What makes life good? Care leavers’ views on their well-being

Since 2013, the Bright Spots programme has worked with children in care and care leavers to explore what makes life good for them. Their well-being is measured by the Your Life Your Care and Your Life Beyond Care surveys, which were coproduced with children and young people to capture what they felt was important. The Bright Spots programme has worked with almost 60 local authorities in England and Wales, collecting over 15,000 responses from children and young people in and leaving care. Using the surveys, we have worked with local authorities to understand how children and young people feel about their lives and have identified examples of practice improvement that were developed as a result of what young people said.

One of our most recent reports, What Makes Life Good, Care leavers’ views on their Well-being’, published by Coram Voice in collaboration with The Rees Centre showed the steep decline care leavers’ well-being after young people left care. Drawing on the Bright Spots Programme, the report examined the well being of care leavers by analysing 1,804 care leaver responses collected between 2017 and 2019 in 21 local authorities in England. This session presented the findings from the report and explore what care leavers say makes their lives good and where work is needed to make the transition easier and  their lives better. It also showcased some of the ways in which the local authorities we have worked with have responded to their local findings.

Presenter: Linda Briheim-Crookall, Head of Policy and Practice Development, Coram Voice

All the information about the Brightspots project can be accessed on the Coram Voice website

Information for local authorities interested in joining the Brightspots project is here

If you would like to read more of the Coram Voice research, the publications can be found here

External events notice

How Does the Well-Being of Children in Foster Care in Wales Compare with that of other Welsh Children?

Well-being is meant to be at the heart of services for children and adults in Wales – yet there is little research on the wellbeing of children in care. How happy and satisfied are children in care in Wales – particularly compared to other children?

This seminar reports on research comparing children in care with a much larger group of other children in Wales to answer questions about how satisfied they are with life and what factors influence whether they are happy. It compares the wellbeing of 22 children in foster care aged 10-13 with a large national sample of 2627 other children.

This is as far as we are aware the first research able to make such a comparison, and the large sample allows us to explore not just care but also the impact of other factors such as deprivation. The findings were interesting and unexpected. This seminar will present initial findings and then open up a discussion about how we might help improve the wellbeing of children in care and the importance of considering subjective wellbeing alongside more “objective” measures such as educational achievement.

Presenters: Dr Jen Hampton (WISERD), Professor Colette McAuley (CASCADE)  Professor Donald Forrester (CASCADE Director) Cardiff University.

Date & Time: September 15th, 12pm

What difference does local authority care make to the lives of vulnerable children? Longitudinal analyses of a retrospective electronic cohort

The proposed research aims to examine, over time, education and health outcomes of children who are looked after (CLA) by the local authority (i.e. in care). Existing studies that use only one point in time have shown that CLA have poorer educational and health outcomes than the general population. Pre-care experiences, such as physical abuse, parental mental health illness and parental alcohol misuse, are common reasons for becoming looked after. These experiences also predict poorer health, education and social outcomes in young people who are not in care. For these reasons, it is difficult to understand whether poorer health and educational outcomes for CLA are because of differences in pre-care experiences, or of care itself. 

This research, for the first time, linked an existing Wales-wide dataset on education and health with routinely collected data on young people’s support from social services. The research is exploring three objectives. First, addresses the lack of large-scale studies in the UK that statistically examine the role of CLA status in predicting educational outcomes and health over time. Second, it will reduce uncertainty over the extent to which poor outcomes among CLA are because of pre-care experiences, or experiences of being in care. This will be achieved through comparison between CLA, and children who receive help from social services but are not CLA (Children In Need, but Not Looked After – NLA). There are likely to be differences between these two groups that predict why one group becomes CLA and the other does not, but NLA are likely to be more similar to CLA than children not known to services. To take account of some further differences between groups, we will adjust for physical abuse, parental mental health illness, parental alcohol misuse and domestic violence. Third, whilst CLA status is often based on the assumption that removing young people from adversity will move them toward better life trajectories, this study will be the first to examine over time the role of care in reducing the effects of pre-care experiences on education and health care outcomes. 

The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Presenter: Dr Sara Long, DECIPHer, Cardiff University.

Here2there.me: a person-centred planning and outcomes recording app

H2t.me is in its final phase of development involving pilots across a range of services in Wales and has won a National Welsh Government SBRI challenge called Better Lives Closer to Home. It has been piloted in learning disability, children’s services and work support.

The App supports any individual receiving targeted support to take much greater levels of control over what is important TO them, as well as for them. It also allows the people supporting them to effectively evidence the impact of their interventions.

H2t.me supports the individual (alongside a Mentor) to:

  • Create a strength-based profile of what is important to them and their future;
  • Identify a Circle of Support; individuals in their life who can support and encourage them;
  • Identify a set of goals and actions that will support them to achieve their desired outcomes;
  • Collect a rich story of achievement through words and pictures via a smartphone or tablet;
  • Review how far they have travelled towards each goal through regular meetings.

The support organisation is able to coordinate the whole process and record evidence of achievement against both the individual’s own goals (in their words) and against KPIs such as the National Outcomes Framework for Wales.

Activity is recorded in real time, similar to many social media platforms, and supporters are able to view progress and provide encouragement in a joined-up way.

This webinar gave an overview of the App, its current and potential use in practice, and the benefits for service users and providers.

Presented by Roger Rowett, Director of Here2there.me Ltd.

Motivational interviewing for working with children and families: a conversation

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is now widely used in services for children, playing a key part in innovations such as Family Drug and Alcohol Courts, the Family Safeguarding model and Intensive Family Support Teams. In this webinar, Steve Rollnick (co-creator of Motivational Interviewing) is in conversation with Donald Forrester, David Wilkins and Charlie Whittaker about their new book on this topic.

The book, “Motivational Interviewing for Working with Children and Families: A Practical Guide for Early Intervention and Child Protection” is available here.

Presenters: Steve Rollnick Co-creator of Motivational Interviewing, Donald Forrester and David Wilkins, Cardiff University, and Charlotte Whittaker

Health inequalities and dementia care: what matters to people living with dementia and their families?

Little is known about the dementia experiences and additional challenges faced by communities with multiple identities linked to ethnic background, sexuality and disability. In this session you will be hearing about a project that aimed to address this significant gap in engaging and understanding the needs of diverse communities (Bengali, Greek, Somali, Welsh speaking, LGBT, Culturally Deaf, deaf, visually impaired and with Down Syndrome) of people affected by dementia and their carers in Wales. More specifically, Dr Sofia Vougioukalou, Research Fellow at Y Lab, Cardiff University will be discussing the broader framework of health inequalities in dementia care with a focus on language and micro-aggressions. Suzanne Duval BEM, Black and Minority Ethnic Mental Health Services manager at Diverse Cymru will be discussing her policy engagement on ethnicity and dementia care in Wales. Anne Rees, a former children’s social worker and diversity information officer at Alzheimer’s Society Cymru will be discussing the impact of equalities legislation on dementia care.

Presenters: Sofia Vougioukalou, Cardiff University, Suzanne Duval from Diverse Cymru and Anne Mears-Rees from Promo Cymru. 

Download a copy of the presentation

Download a copy of the Lets talk about dementia report 

Additional Resources

Dementia issues concerning BAME communities

Early signs of dementia poster:





As I walk the last mile of the way report – collection of interviews with families impacted by dementia:



Caring for someone with dementia: A guide for family and friends.



10, 000 voices: Looked after children and young people’s views on their well-being

The Bright Spots Programme began in 2013 with the aim of understanding children and young people’s experience of care.  The Programme uses four online surveys of well-being to capture the views of looked after children (age 4-7 years and 8-10 years), young people (11-18 years), and care leavers (18-25 years).  In this presentation survey data from 10,000 children and young people (age 4-18yrs) will be used to consider the indicators associated with low and very high well-being with a particular focus on two indicators:   having a trusted adult to rely on and feelings about appearance. 

Presented by Julie Selwyn, Professor of Education and Adoption, CBE , Rees Centre, Oxford University

BASW Cymru wellbeing workshop: Implementing the BASW ‘Social Worker Wellbeing and Working Conditions Good Practice Toolkit’

In this workshop we will explore what wellbeing means to social workers, looking at the differences between hedonistic and eudaimonic wellbeing and what that means to you in practice.

We will use the BASW ‘Social Worker Wellbeing and Working Conditions Good Practice Toolkit’ https://www.basw.co.uk/social-worker-wellbeing-and-working-conditions as a framework to help you be more informed and empowered to look after yourself better at work and to recognise when you need support; how to access it; know your rights and what you should expect from your employer.

In the workshop we will focus on section 1 of the Toolkit: Self-care; Accessing continuing professional development; professional community and collective identity; trade union support; taking action.

The workshop will be participatory to include strategies that support individual and collective workforce wellbeing.

Well-being outcomes – from metrics to meaning

An outcomes approach to practice has been promoted for many years, as have attempts to meaningfully record them. A strong emphasis on rehabilitation focused change outcomes has sometimes resulted in practitioner led outcomes rather than personal outcomes. It has also led to the neglect of other important well-being outcomes, particularly amongst older people with high support needs,who cannot always be rehabilitated. 

A prevailing performance driven culture of proving rather than improving has led to the introduction of reductionist approaches to measurement with a focus on scoring numbers. However, capturing truly personal outcomes can be elusive. Success appears to lie more in stories than in numbers. 

In this seminar, Nick will set out some of the challenges and successes around recording and using personal outcomes information in social care. He will also introduce the recent Social Care Wales guidance on recording personal outcomes, ‘Friend not Foe’ that he has been working on with Emma Miller from the University of Strathclyde and Jess Matthews in Social Care Wales.

The seminar encouraged lively discussion about the ups and downs of the outcomes agenda. 

Webinar presented by Nick Andrews, Swansea University

Additional Resources recommended by the presenter

What Works Wellbeing

Person-Centred Community Care Inventory (PERCCI)

King’s Fund experienced-based co-design (and Magic / Tragic)

ESRC Meaningful and Measurable Collaborative Action Research project

Anti-racism in social work

Wayne Reid is a Professional Officer with the British Association of Social Work (BASW) and a widely revered inspirational speaker and campaigner for racial equality. 

In this webinar, the first in our #blacklivesmatter series, Wayne will reflect on the #blacklivesmatter movement and the meaning of anti-racism – the belief that all races and ethnic groups are equal and deserving of the same opportunities.

Anti-racism requires action to tackle existing inequality.  Wayne will explore how this is relevant to social work, through professional standards, code of ethics, cultural competence and the underpinning values of social justice.


Wayne Reid is a Professional Officer & Social Worker for BASW England and lives in Sheffield.  Wayne has worked in: private fostering; the Probation Service; youth offending; adult mental health; child protection and with care leavers.  

Wayne’s career reflects his dedication to supporting vulnerable members of society, working with diverse professionals from across all sectors to improve service standards and meet holistic needs.  His wide-ranging career has enabled him to understand the dynamic contextual factors that affect the strategic planning, implementation and review of effective Social Work services and the direct impact this has on service-users, practitioners and the public.

As a black male Social Worker, Wayne understands some of the challenges that service-users and practitioners from different minority groups can face.  From his experience, Wayne believes academic and ‘life education’ are essential to improve an individual’s quality of life and life chances.  Wayne adds: “Social Work is a vital multi-faceted international service that: coordinates support for the most vulnerable people in society; assesses and manages risk; addresses problematic behaviours and relationships; champions equality and social justice; optimises service-users’ strengths, promotes human decency and creates meaningful opportunities for social mobility”.