Billie-Jo's Blog, 10 August 2016

Wednesday, 10 August 2016 13:08

So last week, VOYPIC set up a meeting with Michelle O'Neill, the Minister of Health, and I was lucky enough to get invited along to join in on the discussion! Now getting to meet a Minister is what I feel is an honour and normally you'd feel like you have to be official and all. But Michelle made everyone feel so at ease and she listened to everything we had to say. Courtesy of Eithne's love for detail and organisation, we sat down as a group before Minister O'Neill joined us and discussed what we wanted to talk about and these were the topics we chose (disclaimer: these are more my views than group views).

Voice

All children in care and care leavers need their voices heard, be this in general life situations or at LAC Reviews. If you are making a decision about someone's lives, they need to be there to help you decide!

Stability

Stability comes in so many forms and children in care suffer too much from instability and this affects children in different ways. So many children in care are uprooted or have social worker changes, they have no stability and can't build relationships which impacts other life aspects. Introduce more stability... and you put a child on track for a better life.

Effective and Extended Support

This is pretty self-explanatory but is vital. There needs to be help for everyone until 25 but maybe from 21-25 should be a real focus to help with independence. There also needs to be more support for care leavers around their 18th birthday as they may be asked to leave foster placements or residential placements. If this is what is to happen, the service user should be made aware in advance and then social workers can help equip them with the skills and resources they need to adapt to this level of independence.

Standards of Practice and Resources

Okay, so out of all the topics picked, this is the topic I'm most passionate about. Two years ago, the difference in help between Trusts, and even between offices of the same Trust, was ridiculous and it seemed it came down to circumstances and/or relationship with a social worker. Everyone deserves the same help and this should be determined by your circumstances. Relationships between social workers and service users differs too. I've an amazing relationship with my social worker but some friends seem to have bad relationships. This may come down to the caseloads social workers have. This is where resources are important!

I know what I want to do when I graduate but I don't know if I'll get employed, yet there is such a demand for more social workers! Key point here: hire more social workers!

So this is a rather big blog but if I'm honest, people want to know our opinions and this is mine.

As Minister O'Neill said 'I don't know best - you do, but I'll not be accused of not listening.'

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