Curry and a chat with Voice4Us

On Monday night I have the great privilege to be invited to one of Voice4us Come Dine with Me events at the House in St. Austell. For those who do not know, Voice4Us helps to support:

  • The right of a looked after child to be heard and involved in decisions through 1:1 support and independent visitors;
  • Supporting the transition from Care to independent living, with follow on services providing skills, knowledge and access to 1:1 advice. Including access to supported lodgings, help getting a job and on the Job Training

The aim of the event was to ask me – as have others who have been invited – a series of questions on my role. I also had the change of asked the young people of their experiences of the care system and if they had any pressing concerns.


The discussions took place over a lovely curry dinner cooked by the young people. The young people involved in hosting me were really interested in how the Council spends its money, why is not more spent in the children service areas, better Relationship, Sexual Education, and transport.



Thank you to the young people who hosted me, and to Voice4Us who continue to fight for the Looked after Child to be heard.


Green fingered Children in Care help ‘Boot-up’ win a national gardening award

An inspirational project in Cornwall which has seen green fingered children in care transform an outdated outdoor space into a no dig organic garden has won first place in a national gardening competition staged by ITV’s This Morning programme and the Sunday People newspaper.

The idea for the award-winning project, which saw traditional raised bed allotments transformed into the ‘no dig organic garden’ came from the young people following a review of garden activities.

The project is run by BootUp (which is led by Jane Atkinson) which is an independent Community Interest Company supported by Cornwall Council’s Virtual School for Children in Care. The  programme was awarded joint first place in the Inspiration Street category of the national Cultivation Street competition, receiving £500 worth of National Garden Vouchers for its members.

This project which was set up six years ago, offers young people aged 11 to 14 from mainstream schools, Acorn Academies and Special Schools across Cornwall the opportunity to take part in hands-on gardening, horticultural and construction projects to help build their skills and confidence.

The transformation began with the young people scraping and reforming the allotments, and then mulching the mounds with manure and seaweed. While they waited for the spring to arrive so they could plant seeds they landscaped the outer area and created a wild flower garden, surrounded by saplings donated by the woodland trust, to provide shade and a location for wildlife. A bug-house was also created using junk gathered on site and pallets.

Once the beginning of the Spring term arrived the youngsters planted a range of seeds donated by the local Wilkinson’s store, including beans, cabbages, leeks, onions, carrots, beetroot, sunflowers, Calendula, chamomile, salads, mint and chard.  Then followed months of work nurturing and watering the seeds, pricking them out and potting them on, putting them out under cloches to acclimatise, before planting them out into the garden.  The young gardeners also erected a fence to help prevent rabbits from eating their crops and used hazel and willow weaving to create removable gates.

The young people involved in this project should be very proud of the work and effort they all put into this project to turn it from an unused and unloved area to this wonderful organic garden. This hard work has been recognised by jointly winning the national Cultivation Street competition. A fantastic accolade for all who took part.

Celebrating the success of our Children in Care

On Tuesday night, the Children In Care Education Support Service celebrated the success of our Children in Care for the 2013-2014 academic year . The celebration event was kindly hosted by the two universities at Tremough Campus, Penryn with the campus’ Student Ambassadors helping the event run smoothly. The event had a pirate theme and everyone was encouraged to dress up as pirates. Like last year, and before the presentations took place, the excellent Swamp Circus entertained everyone with sea-shanties, tricks and stunts.

In total, 333 children were awarded certificates.  Although not all the children could attended they will still receive their certificates in the post. The age range for the certificates is year 1 to year 13. The certificates are awarded for any achievement: good school attendance, good progress in learning, attitudes to learning and each other, resilience in trying times. Being brave and trying new things, outdoor pursuits, creative arts etc.

I had the honour to present the certificates to the children, along with Tim (the virtual head teacher of the school) who read out the reasons for the award. I was very proud of the achievement of all the children. As were all who gathered to celebrate their success. Standing on the stage, you can see many of the audience reach for something to wipe their eyes with as Tim read out the achievements of the children and young people.

It was also great to see so many people connected with Children in Care attend the event. This included social workers, the voluntary sector, the Chair and Vice-chair of the Children’s PAC, the Head of Learning and Achievement, the Head of Children’s Social Care who all got into the spirit of the event by dressing as pirates! My sincere thanks go to the staff in the Children in Care Education Support Service who make this celebration such a special event. Furthermore, they make pretty good pirates too!

Swamp Circus entertain the crowd

Swamp Circus entertain the crowd


A motley crew of pirates


Lead Member for Pirates??