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Young people guide Department for Education on transitions

St Christopher’s was delighted to welcome colleagues from the Department for Education to visit three of our residential services in London and hear what young people had to say about improving transitions from care to independence.

Attendees included the Permanent Secretary Jonathan Slater, Director of Social Care Tabitha Brufal and Chair of the Residential Care Leadership Board Sir Alan Wood, as well as representatives from the Children in Care and Permanence Team.

The day started at one of our children’s homes for an overview of St Christopher’s and our specific approach to care, before the team explained their work in more detail. This particular home is linked with our new Staying Close pilot, so young people moving onto independence can make use of the accommodation, peer mentoring and life skills support. The home also has ‘pop home’ beds for when young people who have left the service want to come back and visit the people who are most important to them.

Next they visited our Staying Close accommodation to find out how participation and co-production shapes the project. Two young people from our Safe Steps home had kindly prepared lunch for the visitors and chatted about their experiences of St Christopher’s, before staff described the key elements of the Staying Close pilot, the progress they have made since opening, and how they are overcoming challenges. The entire project has been co-produced with young people to bridge the gap between leaving residential care and independent living, so it is a great example of how St Christopher’s empowers young people to take part in service design and delivery.

Finally the DfE representatives visited a 16+ supported housing service. They met with staff and three young people to discuss a project that had recently taken place where young people identified what works in transitions and trained managers on how they could make this easier for the care leavers they work with.

By meeting children and young people face to face, the visitors had the chance to hear directly about the issues that are most important to their futures. Staff supported young people to take part if they wanted to, but also supported those who chose not to participate in line with our participation policy.

'Just returned from a fascinating visit to three of St Christopher's projects in London. Enjoyed meeting highly motivated young people and determined and impressive staff teams. Lots of thoughtful ideas and suggestions for residential care. Keep up the good work!'
Sir Alan Wood, Chair of the Residential Care Leadership Board

Director of Corporate Services Geneva Ellis said: “I want to say an absolutely huge thank you to you all for the care and attention staff put into making it a valuable visit for our guests and making sure that our young people had opportunities to share their views (or not!) as they desired. It is really important for children in care to have their say and know that their views are listened to, valued and respected.”