#MessagestoSocialWorkers – A film created by Care Experienced Young People

We worked with a group of young people in care who attend a project run by the Roots Foundation Wales and the South West Wales Reaching Wider Partnership – Swansea University to create this film. The film represents the key messages that young people wanted to share with social workers.

The group meets regularly and offers care experienced young people the opportunity to meet together for social events, educational opportunities and a range of activities. In January and February 2019 we worked with the group make our first collaborative film #FromYoungPeopleForYoungPeople – Find Your Tribe

In the summer of 2019, we met up again to think about what other messages were important and who should hear these messages. We started by brainstorming ideas and deciding on the main messages then got to work on scripting and creating visual elements for the film. We used story boards to try and put together the group’s ideas then experimented with drawing, stickers and fuzzy felts.

The original images made by the group were used as the basis for the film animation, bringing to life the messages the young people wanted to share with the help of Like an Egg. These messages were created by young people based on their experiences. The film represents their ideas about how they would like to work with social workers in the future. These are their #messagestosocialworkers. We hope you enjoy the film.

Dawn Mannay – School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University @dawnmannay

Rachael Vaughan – CASCADE: Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre, Cardiff University @VaughanRach

Helen Davies – South West Wales Reaching Wider Partnership – Swansea University @ReachingWiderSU

Emma Jones – Roots Foundation Wales @RootsWales

The Value of Cultural and Creative Engagement: Understanding the Experiences and Opinions of Care-experienced Young People and Foster Carers in Wales

RESEARCH REPORT

Authors: Dawn Mannay, Phil Smith, Stephen Jennings, Catt Turney and Peter Davies

Report Commissioned by the Wales Millennium Centre

Year: 2018

Summary:

The research aimed to assess the current knowledge base regarding care-experienced children’s and young people’s engagement with the arts, and to explore the views of facilitators, young people, and their carers involved in the arts-based programme at the Wales Millennium Centre.

Objective 1: Collate and report relevant data and literature.
Objective 2: Conduct an in-depth qualitative research study with programme facilitators, care-experienced young people, and their foster families to provide insight into their experience of being involved with the arts-based programme, and their opinions on what could be done to improve the model and encourage engagement with the arts more widely.

Enabling talk and reframing messages: working creatively with care experienced children and young people to recount and re-represent their everyday experiences

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Authors: Dawn Mannay, Eleanor Staples, Sophie Hallett, Louise Roberts , Alyson Rees, Rhiannon Evans and Darren Andrews

Year: 2018

Summary:

The educational experiences and outcomes of care experienced children and young people is of longstanding concern. The pervasive inequalities they face suggest that current policies have been unable to respond fully to the complex causes of the problem. This paper reflects on a qualitative study into the educational experiences and aspirations of children and young people who are looked after in Wales. The project worked with care experienced peer researchers and drew on visual, creative and participatory techniques to explore 67 children’s and young people’s experiences of education and, importantly, their opinions on what could be done to improve it. This multimodal approach allowed space for participants to think through their subjective, mundane, but important, experiences that operate alongside, and interact with, more structural challenges. A range of films, magazines, artwork, and music outputs were developed to ensure that the project recommendations could reach wide and diverse audiences. This paper argues the voices of children and young people need to be given a platform to inform policy and practice. For this to happen researchers need to be creative in their approaches to both fieldwork and dissemination; harnessing the power of the arts to make positive changes in the everyday lives of children and young people.

To link to this article click here

British Educational Research Journal – The consequences of being labelled ‘looked-after’: Exploring the educational experiences of looked-after children and young people in Wales

JOURNAL ARTICLE

Authors: Dawn Mannay, Rhiannon Evans, Eleanor Staples, Sophie Hallet, Louise Roberts, Alyson Rees, Darren Andrews

Year: 2017

Summary:

The educational experiences and attainment of looked-after children and young people (LACYP) remains an issue of widespread international concern. Within the UK, children and young people in care achieve poorer educational outcomes compared to individuals not in care. Despite proliferation of research documenting the reasons for educational disadvantage amongst this population, there remains limited empirical consideration of the lived experiences of the educational system, as perceived by LACYP themselves. This paper draws upon qualitative research with 67 care-experienced children and young people in Wales. The sample was aged 6–27 years, and comprised 27 females and 40 males. Participants had experienced a range of care placements. Findings focus on how educational policies and practices alienate LACYP from dominant discourses of educational achievement through assignment of the ‘supported’ subject position, where children and young people are permitted and even encouraged not to succeed academically due to their complex and disrupted home circumstances. However, such diminished expectations are rejected by LACYP, who want to be pushed and challenged in the realisation of their potential. The paper argues that more differentiated understandings of LACYP’s aspirations and capabilities need to be embedded into everyday practices, to ensure that effective educational support systems are developed.

Understanding the educational experiences and opinions, attainment, achievement and aspirations of looked after children in Wales

RESEARCH REPORT

Authors: Dawn Mannay, Eleanor Staples, Sophie Hallett, Louise Roberts, Alyson Rees, Rhiannon Evans, Darren Andrews

Year: 2015

Report summary:

In December 2014 the Welsh Government, on behalf of Welsh Ministers, invited tenders for a study to explore the educational experiences and opinions, attainment, achievement and aspirations of looked after children in Wales. Following a competitive tender process, a multidisciplinary team of researchers at the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) Cardiff University, led by Dr Dawn Mannay from the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, were appointed to undertake the research project in January 2015. The project was undertaken in partnership with Voices from Care Cymru, The Fostering Network and Spice Innovations. This study was undertaken in response to two key objectives set out by the Welsh Government.

  • Objective 1: Conduct an in-depth qualitative research study with looked after children, to provide insight into their experience of education and their opinions on what could be done to improve it.
  • Objective 2: Collate and report relevant data and literature.

#MessagestoSocialWorkers – A film created by care-experienced young people

In the #MessagestoSocialWorkers project, we worked with a group of young people in care who attend a project run by the Roots Foundation Wales and the South West Wales Reaching Wider Partnership – Swansea University to create this film. It represents the key messages that young people want to share with social workers.

The group meets regularly and offers care-experienced young people the opportunity to meet for social events, educational opportunities, and a range of activities. In January and February 2019 we worked with the group to make our first collaborative film: #FromYoungPeopleForYoungPeople – Find Your Tribe.

In the summer of 2019, we met up again to think about what other messages were important as well as who should hear them. We brainstormed ideas and decided on the main messages and got to work on scripting and creating visual elements for the film. We used storyboards to try and put together the group’s ideas then experimented with drawing, stickers, and fuzzy felts.

The original images – created by young people based on their experiences and made by the group, were used as the basis for the film animation, bringing to life the messages the young people wanted to share, along with help of Like an Egg Productions. The film represents their ideas about how they would like to work with social workers in the future. These are their #messagestosocialworkers.

Dawn Mannay – School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University @dawnmannay
Rachael Vaughan – CASCADE: Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre, Cardiff University @VaughanRach
Helen Davies – South West Wales Reaching Wider Partnership – Swansea University @ReachingWiderSU
Emma Jones – Roots Foundation Wales @RootsWales

The Value of Cultural and Creative Engagement

Understanding the experiences and opinions of care-experienced young people and foster carers in Wales

The Wales Millennium Centre ran an arts-based programme in 2018 which was funded and supported by the Confidence in Care Consortium led by The Fostering Network in Wales. The programme was delivered between May and July and involved eight care-experienced young people and their foster families. The Wales Millennium Centre commissioned Cardiff University to conduct research with care-experienced young people and their foster carers, and facilitators involved with the delivery of the arts project. The involvement of the team at Cardiff University was related to their earlier projects with CASCADE: Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre.

The research aimed to assess the current knowledge base regarding care-experienced children’s and young people’s engagement with the arts, and to explore the views of facilitators, young people, and their carers involved in the arts-based programme at the Wales Millennium Centre.

WMC 3.jpg

Objective 1: Collate and report relevant data and literature.

Objective 2: Conduct an in-depth qualitative research study with programme facilitators, care-experienced young people, and their foster families to provide insight into their experience of being involved with the arts-based programme, and their opinions on what could be done to improve the model and encourage engagement with the arts more widely.

WMC 5.jpg

The project involved a range of activities such as singing, drama, games, character design and puppet-making. There was a session with puppeteers from the War Horse theatre production and everyone got to watch War Horse in the final week. Foster carers participated in some of the activities and others were only for young people. Young people also completed an Arts Award certificate in the development of their arts and leadership skills.

Although the project was aimed at young people, foster carers enjoyed taking part in the games and creative activities. They also reported a real benefit from meeting other foster carers and making new supportive networks. The young people involved all reported a wide range of benefits, including improved confidence, learning new creative skills, teamwork, patience, and making friends.

“I learned that I’m creative. I learned how to make a puppet move and how horses move and walk.” Charley

“I learned how to overcome challenges and to have fun. I learned how to be confident around others.” Amy

“We all worked together in a team. Working in a team is AMAZING!” Ebony

“I’m proud of myself not getting into conflict and I managed to make friends and my confidence has improved.” Bella

WMC 1.jpg

The benefits went beyond the project and young people used what they learnt in other contexts such as drama and art classes at school. Two young people went on to join a drama group and performed in a recent play.  Foster carers talked about how the young people they care for had grown in confidence across the project, as did the facilitators who saw a real transformation in young people. The research team attended the sessions as well as interviewing all those involved, and saw the significant impact the project had on everyone involved.

The project report raised a series of 18 recommendations including;

  • Future studies on this topic should foreground participant-centred feedback from care-experienced young people, as many rely largely on adult-reported feedback. This study drew on the perspectives of foster carers, facilitators and care-experienced young people and this model should be adopted in future work to gain a more nuanced understanding and evaluation of arts-based programmes.
  • This study reported a number of benefits from attending the programme, including improved confidence, social and emotional development, and arts-based skills, which were evidenced in the accounts of young people, foster carers and facilitators. Future research should adopt a longitudinal approach to explore whether these perceived benefits are transient or have lasting impacts.
  • Future programmes should provide free to access activities for care-experienced young people and explore transitionary pathways into further activities to increase the sustainability of arts interventions.
  • Future programmes should consider the ways in which arts-based projects can access, engage and include children and young people in care who do not have the support of an ‘engaged’ foster carer.

Cardiff University is continuing to work with The Fostering Network and Wales Millennium Centre to consider further opportunities for care experienced young people to engage with the arts and culture.

References

Mannay, D., Smith, P., Jennings, S., Turney, C. and Davies, P. 2018. The value of cultural and creative engagement: Understanding the experiences and opinions of care-experienced young people and foster carers in Wales. Project Report. Cardiff: Wales Millennium Centre.

Mannay, D., Smith, P., Jennings, S., Turney, C. and Davies, P. Executive Summary: The value of cultural and creative engagement: Understanding the experiences and opinions of care-experienced young people and foster carers in Wales. Technical Report.

LACE

Understanding the educational experiences and opinions, attainment, achievement and aspirations of looked-after* children in Wales.

Project Summary

The Welsh Government commissioned the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) in early 2015 to conduct a study with care-experienced children and young people to explore their aspirations and experiences of education.

The project summary and outputs are available on the Cascade website, ‘Understanding the educational experiences and opinions, attainment, achievement and aspirations of looked-after* children in Wales’, and it is widely known as The LACE Project.

*The term ‘care-experienced’ children is now a widely used term in the sector and refers more broadly to anyone who has experienced being in care, regardless of their placement length, type or age. 

Creative Outputs

Alongside the report and executive summary, CASCADE also produced a number of innovative visual and audio materials to help disseminate the findings and recommendations of the research to a diverse range of audiences. These include the following videos, audio files, films, magazines and artwork.

Videos

Never look behind
Breathe
Continuity

Audio

Films

Aspirations of Looked After Children in Wales
Looked after children’s opinions on what needs to change in education
Looked after children and education in Wales 
Educational experiences of looked after children in Wales 

Posters

Magazines

Messages to schools

Following on from the LACE project, CASCADE received further funding from the Economic and Social Research Council for work around ‘Improving the educational experiences and attainment of looked after children and young people’. Consultations with children and young people led to the development of these key #messagestoschools:

#messagestoschools: The IAA Project

Following on from the LACE Project, the IAA project looked at improving the educational experiences and attainment of care experienced children and young people in Wales.

Project Summary

In May 2016, the Economic and Social Research Council provided the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) with Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) funding to build on the findings and recommendations from the LACE project and get the messages out to diverse audiences.

The project, ‘Improving the educational experiences and attainment of looked after children and young people’ involved a series of events, workshops, consultations, and the development of a range of materials to deliver some important #messagestoschools.

Project Outputs

Consultations with care experienced children and young people, as well as a poetry competition for those in care and care leavers, led to the development of key #messagestoschools which were presented in a film, a music video and a series of posters. CASCADE worked with Voices from Care Cymru, the Care Forum Wales Looked After Children Network and the creative industries to develop a range of resources to help share these key messages to schools.

CASCADE also worked with The Fostering Network to develop the Greater Expectations magazine for foster carers.