Affinity have a young person lead group, called "Voices", who meet regularly to discuss issues important to them and advise Affinity in their policies and literature for children and young people.
Earlier in the year, Affinity Participation Workers helped the members of Voices to enter into a project run by the charity Become, called Passport for Parliament. In this, they learnt about Democracy, Parliament and how to get their voices heard on issues they feel are important. With the ongoing support of Affinity's Participation Workers and Become, Voices began to work on a project that they felt strongly about, on the issue of holding Child In Care Reviews in school. They made a short video to illustrate this issue, which you can see here on Affinity’s Youtube channel-
This video is all Voice’s own work and inspired them to not stop there. Following the completion of the video, they wrote to the Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi MP in June to ask for his feedback and support on the issue. You can see the letter attached below.
A few short weeks later Nadhim Zahawi MP replied, with a supportive and thorough reply that the Voices group were incredibly proud of. He promised also to forward the video for further dissemination to NIROMP(National IRO Managers Partnership) group, to share with IRO's up and down the country. Courtney from our Voices Group had this to say about the letter from Nadhim Zahawi-
"It's fantastic that our Voices group got a personal reply from Nadhim Zahawi MP and the video was acknowledged and shared. We are hopeful of significant changes in the future for us all, from our hard work."
Affinity contacted NIROMP's chairperson Sharon Martin this week, who had already been made aware of the video from the Department of Education
The video campaign is now a central part of NIROMP’s website. In addition, the letter from Nadhim Zahawi MP is now being circulated to IRO's via NIROMP regional leads. You can see NIROMP's message with our video on their website here-
NIROMP are now working with Affinity to further this campaign, creating steps to illustrate progress with a view to incorporating specific actions as part of their work plan. Affinity are also asking for feedback from all schools that young people in care with Affinity attend, Local Authorities and Virtual Heads.
This is all down to our young people and their impassioned work in the Voices group and we are delighted with the progress made thus far in their campaign. The education through Passport to Parliament project and the outlet in the Voices group have really shown our young people that their voices can be, and should always be, listened to, and has empowered them to create real changes that affect not just them, but all young people in foster care.