During previous roles in employment with a local authority, I regularly worked with young people who had been taken into care and either placed with foster carers or in local authority accommodation. When I worked in a Pupil Referral Unit, I held a multi-faceted role and part of the remit was to act as a dedicated personal tutor to certain pupils, which involved regular communication and consultation meetings with parents / carers and all other agencies working with the young person. Another aspect of this role was acting in an advisory capacity as Behaviour Consultant to designated local secondary schools within inner city Birmingham. As such I was regularly involved in the discussions around PSPs for individual children in care who were at risk of exclusion from school. I attended multi-agency meetings, often collaborating with the representatives of the other agencies over the duration of the PSP. Therefore, although my role was essentially a teaching role, I have had extensive experience in working with, supporting and acting as advocate for vulnerable young people in care.
Now as a freelance consultant, in 2017 -18, I have been hired to provide private tuition to two young people in care, separately, but coincidentally both girls moving from KS3 to KS4. I was chosen not simply due to my experience and background, but also my patient, positive and nurturing approach. Both girls required a degree of confidence-building in Maths, so I utilised my skills learnt as a Learning Mentor, my knowledge of Multiple Intelligence and my experience of young people both as a teacher and mother, to implement strategies to try to overcome the barriers they were experiencing. I undertook two terms of intervention work (plus over the summer in between) with one young girl and on completion of the project, her Head of Year thanked me and asked if he could pass on my details for recommendation to his colleagues, saying “I have been impressed with her commitment, communication & flexibility.” I continue to tutor the other young girl and her mother regularly sends me messages after the tuition sessions thanking me and saying how much she enjoyed the session.
During June and July 2017, I worked with Birmingham’s Women and Theatre company (founded by BBC Radio 2’s ‘Barbara Nice’, Janice Connolly BEM) on their established ‘Word Lounge’ project. This is open specifically to young people in care in the West Midlands, as well as young carers and secondary-aged pupils with additional educational needs. As a facilitator, I supported both the professional creative artists and the young people in a number of sessions, culminating in two live performances at the Birmingham Hippodrome. During sessions, I participated in activities led by the professional artists and supported the young people in the creative process of exploring and recording their ‘voice’ in whichever genre they chose to work, always being encouraging, positive and solution-focused. I also worked with W&T during August 2017 supporting the delivery of the Bronze level Arts Award available to the same young people again at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
In June 2018, I collaborated with a local social enterprise, Aspire4U CIC on a day project for Dudley MBC. With my extensive background of working with vulnerable young people, I was invited and entrusted with the role of facilitating a workshop forming part of a day of creative activities, during which young people were able to express their feelings about being in care. Their views were recorded and collated and fed back as part of a focus group. Under the non-threatening umbrella of 'comedy', we explored the participants' 'best ever memory' of being in care and the young people were encouraged and supported in creating a small piece of performance art to convey this to the audience. Examples were a funny story that happened on a holiday with carers and a story full of affection for how a young girl met her best friend while both being in care. Care was taken in establishing the groups' 'Circle of Trust' and I led a short guided meditation with the group to focus our attention on the positive memories and to encourage relaxation and creativity in our thoughts.