Avocados is a developing organisation aiming to improve the wellbeing and achievements of care experienced people in Devon. So what makes us special or different to what is available already? We are completely independent of the local authority and we are setting up a steering group of young people with direct care experience to guide what we do and how we do it. As well as this we will offer membership to all service users, ensuring our support is always reviewed and relevant.
The idea of Avocados comes from multiple avenues. Personal experience of one of our directors but also this combined with the experiences of other care leavers in Devon shows that some needs are not being met with current support and increased demand on current resources.
We are aware that the Local Authority provides services but we believe giving children in care and care leavers an independent organisation to support them and be part of would be more beneficial; as well as this we will be offering support to post 25 when statutory support ends.
Did you know:
In Devon there are nearly 600 children in care.
In the UK, one third of care leavers become homeless within 2 years of leaving care.
Care leavers make up approximately one quarter of the prison population, despite only 1% of the population being care experienced.
Half of children in care are diagnosed with a mental health disorder, compared to only 10% of the child population.
Approximately 70% of sex workers are care experienced.
THE FIRST AREAS OF AVOCADOS IN DEVELOPMENT:
Legal Advocacy –
We have become aware of children who really do not understand what being taken into care means, how this impacts them legally and the legal implications that this has on them…
We believe legal advocacy can assist with understanding the law around different care orders and sections that may remove children from the care of their parents; accessing records and understanding them; ensuring young people are receiving the local offer correctly; questioning incorrect care; making sure young people's voices are heard in a way that matters and can make a difference.
Additionally, we plan to develop our legal support further and eventually offer reviews of Local Offers (comparing nationally) and the auditing of cases.
A community for those with care experience - The idea of having a space for those with care experience, of all ages, to form a community that is independent from the local authority is really important to us. Having a space (virtual and also physical) that is developed by care leavers and children in care, we feel would lead to more meaningful engagement and is the core of what we are trying to create.
We are developing an online Question and Answer service so that anyone in care/with care experience can write to us and receive a response. As this service grows we will consider other methods of communication such as web chat.
Mentoring programme -
Children in care are matched with care leavers/adults with direct experience of the care system and are offered support with specific areas of life. This could be help with schooling, attending social clubs, hobbies or simply a coffee once a month for a chat. Helping this group develop new skills, meet new people and offer consistent, caring relationships is paramount to this service. All of our mentors will be highly trained and will be matched to young people with similar interests, hobbies and personal preference.
Training, consultancy and workshops - We are developing a series of training programmes for professionals that are developed and run by Care leavers. This will really enable those working with this community to hear the voices and experiences of those that are at the centre of the work of key agencies like Schools, Colleges, Local authorities and Health settings.
Trafficking support -
We want to train to become guardians to support victims of child trafficking and abuse. We feel passionately about the extent to which trafficking of children is happening and want to raise awareness and look at how we can support this group of young people.
We want every care experienced person to know they are just as important, valued and worthy as anyone else in society and they are wholly capable of living a life they choose.