‘I want to give something back’: Care leavers appear at festival for Children’s Society

The Children’s Society have been praised by the young people they have helped to build confidence after difficult starts to life, at a Manchester event.

The charity held the Care Leaver’s Festival to give people the chance to explain how the charity has supported their transition from care to independence.

MM spoke to Luke Sharp, a trustee for the society, who has benefitted from the Care to be Different Programme.

19-year-old Luke is currently completing a level three in Business Admin through Rochdale Council.

He was adopted aged three, but went into foster care five years ago following a break down with his adoptive parents.

At this point, he began receiving support from an advocate employed by The Children’s Society which he believes gave him the voice he never had.

“The advocate service helped raise the issues that I had – they raised the issues that I didn’t have the confidence to raise myself,” he said.

“The issues they raise are so prevalent in children’s lives and they are intent on encouraging participation in young people.

“Before the society’s intervention, I didn’t have the confidence to express my needs, now I do.”

Luke left foster care aged 18 and still receives support through Care to be Different and a personal advisor from Rochdale Council.

A trustee for the charity, he is also a member on the Children’s Commission on Poverty, which is a group of 16 10-19 year-olds who came together to investigate how poverty affects children in schools.

This project enabled children in the UK to speak out about poverty as a result of an 18-month enquiry.

Luke is now working towards a level one qualification in retail skills through his work in the Children Society’s charity shop, in Oldham and hopes to go back to college and fulfil his ambitions of becoming a project worker.

He believes his experience makes him the ideal person to have a role in these projects, whilst offering something back to the society that opened so many doors for him.

“Because I have been there, experienced what it’s like to go from the beginning to where I am now with the help of the society, I am the best kind of person to help them out with projects,” Luke said.

“I have learned so much and now I want to help the people who have helped me – I want to give something back.

“This is what the retail is about, although I am getting a level one out of it, it is more about helping them out as a thank you for them helping me.”

Luke explained what it means to be involved with the North West Leavers Festival and how important it is that professionals understand the needs of young people.

The festival, held at The People’s History Museum, was attended by representatives from social care and the NHS, charities and council members.

“It is crucial that they realise the importance of giving young people a say in what happens to them,” he said.

“The decisions that these organisations make directly affects us, so we should have a say in how these decisions are made.

“I know that giving young people a voice makes a difference – I have seen it make a difference first hand.”

Our voices are now being heard which is great and is what I and the charity is striving for.”

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