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Blog from Susanna Cheal: ‘New Belongings’ advisor


‘You have many opportunities to get leaving care right; we only get one’; that is what one young person told Ofsted last year.

After many years of campaigning in the voluntary sector for changes in the law, policies and programmes for young people, I am very pleased to have joined the New Belongings project.  And very pleased to have joined a group of people who are incredibly committed to working in partnership with a group of local authorities to improve the experiences of care leavers.

New Belongings is aiming to get behind all the paperwork and see what’s needed to develop a sense of ‘wrap-around’ care for all care leavers; one that lasts them through the years after care officially stops but the need for support carries on.

The magic ingredient in the mix is a group of outstanding care leavers who will drive change through this project, and give unique insights into ways that really encourage positive results. I have been hugely impressed by their passion and commitment to make life better for those coming after them.

We all want to see if we can truly embed the principles of the Charter for Care Leavers, join up services properly to provide a tight safety net, and bring in for care leavers all the benefits of community involvement that are open to everyone else.

Progressively since 2000, the views of those with care experience have been central to the incremental changes to legislation and policy in this area.  Policy and legislation that is designed to give those who provide services all the tools they need to provide excellent care to the children and young people they are looking after.  That is children and young people, let’s not forget, who have been taken into care for the chance of a better life.

There is some success so far on the outcome figures for education, health and wellbeing. But homelessness, youth justice, housing and benefits still tell a different story for many care leavers and their life, long after they officially leave care.

Time after time we learn of a postcode lottery of experiences, lack of support and ignorance of entitlements that are in place to give it. This has to stop and there is a role for everyone in this. Please lend your support to help us help them.

Blog from Nicky Roche - Getting involved in ‘New Belongings’


I'm lucky enough to have just become a Trustee of the Foundation. I became involved in this area when I was the lead Home Office Director for Children and Families working with other Government Departments on shaping 'Every Child Matters', learning how risk factors could be counter-balanced by protective ones and how important 'attachment' is for everyone but particularly children growing up. Now, having the chance to work first hand with care leavers and their local authority 'parents' is a real privilege- from theory to the real thing!

I am now helping to plan the New Belongings project. Last year I worked with Local Authorities around the country on the London 2012 Games, which was an amazing coalition of the willing to do things to the highest possible standard, to be flexible, to think about the end result and not be bound by time honoured processes. I hope that same inspiration will be with us on this project.  

It has been a pleasure to meet so many care leavers who will be leading the work with Local Authorities. Hearing that some had over 50 placements whilst in care was quite a shock but so many also talked about the one or two people who had been there for them and the difference that had made. New Belongings is seeking to strengthen Local Authorities support by drawing on other statutory services more and on the wider community, including employers for example. We have some innovative working between clusters of Authorities in the same geographic area, after all few of us contain our lives area within government boundaries and we feel testing out the wider community networks will enhance what we are seeking to do.

Its early days for the project but the team is coming together nationally and at the local authority level. Watch this space for news of names and areas.

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