Members received an update from two care experienced young people on their experiences over the past 18 months. They informed the Panel on how they had coped during the lockdown arising from restrictions due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. They shared their experiences of being supported by Harrow.
They were accompanied to the meeting by their Social Worker, Joy Bell.
Young person, “S”, who was 18 years old, spoke about her experiences moving into privately rented accommodation with her older sister. She shared that funding arrangements were authorised swiftly, which reduced her anxieties about moving out of foster care. S acknowledged that the move was challenging and exacerbated by testing positive for Covid-19, just as she was moving. However, she noted that there was nothing that Harrow could have done more to support with her move. S also spoke about her university studies and her early experiences of this.
Members inquired how much support she had received from Children’s Services during this time and if there were any gaps during this period.
S shared her experiences of being in care as a child and noted that the support of a Social Worker had become increasingly significant throughout adolescence and above 18 years old. S reflected that her previous Social Worker was burdened by too many cases and was unable to respond to her in a timely fashion, leading to gaps in support. S shared that her current Social Worker (Joy Bell) made her feel like the only person on her case load and shared how important it was to her that her Social Worker responded quickly and had a good relationship with her.
S was praised by the Panel for her confidence and exceptional achievements.
Young person “A”, who was 15 years old and in care spoke about her experiences of learning online during the lockdown. She acknowledged that this had caused a significant dip in her motivation. She noted that her attainment dropped significantly during this period. She confirmed that she had requested Mathematics, English and Science tuition from Virtual School to supplement this.
It was further advised by the Assistant Headteacher of the Harrow Virtual School that a GCSE tutor for Mathematics had just been sourced earlier in the week. Moreover, two GCSE tutors for English and Science were in the process of being obtained to work with A.
A was asked by the panel about her experiences obtaining a laptop from the Council and confirmed that it had been a speedy process. A shared that it was difficult to adjust to Microsoft Teams and online learning platforms, but she now felt confident with this.
A also shared that she felt that it was important for Social Workers to be on an even level with their young people, being sociable outside of statutory settings and making time for them. A stated that her Social Worker, Joy Bell, supported her well and made time for her.
A was praised by the panel for her resilience during lockdown.
Members expressed their appreciation to the young people for sharing their experiences and wished them well in their future endeavours. They encouraged the young people to feedback their experiences, including the negative ones, so that it would lead to improvement.
RESOLVED: That the update be noted.