Blog from Matt Langsford, New Belongings Panelist

Last week I travelled to Sheffield for the local launch of the New Belongings Project.  When I arrived with my colleagues, the energy and excitement about the possibilities of this project where clear, and overwhelming. Several members of the local authority's senior management team and other agencies where present, along with some Sheffield care leavers.

What has impressed me is the openness and willingness in Sheffield to try new things to make life better for care leavers and those leaving care. I believe nothing is being brushed under the carpet.

We discussed a snapshot overview of the service at present, and what the team and I can do to support and enable the city to improve and develop their services for care leavers. We then spent some considerable time talking to the local care leavers present about how they see things and what they would like done to improve services and support.

Surprisingly, none of them made the usual comment 'I need more money' and
they gave practical examples of how they could be better supported. Over the next 12 months my colleagues and I will be working closely with Sheffield to provide advice, guidance and best practice examples to make this happen.

My only concern with the project overall and not just specific to my region, Sheffield, is how the wider community and society will react when they are asked to take a more active role in the lives of care leavers.  However, with the skills, knowledge and experience of the whole New Belongings project team I believe we can make the project a success in Sheffield and the other pilot regions, to create the Gold Standard for leaving care services across the whole country.

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