After successfully supporting children in care in the UK, I have been invited to Australia to share my story and inspire others.
The International Foster Care Organisation is the worlds largest fostering organisation, sharing best practice globally to support the development of fostering services, ensuring the best possible outcomes for children in care.
It has been a big dream of mine to speak at this conference and over the past four years I have applied to do this, this year I was recognised for my consistent work and success trying to improve the life chances of children in care and they have invited me to speak!
The conference is in Sydney, Australia and comprises of the worlds leading expert in childrens services, I will be representing the UK and helping the world understand how we can improve services by empowering young peoples voices.
Its an amazing opportunity and something that I am so honoured to be asked to do.
Unfortunately IFCO do not cover any expenses to travel to this event and I’m asking my networks to kindly sponsor me to travel, for the conference ticket and accommodation whilst in Sydney.
However your sponsorship will not go without a big thank you from me, you will find that I am giving away a number of training workshops, keynote speeches and big thanks to those who choose to support me on this journey.
I want to take this space to thank you all for your continuing support, believe and inspiring me to be able to do the work I do. If it was not for the people around me that supported this journey non of the success in my work would have been possible.
Please see below a short summery below of my work to date and for more please visit my websites below.
I was a child who grew up in a family of abuse and violence, I was moved in to foster care at the age of 10 years old after already attending 11 primary schools. From the age of 10-15 years old I lived in 10 foster placements, I was branded an under achiever and placed in to bed and breakfast accommodation just before my 16th birthday and left to live independently. I decided that I wanted better for myself, in my teenage years I began speaking about my experiences as an attempt to make a difference and inspire other young people who had experienced the same.
During this I was scouted by the CEO of the UK's largest fostering agency, the National Fostering Agency. I worked for the NFA for 3 years in which time I developed a framework to integrate the voice of the children in to service delivery, ensuring that young people's voices where at the heart of service improvement, this agency was awarded outstanding by OFSTED, the UK's regulatory board for childrens services. I left the agency and set up Foster Focus an organisation that worked with other organisations to develop sustainable and purposeful organisational structures to involve the voice of the child in to service improvement, ensuring that services where effective and user lead in their approach, ensuring that young people are heard, respected and have an empowered to improve services.
Over my time at Focus Focus I worked with the Buttle Trust to develop a Higher Education Kite Mark that is recognised nationally, that ensures University's have adequate support for children who have left care to study there.
I developed a 'service user involvement framework' for university's that offer social work as a program. The framework enables people who have experienced social care services to be involved in the teaching of social work to new students, the design and development of the course and the admissions process. This project was first implemented to the University of Birmingham who then went on to be awarded the Social Work Course of The Year Award form the Russell Group.
I have lead on 3 European projects, working in Germany, The Netherlands and Serbia, developing strategies to share practice and create international networks so that social work students could attend study visits and learn from each countries governance and policies when working with childrens services.
From this work I was awarded the Childrens Achievement Award in 2013 from Children and Young People Now, the UK's leading media outlet for childrens services and in 2014 I was awarded the 'Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award', from Unltd, the UK's leading organisation for social enterprise.
Currently I work in partnership with a number of nationally and globally recognised organisation, including the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy and the Nationwide Association for Fostering Providers, were I develop strategies for organisations working with children to help better engage with them to meet their needs.
Im a member of the research team at University of Oxford's research centre into fostering research, helping them guide, shape and implement research. I am also apart of the teaching team at Oxford University and work with them to develop and facilitate training and lectures to a number of their programs, all of which aim to raise awareness and educate about topics surrounding children in care.
Both of the awards recognised my personal achievement of overcoming adversity and my professional commitment to developing innovation in the childrens services, providing sustainable solutions to improving childrens services so that we can better the life chances of children in care.
Now at 24 years old I understand I have achieved a lot and overcome the label of the underachiever, not only that but I have proven to a service that if we integrate childrens voices in the the delivery and improvement we can create a sustainable and purposeful impact that will better the life chances of children in care.