Below are examples of how participation is already being achieved across the council and the difference it is making:

What was the activity day?

We want to make sure that children, young people, parents and carers who have experience of child protection planning have a strong voice in helping improve the help and support we provide.

To help with this, the Strengths-based Practice Team and social care staff organised a children’s activity day. The event was the first of its kind in Nottinghamshire and took place in November 2023 at MyPlace youth centre, Mansfield.

On the day 29 children aged five - 15 years old from 17 families took part in a range of activities including bonfire biscuit decorating and cookie baking, making dream catchers, lavender bags, keyrings and friendship bracelets, and playing games. Children were able to share their views about their experiences of having a social worker, and about their plans. Workers enjoyed spending the day with the child/ren they were supporting and joining in with the activities. 

What difference did the activity day make? A photo of the arts and crafts table from the activity day.

The children and young people:

  • had fun
  • gained confidence
  • took pride in what they made and valued being able to take something home to share
  • valued having time and something for themselves
  • built trust with their workers
  • realised that other children have social workers
  • had the opportunity to be listened to and give their views about having a child protection plan.

Parents and carers:

  • felt positive that children had something to do, just for them, especially when living in a busy household or small accommodation
  • had a break and time to achieve other jobs
  • enjoyed being shown the things children had made e.g. special lavender bag shared with a grandparent
  • valued how the workers shared how much they enjoyed seeing the children’s personalities shine out, about the contributions they made during the day and about their achievements
  • appreciated that the activity day had been offered, felt that it had strengthened relationships with their worker, as well as building confidence and resilience for their children
  • valued the opportunity to give their own feedback on their experiences
  • shared they would like more events like this for their children
  • were invited to a follow up coffee morning which was attended by 3 parents to help provide another space for listening and learning to family’s experiences.

The impact of the day on the children’s workers:

  • the activity day strengthened relationships between children and their social workers
  • opportunity to spend extended time with the children they support
  • learnt about interactions between brothers and sisters, and with other children
  • enjoyed seeing the children making choices, being creative, and expressing what they liked and were less interested in
  • helped them to learn about children’s dreams and worries whilst making dream catchers
  • provided a safe space for children and young people to talk if they were worried about anything
  • enjoyed conversations with parents about the day
  • all workers felt it had positively impacted on their relationship with the child/ren.

"It was great to spend more time with boys. It helped me to see a side of both of them that I have not seen before. Their likes and dislikes, their mannerisms, their interactions as siblings and how interacted with other children and adults. They were an absolute pleasure! " (Worker). 

"I think it has had a positive impact on the child's ability to share their voice and feel confident when doing this."  (Worker).  

What next?

We will continue to ask all families about their views throughout the time they are experiencing social care involvement. We are planning another activity day for a wider age range and to involve more children and young people.

We are trying to set up coffee mornings for parents and carers who have had personal experience with Nottinghamshire Children and Families Social Care Services so that we can hear their views.

We are thinking about other ways we could hear and learn from children, young people, parents and carers.

We are taking steps to make sure when we hear views and ideas from children, young people and families, that with their permission, these are shared with the workers who are involved in providing support and services for families. We want to make sure that everyone involved knows when things are working well, but also that families can have an influence over the improvement of services, where changes are felt needed.

When we arrange activity days we will also ask everyone involved if they want to hear feedback in future about how their views have made a difference to the experiences of children and families.

Contact: CFSStrengthsBasedPractice@nottscc.gov.uk

The Outstanding Achievement 4Uth awards, launched in 2012, celebrates young individuals from Nottinghamshire who have made a positive impact on their communities. The awards aim to honour young people who have overcome significant challenges and achieved great things for themselves, their families, or their communities. Every year, young people aged 11 to 25 are nominated for these awards by their friends, family, teachers, youth workers, and other support workers.

How are young people selected?

Each district in Nottinghamshire shortlists three nominees and selects their own district winner. There are seven winners in total, one from each district, with the county-wide winner announced at the annual award ceremony. The most recent winner, Shayden West from Ashfield, was recognised for his extensive work around men’s mental health in his community.

What difference do the 4Uth awards make?

The 4Uth winners have made significant contributions, such as setting up groups for care-experienced young people, advocating for children across the care system, and promoting recycling in their communities. They have also been seen as role models and inspirations for other young people.

The 4Uth awards winner for 2023 being presented his award by Councillor Tracy Taylor

The 2023 county-wide winner, Shayden used to be very shy – now he’s “bubbly, outgoing and supportive”, helping younger people at Quarrydale Young People Centre to “make themselves more positive and have a better outlook on life”, focusing on young men’s mental health.  He also runs a committee to make the centre better for everyone. He also volunteers at a local food bank, making a big difference in his community. Shayden’s experiences have inspired him to pursue a career in helping others, in youth justice or youth work.

What next?

Plans are underway for 4Uth awards 2024 – the Youth Service is currently in consultation with some of the young people involved last year about how we can continue to develop the process and the celebration event.

What is Youth Voice?

The Youth Justice Service has a ‘Child First’ approach which means that they put children and young people at the centre of everything they do and recognise the importance of young people’s voices. To understand their experiences and make effective improvements, they have formed a group called ‘Youth Voice’, made up of young people involved with the service from across the County. The group meets every six weeks to discuss various topics and share their experiences.

What topics have Youth Voice been involved with?

Recently, the group discussed the ‘journey of the child’ through the Youth Justice Service, particularly focusing on those involved with the service for the first time. They explored changes the service could make to enhance the initial support experience for young people.

What difference has Youth Voice made?

The feedback from Youth Voice has directly influenced how the service supports young people. Now, all children receive a copy of their plan, clear explanations about their orders, and a completion letter when their support ends. This letter acknowledges their achievements and the completion of their order. New policies and procedures ensure a consistent experience for all young people. Additionally, Youth Voice members have developed new friendships and grown more confident.

What next?

The Youth Justice Service will continue to support young people in voicing their experiences to help improve other services within the Youth Justice system, such as the Nottinghamshire Police. Regular meetings with children and young people will continue, and their views will be shared at Youth Justice Board meetings.


Introducing Janie and her Pathway Plan

Janie* is 16 years old and recently co-produced an image-based pathway plan with her social worker, Clare. A pathway plan is a document that prepares a young person for leaving care to ensure they get the right support to confidently live independently. Janie moved to a home with foster carers when she was five years old. Janie had experienced significant trauma and, more recently, bereavement. She has significant emotional and mental health needs, including anxiety and depression with features of post-traumatic stress disorder. Janie currently lives in a specialist home to make sure she gets the mental health support she needs.

How did Janie create her Pathway Plan?

Understanding the need for a creative, positive, and strengths-based approach to engage Janie meaningfully, Clare chose to work with Janie to create her own version of the plan, so she could better understand the standard text version that had to be completed. They created a Microsoft PowerPoint version that featured photographs and illustrations and linked with her placement plan. This process allowed them to review Janie’s achievements, such as completing Functional Skills level 1 in science and English and reducing her risk level at home. Janie was able to identify her own goals, including living independently and going for a horse ride every week, and they developed a plan to achieve these goals.

What difference has this made?

The co-productive and strengths-based approach to creating her Pathway Plan has had a significant impact on Janie’s self-esteem. She feels included, important, and in control of her life. She knows that the people in her support network believe in her capabilities and see her progress. Janie is very proud of her version of her Pathway Plan. She has printed it out and put it up in her room, and she always carries another copy. This has helped her to remember her plan better and she refers to it during review meetings.

What’s next?

Janie and Clare will continue to update Janie’s image-based Pathway Plan regularly. Every time she makes progress on her goals or when anything else changes, they will update the illustrations and photographs to reflect this. This ongoing process will ensure that Janie’s Pathway Plan remains a living document that accurately reflects her current situation and future aspirations.

Clare, and Janie’s Independent Reviewing Officer Zoe, will also share the learning about how helpful it was to create the pathway plan in this way with their teams to extend the reach of the positive impact to other children and young people.

*Name changed. 

Introducing Leon and his Looked After Child Review

Leon*, a 14 year old with special educational needs, has been in foster care since he was nine. He has lived with several foster families but now enjoys stability with his current carers. His siblings live with other families or have been adopted. Leon’s Independent Review Officer, Kate, describes him as shy and often frustrated due to difficulty expressing his feelings and desires.

How has Leon participated in his review?

Kate, who became Leon’s Independent Review Officer in October 2022, has been instrumental in helping Leon participate more meaningfully in his Looked After Child Review. She explained the purpose of the review and her role, leading to Leon’s understanding of the process. Although Leon initially chose not to attend the reviews, Kate visited him at home before each meeting to advocate for him and share his wishes with the support network.

Over time, Leon built a strong relationship with Kate and began to trust her. During one of their pre-meeting sessions, Leon decided to attend part of his review meeting. He prepared by writing down his thoughts and was reassured by Kate that she would share his views if he chose not to attend.

At the review meeting, Leon expressed his strong desire to attend a mainstream school instead of a specialist one. His carers, Kate, the Virtual School, and the schools worked together to find a solution that would meet Leon’s educational needs and ambitions.

What difference has this made to Leon?

Leon’s active participation in his review meeting has led to a clearer understanding of his needs among his support network. He now attends a mainstream school with a dedicated tutor to help him achieve his educational goals. Leon’s trust in his support network has grown, and he feels more confident in expressing his views. His carers and school have improved their communication to better meet his needs.

What’s next?

Leon expressed gratitude to everyone at the review meeting for their support. His progress in expressing his thoughts and feelings has been recognised and appreciated by Kate and others who have worked with him for years. Kate will continue to prepare Leon for future review meetings, which he is likely to attend now that he knows what to expect. His support network will continue to work with him to plan for his future.

Kate will also share the learning and practice from working with Leon with her team of Independent Review Officers to extend the reach of the positive impact to other children and young people in care.

*Name changed. 

Our Nottinghamshire Approach to Participation Annual Report 2023-2024 [pdf]provides a more detailed overview of the participation activity taking place with children, young people, parents and carers across Nottinghamshire, the positive impact it has had this year, and our aspirations for the future. 

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