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Published 14 September 2018

Children in care will have more say in key decisions that affect their lives thanks to the formation of a Champions Board and the appointment of three care experienced young people.

Children in care will have more say in key decisions that affect their lives thanks to the formation of a Champions Board and the appointment of three care experienced young people.

The young people, who have come through the care system, will sit on the Champions Board and provide a key link for young people in care.  The young people will also draw on their own experiences of being in care to help reshape the future care system.

The three Marileigh Barnes, Lynzy Hanvidge and James Sutherland have committed to making positive changes for young people in care by offering support, acting on feedback and improving experiences.

Marileigh Barnes, 23, said: “I will help to build and maintain strong, meaningful and lasting relationships with all of our care experienced young people and our Corporate Parents.  The Champions Board will give young people in care a unique opportunity to have a voice, be empowered and be part of, and involved in, their own journey. Together, we can work to redesign services based on the priorities highlighted by our young people to provide a more positive and effective care system and remove barriers.” 

Lynzy, 24, added: “I will be the advocate for those children and young people that are looked after at home and who are in Kinship Care.  I want to ensure young people engage in meaningful relationships with their Corporate Parents, and that all care experienced young people know who their Corporate Parents are, and what kind of support they can offer.  By working together we can make care in West Dunbartonshire the best, and by listening to experiences we can ensure that everyone who enters our care system receives the love, support and the same opportunities as all of their peers.”

James, 22, said: “I will be working with our young people in the three children’s houses. My hopes for the future would be that West Dunbartonshire becomes the best Champions Board in Scotland. I really feel with 100% commitment from our Corporate Parents and Champions Board staff, we really can make positive changes to the lives of our care-experienced young people.”

The committed group has already seen progress with discounted leisure passes given to all care-experienced young people, thanks to their Corporate Parents within West Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust. 

Allan MacLeod, Chair of West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The formation of the Champions Board and the appointment of the three lead young people is an important milestone.  They are committed to dealing directly with staff and elected members to highlight the challenges that being in care can bring and how these can be overcome with the right support.  

Marie McNair, Vice Chair of West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The Champions Board will help ensure the voices of our children and young people are heard, their opinions respected, and we act on their ideas for change. As Corporate parents we all have a duty to ensuring every child in our care receives the same care, attention and personal development to make sure they strive from young children to mature adults and play an active part in society.”

The Champions Board in West Dunbartonshire has premises in Queen Mary Avenue, Clydebank and is fully supported by Y Sort It, Who Cares? Scotland, West College Scotland, Working 4U and West Dunbartonshire Community Planning Partnership.