Children in care in the North East get Passport to Parliament

November 7, 2013

Houses of ParliamentOver 20 children and young people in children’s homes across the North East met MPs, local councillors and the Children’s Rights Director for England on Friday (1 November) to talk about children’s residential care.

Passport to Parliament, which took place in Newcastle City Library, is an annual event in the North East run by The Who Cares? Trust, a national charity which supports and campaigns for children in care and care leavers.

The event gave children and young people in care from all over the North East the chance to debate whether there is enough support when young people move into children’s homes, the importance of good relationships with the staff who work in them, and the support they need when leaving.

Children and young people from Bradford, Calderdale, Darlington, Derbyshire, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Northumberland, North Tyneside, Sunderland, and York attended the event.

The day included group workshops, sessions on politics, and a panel debate which gave young people the chance to put their views and experiences directly to Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, Emma Lewell-Buck, MP for South Shields, Dr Roger Morgan, Children’s Rights Director for England, Ofsted Inspector Ali Mekki and Jonathan Stanley, Principal Partner at the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care.

Natasha Finlayson, Chief Executive of The Who Cares? Trust, chaired the panel. She said: “Passport to Parliament is our flagship project to engage young people from all over the country in national political issues, and empower them to campaign for the improvements to the care system they want to see.”

Emma Lewell-Buck MP said: “Politicians need to listen to all of their constituents not just those who are eligible to vote, that is why it was a real pleasure to spend time with the very wise and inspirational children at the Who Cares? Trust’s Passport to Parliament Event.

“It was clear from some of the discussions that there is at times a disconnect between the legislation and what happens in practice to looked after children.  As a result, children often feel marginalised and not listened to.

“Hearing these children’s stories first hand is what has – and will continue to – have the most powerful impact on policy makers and legislators and I wish all of the children I met, and the Who Cares? Trust, continued success in ensuring better rights for our looked after children.”

Daniel is 16 and has been in care for 12 years.  He said: “Passport to Parliament gives young people in care a chance to get their views across to the people who matter.

“It’s fantastic to know that I can contribute and campaign for the changes to the care system that count – the changes that children and young people want to see.”

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