the group that the football team met every Sunday, and it went well. Football was a universal sport so this helped everyone engage with each other even if they spoke little English. Covid-19 halted this, but this has since continued. They played against Warwickshire Police, and it went well so they are organising another match with them. They have a three-match set against Milton Keynes; Warwickshire won the first one and the second match will take place on the 16th October. Warwickshire came 2nd in a football tournament against other authorities; next year’s tournament will take place in Northampton. Other authorities started doing football teams after Warwickshire started it and they have between 38-43 young people attending their meetups.
Sharon Shaw added that pre-Covid-19 they had 5-aside teams playing other authorities and to continue this they were looking at supported accommodation for teams to use to make it easier for people to travel to Warwickshire and join local teams.
Housing Related Support
Alisha Howe informed the group that she was contacted by commissioning about coming up with mentimeter surveys for floating support/housing related support. This was for certain supported accommodations for young people to fill out. They attended one accommodation, spoke to parents and they potentially have a forth accommodation to attend. Alicia Howe was asked recently to contact more young people because more of them came forward about housing related support.
Care Leavers Forum
Liss Philipps informed the group that all the care leavers forum meetings were now face-to-face. They were looking to have them somewhere with a bigger kitchen then Myton to reduce costs with takeaways. They spoke about the options of life up to 25 and how this works in the process of leaving care and what support they receive during that time. They had young people come forward to say what would help them, what their transition out of support WCCs gives will be and their independence. In July 2022 they had mental health discussions which was popular as it is always a hot topic; showing support for mental health was important and they were told what support there was. Liss Philipps did her own research and formatted a leaflet that included all provided services. The forum was asked what could be done to improve services and these were taken back to the SLT to action. In September there was a welcome back social and Ian Donnachie did an activity which got them to look for clues to get sweets and the had fish & chips and games. They were now planning their Christmas events to boost attendance.
BBQ and Mental Health Training
Matiullah ‘Matty’ Hotak informed the group that the BBQ and mental health training took place on the 9th August. The BBQ was held for WCC’s young people seeking asylum who live in the select care accommodation in Birmingham. Around 440 people attended the BBQ and after, 22 people attended the mental health support session focusing on achieving good quality sleep. This was important because some asylum seekers suffered trauma and had difficult journeys to the UK, so this session was to help them overcome this.
Harry Potter Studios
Deborah McGarvey informed the group that they had two group trips to the Harry Potter Studios on the 31st August and 2nd September. The 31st trip was for younger children in care; they took 16 young people aged 10-15. On the 2nd September they took 12 care experienced young people aged 16-25. Both trips went well, and they tried to target children that might have siblings they do not live with, so there were a few sibling groups together. It was a good bonding experience between staff and children in care.
Sharon Shaw informed the group that within the safeguarding support and children in care team, there were three residential trips in the summer for the children. Staff went away with young people on three occasions to Jamie's Farm which is a therapeutic farm where children do farm work and work with animals etc. Other things done were zip wiring and wall climbing. The children who went were aged 12-17.
1.1 That the Panel note the work of the Children in Care Council (CiCC), Care Leavers Forum (CLF) and the Voice, Influence and Change Team (Participation).
1.2 That the Panel acknowledge the work that continues to take place with young people.