Care-Experience as a Force for Good

A piece by pro-voice activist Aspen Baker opens with the line: “Great social movements often have one thing in common: they are created by people with the courage to talk openly about their lives and experiences.” People who have experience should be acknowledged as experts on the issue.

Using feedback to help shape design and delivery is not a novel idea. As consumers of products and users of services, we’ve all been giving customer feedback and rating our experiences on the scale of 1 to 5 for decades. So, when it comes to asking for feedback from service users, why is the care sector lagging so far behind others?

In her article, Baker points out that one major barrier is stigma – many people shy away from telling stigmatised stories and many more from listening to them.

The stigma of having been in care is a factor here.

Throughout the UK, policymakers are beginning to listen to and acknowledge the insight provided by care-experienced feedback.

Regional Foster Placements published a Panel Member Guide stating that their panels would contain “an independent person with direct experience of foster care”. I served on a couple of Independent Fostering Panels. It’s great to see that including care leavers is finally being recognised as good practice.

While it’s an exciting time to be working in this sector and witnessing the impact that people’s first-hand experiences are having on policy and procedure, I can’t help but wonder why something so simple and important is taking so long to become standard practice?

An earlier version of this article was originally published by Children and Young People Now in 2015.

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