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2 Reaching Out - Rochdale Children s Rights and Advocacy Page 2 At the heart of The Children s Society s commitment to supporting and empowering children and young people, there lies a firm focus upon stakeholder consultation, participation and partnership; empowering and enabling young people to have their say on the services and support they receive. The Children s Society Rochdale Children s Rights Service Hilltop Drive Kirkholt Rochdale OL11 2RL Have an internet connection? Why not click the i below for more information about Rochdale Children s Rights Service.

3 Reaching Out - Rochdale Children s Rights and Advocacy Page 3 As part of this ongoing process, Rochdale Children s Rights Service invited Looked after Children and Young People, from across the Borough to participate in a unique consultation. Stepping outside of their typical involvement with The Children s Society of sharing their views about the childcare, support and services they receive from Rochdale MBC and other local providers, to actually reflecting upon their experiences of working with The Children s Society.

4 Reaching Out - Rochdale Children s Rights and Advocacy Page 4

5 Reaching Out - Rochdale Children s Rights and Advocacy Page 5 Leading by example, the Rochdale Children s Rights Service commissioned independent graphic facilitation experts deadcatdreaming Ltd to creatively support the process. Graphic Facilitation is a fun yet powerful approach that enables participants to focus and make clear their thoughts and ideas as a series of visual representations. As such, the workshop saw a diverse group of young people, from a broad age range and who had been involved in the service in varying ways, come together to work collaboratively in transforming what was important to them, into their own visual metaphors. Starting with a blank canvas, the group literally painted their combined views; a lasting record that helps everyone involved SEE that they have been HEARD. What follows is a brief summary of the images and the meanings that the Children and Young People created.

6 Reaching Out - Rochdale Children s Rights and Advocacy Page 6 When asked to describe the impact of the Advocacy programme offered by The Children s Society and the Listen Up Children in Care Council which the team supports, the group quickly arrived at the image of a Helping Hand reaching out. Described as offering an almost life saving opportunity, the outstretched hand also embodies the idea of openness and honesty, and was talked about as a Handshake holding firm to the principles of trust and shared respect.

7 Reaching Out - Rochdale Children s Rights and Advocacy Page 7 The group placed an Oversized Ear in the palm of the reaching hand, offering the opportunity to really be heard. The Ear also symbolises the way in which the information and the knowledge shared is passed forward to those who need to know; passed forward so that it can make a real difference. The Hand also carries the concept of an approach that is about being physically present; or as the young people described it, telling it as it is in the first person ; making a meaningful connection that enables and lifts those in need up to a position where they can be heard, understood and valued.

8 Reaching Out - Rochdale Children s Rights and Advocacy Page 8 The Rainbow Bridge was seen as a way for often overlooked and marginalised young people to share what is going on for them, across the broad spectrum of their lives. The colours of the rainbow representing different thoughts and emotions that paint a much more comprehensive picture of a young person and their experience than would otherwise be possible with more formal approaches. The flow of these colourful emotions was important to the group, and it was the way in which the Rochdale Children s Society team nurtured and enabled rapport and connection, whether it was within the Listen Up group or through their role as Advocates or their involvement of Independent Visitors that really shone through. For the children and young people, the transformational power that they associated with this personalised Rainbow Bridge, lay in the way that it blended the two-way exchange of information; not only giving them chance to have a say on improving their experience of care, but also helping them to better understand the care system that they found themselves in, their rights and opportunities. This openness and uplifting approach placed a Pot of Gold at both ends of the rainbow, enriching everyone in the process.

9 Reaching Out - Rochdale Children s Rights and Advocacy Page 9 Don t Judge... The image of the Closed Book reinforces for the young people how hard is can be to open up and share their experiences with others. For the group, the Key to the Emotional Padlock is the trust that is created and how important it is that The Children s Society is outside of the care system. Without this ability to unlock what is really going on, the group felt that other professionals and services would simply judge the book by its cover, categorising children and young people instead of finding out what is inside what the real story is.

10 Reaching Out - Rochdale Children s Rights and Advocacy Page 10 Tailor The participating children and young people settled simply upon the word change as the outcome that they associated with the work that The Children s Society team support. This led to the unusual visual metaphor of Clothing to represent personalised change that s the best fit for each person. The contrast of the summer and winter items represented the appropriateness of the change; better equipping the young people to cope with and feel more comfortable with the care environment that they find themselves in. Made

11 Reaching Out - Rochdale Children s Rights and Advocacy Page 11 The group went on to describe why the work that The Children s Society does is so important; without the support they offered, the children and young people voiced real concerns for both themselves and other young people in care. These fears were discussed in a range of ways, merging metaphors to create the Terrifying Fire Monster. This devastating beast represents how, if left unabated, young people s suffering could so easily rage out of control. Without a constructive outlet, feelings of frustration and disappointment would only add fuel to the incendiary feelings; leading to other dangers and risks, as individuals try to find other ways of coping. rs were added to this image, symbolising the emotional turmoil that so many children and young people in care endure.

12 Reaching Out - Rochdale Children s Rights and Advocacy Page 12 Tears were added to this image, symbolising the emotional turmoil that so many children and young people in care endure. However, through the work that The Children s Society does, these Tears were brought together, giving them a positive outlet. Represented by the Firefighting Hosepipe, the Listen Up group and the Advocates collectively unite anguish and extinguish the dangers, turning tears of upset and anger into tears of joy. The group reinforced the message that not tackling the raging flames early on would only make the damage much more severe in the long run; devastating the young people s lives and leaving lasting scars that would undoubtedly carry into adulthood.

13 Reaching Out - Rochdale Children s Rights and Advocacy Page 13 The Bigger Picture It is not just what The Children s Society team provide by way of a platform for young people to voice their concerns, but more importantly, it is the way in which they do it. The Rainbow Pencil draws upon young people s experiences and emotions in creative ways, channelling innermost thoughts and ideas, enabling others to really see the bigger picture affecting children and young people in care in Rochdale. Erasing negative feeling and worries, the colourful pencil embodies a range of techniques from arts and crafts to music, which allow participants to share their perspective; illustrating their viewpoint in a fun and enjoyable way, whilst also allowing the young people to see the impact they are having.

14 Reaching Out - Rochdale Children s Rights and Advocacy Page 14 On The Up The final image of this report illustrates the young person led approach that is so important to the children and young people, especially within the Listen Up group. This peer-led approach recognises the importance of understanding and being part of the same journey. The group felt that it is the ability to match different levels of experience, whether it is age, background, gender or across ethnicity and beyond, that allows them to really connect with other children and young people, to work collaboratively and raise standards. It was also seen as important that people at different levels are able to support younger or less able members to understand where they were currently at and what the next stages may involve. Despite their difference, the group very much saw themselves as being part of a real team. This was echoed in the way in which they came together to creatively support one another to collaboratively develop their artwork; a vision of how they hope to progressively improve the levels of service that children and young people in care receive.

15 Where Believing is Seeing deadcatdreaming Graphic Facilitation unlocks the creativity present within individuals, organisations and communities; enabling them to participate in the building of a co-created vision and a tangible route map to shared achievements. DeadCatDreaming s unique methods take groups through the creative act of a mind moving from uncertainty and frustration to discovery and integration; where problems are solved, opportunities grasped, knowledge shared and new communities of practice created. Spontaneously created combinations of graphics and words capture key ideas, stimulating discussion, participation and focus. DCD s pioneering approach crosses disciplines and boundaries to deliver big-picture visuals. This unique service transforms the business development process into an incredibly memorable and meaningful experience. To discuss visualising your project, please contact: Graphic Facilitation can support all types of seminar, conference, development and learning experience, whether it is at a corporate business level, or working with customers and consultation groups. e: w: t: Focused Visioning Organisational Planning & Decision Making Corporate & Strategic Communication Project and Product Planning Team Building Quality Development Groups Creativity Workshops Conference Evaluations