By Lucy Croxton, Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns Manager for the Together Trust
1 June 2022
Earlier this week, the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care was published. Since the Review commenced in March 2021, we have campaigned to ensure that the views of the people we support are represented in roundtable discussions and meetings with the review team, amplified through our involvement with the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers, and heard within our response to the Case for Change.
This article will explore which of our reccomendations were realised in the final report and share our Campaigns Managers’ early reflections on the Review.
‘Ensure that where possible, families are supported to care for children. Children’s social care should support them to do so and ensure that Family Help definitions extended beyond hubs, support, and children’s social care professionals’
The Review is clear that the children’s social care system must compliment and strengthen the families and communities that children grow up in. It recommends that one new category, ‘Family Help,’ is created, and existing early help and child in need services are integrated within it.
Families needing support would get it from teams made up of professionals such as family support workers, domestic abuse workers and mental health practitioners, who would work alongside social workers. Family Help Teams would be based in community settings, including schools and family hubs, with their services tailored to local needs and feedback from service users. This would stop the need for persistent signposting and improve accountability for service delivery.
The Review recommends that a ‘temporary injection of £2 billion is needed over the next five years’ to target about half a million children who require extra support.’
We welcome the Reviews’ focus on making support available to keep families together where possible but are concerned that funding would be conditional on meeting the goals of the ‘National Children’s Social Care Framework, and delivering on a range of outcomes, objectives, and indicators of success’.
Across England, Councils are already facing an immediate £3bn black hole in their child services budget. We do not believe that the measures suggested to mitigate the number of children entering care are sufficient (including instigating a national foster care recruitment campaign, modernising adoption, improving the rights of extended family to become kinship carers) without Councils’ accessing immediate funds upwards of £3bn to stabilise their services before any ‘transformational’ changes are brought into force.
‘Recognise how austerity and underfunding of community-based services had led to high levels of child poverty and reliance on acute services’
The Review clearly identifies poverty as a leading cause of children entering the care system, citing recent research which shows that deprivation is a contributory causal factor in child abuse and neglect.
It suggests that the Family Help scheme will help minimise poverty, by including specific help for families around income maximisation, building in routine benefits checks, money and debt advice and advocacy for all families, introducing devolved budgets to social workers to provide direct support to families and linking families to other sources of assistance e.g. advice about ‘insulation, heating, loans, housing rights, charities, food banks […]’.
However, while the Review acknowledges that ‘many services are facing pressure,’ and stated that welfare services are often inaccessible, it did not consider the role that austerity has played in worsening outcomes for children in care.
‘Invest in training professionals outside of children’s services to understand the impact of trauma, attachment, and adverse childhood experiences’
The Review has a strong emphasis on training children’s services professionals to work with children in care, and recommends that the Government focuses on training the following groups of staff:
While we welcome the focus on training, we are concerned that there is no detail provided within the Review about how much training these cohorts would cost, or the level of investment that the Government should provide. Without this level of detail, we feel that it is unlikely the recommendation will come into fruition.
It is vital that professionals are kept fully updated on any changes introduced to the children’s social care system. This will prevent further losses to the workforce and increased instability for children in care.
We welcome the extension of corporate parenting responsibilities to all public bodies for children in care but would reiterate that those bodies will need to be trained fully on what it means to be a corporate parent, including their obligations and responsibilities, so that every child receives the quality of care that are entitled to, and so that the role of a corporate parent is not weakened.
‘Ensure departments across Government have the shared resource and accountability to help families thrive’
One of the recommendations of the Review is for Government to update the funding formula for children’s services and take greater care to ensure that changes in Government policy which impact the cost of delivering children’s social care are accompanied by additional resources.
This would go some way at addressing the children’s services funding blackhole, but would not, in of itself, create the level of resource needed to ensure that services function well. We would welcome reform which leads to a greater level of transparency in how Ofsted inspections are made, with child-focused practice being embedded into inspections.
‘Ensure that short breaks, therapeutic support and community outreach services for children and families experiencing potential family breakdowns are available’
Some provision has been recommended by the Review to support children and families experiencing family breakdowns. The Family Help model will be aimed at the cohort of families ‘who receive targeted early help’ but those not eligible for Family Help should have universal support available through family hubs, health visiting, school nurses, and other forms of support such as ‘the Mental Health Support Teams’ within schools.
However, the Review does not state how much Government investment would be needed to make community services universal, nor recognise that we are currently a long way from this. We would like to see an eligibility criterion for Family Help that is clear, transparent and has been consulted upon with stakeholders, including those most likely to access services, such as victims of domestic violence, those seeking support for addiction etc.
Further to this, the report makes no recommendations about ensuring that short breaks and therapeutic support are available to families, except for reference to increased support for foster carers. We feel this is a missed opportunity and would like to see it included within the Family Help model.
‘Recognise how regulatory constraints stigmatise children in care, for example when they turn 18, they are no longer able to remain in the children’s home that may feel like home, and equalise the entitlements of children living in residential care with children living in foster care, giving them the option to ‘stay close’ until 25’
The Review points to positive evaluations from both the ‘Staying Put’ scheme (allowing children in foster care to continue to live with their foster carers until age 21) and the ‘Staying Close’ trial (allowing children in residential homes to continue to live there until age 21). One recommendation is for the Staying Put and Staying Close schemes to be a legal entitlement and extended to age 23 with an ‘opt-out’, rather than ‘opt-in’ expectation. If Government implemented this recommendation, they would be moving to a more equitable care system for children living in foster care and residential homes. However, we believe that this entitlement should be extended to 25, in recognition that the average young person moves out of their home for the first time aged 25.
‘Recognise that the majority of children living in unregulated (or semi-independent) accommodation are not placed there because of their best interests but because of financial interests. End the use of unregulated placements’
The Review acknowledges some of the persistent issues for young people living in unregulated accommodation, and states that the Government’s decision to ‘regulate’ is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough – ‘every child in care should live in a home where they receive care.’ However, the Review does not recommend an outright ban on unregulated provision for all children and young people up to the age of 18. Instead, it recommends that new Care Standards should be introduced which ‘are flexible enough to enable the best of this type of accommodation, to provide regulated care in a way that offers a choice to teenagers who may do well in these homes.’ We echo the views of Children England, that any new Care Standards must not weaken the quality of care that all children are entitled to and must clearly state the principle that every child is entitled to care where they live.
‘Recognise that good quality care needs to have the young person at the center with agencies and professionals working to uphold their rights, meet their needs and champion their ambitions’
The Review recognises the right of children to have a family life, and the need for children to have their views and opinions heard throughout their time in care. We are pleased that the Review has recommended that every child has access to ‘opt-out’ advocacy support. Advocates help children understand their rights, make informed decisions about their life, and speak up on behalf of their interests. However, we remain concerned about the recommendation to remove the role of Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) and Regulation 44 visitors and integrate it within the role of an advocate. This could effectively mean that children who opt-out of advocacy have no independent scrutiny or oversight of their care, and limited means to raise safeguarding concerns outside of their social worker. Changes made to improve the voice of the child over the last 30 years have been hard won and oftentimes introduced following the death or serious injury of a child in care. We must not regress these rights, especially at a time of huge transformational change where children’s voices risk being lost.
‘Ensure that children are part of their own communities unless it is not safe for them and take a place-based approach and address uncertainty around local authority funding, fluctuating levels of demand which leads to short term planning and a lack of suitable placements’
The Review clearly recognises some of the high-level issues in children’s social care. For the purposes of the report, these were:
The Review’s solution for solving these problems is the creation of ‘Regional Care Co-operatives’, which will consolidate functions currently performed by individual local authorities. They would have a number of duties, including:
RCC’s will be inspected by Ofsted and should initially be funded by the central Government, with local authorities eventually spending their existing children’s services budgets through them.
We have concerns that the creation of RCC’s will result in more children being moved out of their communities, as RCC’s will operate over a larger geographical area than local authorities. At the moment, over 40% of children in care live ‘out of area’, a percentage that increases year on year. The Review makes no recommendations about how this trend can be reversed.
‘Recommend that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is fully implemented in England, as the most comprehensive declaration of children’s rights currently in existence’
Sadly, the Review makes no reference to the United Nation Convention (UNCRC) on the Rights of the Child within their report, despite referencing the fact a ‘child’ is under the age of 18 in accordance with the UNCRC. We feel that this is a missed opportunity to provide children in care and care leavers with the most comprehensive set of rights available.
Article 12 of the UNCRC states that “every child has the right to express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously. This right applies at all times, for example during immigration proceedings, housing decisions or the child’s day to day home life.”
We are pleased to see that the Review recommended that care experience should become a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, something which we have supported people with care experience to campaign on, including Jakeb, who sadly passed away last year. However, we feel that had the Review committed to the UNCRC, the rights of care experienced people would be further amplified in law.
‘Invest in a national campaign to improve the public’s understanding of children’s social care and why some children are in care’
There was no recommendation made in the Review related to a national campaign which would improve the public’s understanding of children’s social care. This is a missed opportunity, as the Review focuses on building a sense of community and lifelong links around children in care, whether that be ‘teachers, friends’ parents or mentors.’ Yet we know that sometimes care experienced people face stigma from their own communities. An example of this occurs when residents organise to oppose the building of a residential children’s home on their street. A national campaign highlighting these experiences would contribute to creating the right environment for children to make lifelong links.
‘Recognise that good residential care practice supports families, and that residential care can be a positive first step in the care system rather than a last resort i.e. ‘step up, step down’ models’
The Review referenced models of shared care, where family networks are supported to help their relatives before children enter care. This involves ‘extended family, foster carers or residential children’s homes providing extra help and care.’ However, there were no specific recommendation about residential children’s homes being used to help children ‘step down’ into their families if it was safe to do so.
Further to this, there was reoccurring narrative that residential care is often used inappropriately and that there were many children in the care system which would benefit from being placed in foster care or for adoption instead. This was inconsistent with evidence we submitted about how high-quality residential homes could be a positive experience for many children in care.
‘Ensure that the residential care workforce is strengthened and supported, beyond just social workers. Enhance the profile and standing of those roles to support the recruitment and retention of a suitable workforce’
Much of the Review’s focus on the children’s social care workforce is on social workers and reimagining their role. The report cited evidence which showed that only one third of social workers time is spent working directly with families.
The solutions mentioned were to improve technology and systems, establish feedback loops to challenge unnecessary rules and bureaucracy and challenge the culture that pulls social workers further from families, as well as developing expertise through an ‘Early Career Framework’ which the Review felt would incentivise people to become social workers. Alongside social workers, the only other focus was on setting standards and regulating children’s residential home managers.
While the Review referenced the unacceptable high turnover and vacancy rates for staff working in children’s residential care, no recommendation was made about how to incentivise and retain this vital workforce, among others. Solving this problem would undoubtedly improve the consistency of children’s care across England.
Within the Care Review, there are recommendations which do have the power to make transformative change for children in care. These include the right to opt-out independent advocacy, strengthened rights and entitlements for kinship carers, and the blueprint of the Family Help scheme, which if rolled out properly has the power to make a significant contribution to keeping families together where it is safe to do so.
However, there are also many missed opportunities. The Review’s stance on unregulated provision remains unclear. There is no evidenced reason why the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) role should be integrated with that of an advocate, especially where their functions are different, and where each role acts as an additional safeguard to children in care.
The Review also had a once in a generation opportunity to recommend that the Government fully implements the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). It is unclear why this legislation is missing from its recommendations, especially when the Review’s central aim was to improve the rights of care experienced people.
Last week, panellists with a range of personal and professional experiences, aspirations and hopes for the care system came together to debate what the future of care should look like for children and young people. The event was held in Coram’s sunny London office space, with around thirty attendees in-person, and over 300 virtual attendees tuning in through Zoom.
‘How does the care system operate now, and what should it look like in the future?’
The original question was posed by Coram’s Chief Executive, Carol Homden, and is one that many care-experienced people, charities and campaigners have grappled with over the last few decades.
It is also a central question for the Care Review, which will be recommending actions to the government to ‘transform the system’ for children and young people. As we wait to find out what that vision of the future looks like, our campaigns manager, Lucy Croxton, shares an overview of the key themes and ideas discussed on the day and offers her perspective on the future of care.
N.B: This article has been written at a later date based upon notes from the event. While we have attempted to capture each ‘future vision of care’ accurately, it is not possible to include everything said. If you were a panellist and would like to further clarify your position, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Akinsanya’s vision of care
Many local authorities still fail to meet their obligations under the Children Act 1989 and cannot be trusted to deliver high-quality care to children. Unequal funding structures leave some of the richest areas in the country with large budgets to provide care, while in other areas budgets are constrained. The areas with a smaller budget are often those with greater levels of poverty, one of the main drivers for children entering the care system. This leads to a postcode lottery of support. Care experience should be a protected characteristic to help give everybody an equal place at the decision-making table. David pointed to the integrated care system model as a possible solution for the administration of care locally.
Keeley Stephenson’s vision of care
There is a complete lack of accountability in the care system. Failures and missteps are always the fault of someone else, and there are consistent problems with carers not being trauma-informed, personal advisers and social workers frequently moving on, and professionals not being able to juggle their caseloads. For Keeley, the future has to start with us all taking ownership of our responsibilities to children, and with care experienced people being at the heart of decision-making.
Andy Elvin’s vision of care
Local authorities are not doing a good job of providing care to children. Too often their processes are overly bureaucratic and take away from the dynamic of a family home, where parents would likely make decisions about the child with them around the kitchen table. Children in certain types of care arrangements continue to be disproportionately affected by a ‘silo’ system. For Andy, the solution lies in a national care system which is co-designed and co-produced with care experienced people. He is also in favour of a protected characteristic.
Carolyne Willow’s vision of care
Children’s rights should be at the heart of the care system. At the moment, rights and safeguards are created in a reactionary way when there is a new national scandal. The CareExp Conference recommendations showed that children want to feel loved and cared for, and every child should feel that they mean the world to those looking after them. Carolyne made several suggestions for what can be improved, including:
Alison Alexander’s vision of care
Children in care are still concerned with the same issues as they always have been, their family connections, mental health, placement moves and lack of opportunity. If anything demonstrates that the current service delivery model is broken, it is that the concerns of children have not really changed. Children that manage to succeed, do so because of their own resilience, not because of the system. The system is not joined up enough to adequately deal with the complex needs of children. For Alison, what is needed is a clear long-term plan, which is properly invested in.
Kathy Evan’s vision of care
What we see in children’s social care is ‘events’, but what underlies these events are trends, structure, and mental models. We are pulled into reacting to what has just happened, rather than questioning the underlying beliefs and values that sustain the system (in line with the Systems Thinking Iceberg). What is needed in children’s social care is a departure away from the ‘New Public Management’ model which has been dominant since the seventies. This model refers to the use of private sector management methods to oversee public services. Care is not a product, and therefore no care market should exist. An example of market failure is the price of care placements rocketing, but what underlies that is the competition for scarce places which allows providers to charge so much. For Kathy, what is needed is a transition away from this model, to a sustainable one, with large scale public investment in children’s social care. Kathy proposes that the Care Bank model she has developed will provide the systemic reform needed to fix commissioning and financing.
As different as the panellists’ views may seem, there were a set of concerns underpinning almost all of the pitches. There was a feeling of urgency, that we must get this right as soon as we possibly can for all children in care now and in the future. On this point, David’s closing comment resonated with me. He said, ‘we must remember the children in care right now.’ The need for decision-makers to choose an evidence-informed way forward, rather than choosing the evidence needed to justify a policy approach, particularly when there are children’s lives at stake, is vital.
Decades of slow change may lead us to conclude that the children’s social care sector is missing innovation, and in need of new leadership, outcomes and frameworks which will improve efficiency. Alison highlighted that issues faced by children in care have not significantly changed over the last three decades, when she herself was in care. Yet as Keeley pointed out, there continues to be no real accountability in the system. Social workers continue to leave the profession in droves, because of low pay, high caseloads and increasing expectations. This contributes to instability in the lives of children and young people. Trying to mould professionals to be more efficient, without making the level of public investment needed to allow them to do their jobs properly, is the equivalent of putting a plaster over an already infected cut.
I agree with Kathy that a continuation of the same approach to children’s social care management is unsustainable and is resulting in an endless churn of new faces and new agendas, promising outcomes on a shoestring budget. “Children’s care must not be political football” (Kathy Evans). Yes, the cost of properly funding a system which allows professionals to realistically fulfil their responsibilities under the Children Act 1989 and meet the needs of every child in care will be “expensive”. But parliament legislated knowing that it would be expensive and saw the value of doing it nonetheless. While it is relatively easy to calculate the cost of care, and government and local authorities will be concerned with doing so in order to balance their budgets, the cost of providing poor or no care at all is harder to quantify. Does that mean that it is a favourable option? Not at all.
When there is a national scandal, new rights and safeguards are created. This may inch us closer to a system where children’s voices are heard, yet Carolyne is right that decision-makers must go further and incorporate the UNCRC. Such a change would put children’s rights at the bedrock of the system, and result in rights which are not only symbolic but could be used to challenge decisions in courts across England. Finally, Andy’s point that the system must be co-designed and co-produced is also an important one and was echoed by many of the other speakers. Whether the future system should be a national, localised, or a hybrid one remains hotly contested, but it is abundantly clear that more needs to be done across the children’s social care sector to seek out, listen to and act upon the voices of care experienced people.
We're delighted to announce that the Together Trust has retained the prestigious gold award by Investor in Customers (IIC) for our exceptional support of children, individuals and families.
It is the third time we have received the gold standard accreditation, which recognises outstanding service for the people we support and the agencies we work with.
Investor in Customers collected feedback from hundreds of participants to assess the quality of our work. Surveys were completed by the individuals and families who access our services, employees, and commissioners.
Feedback shared with Investor in Customers described the Together Trust as ‘Knowledgeable, caring, friendly staff with an excellent understanding of children with additional needs as individuals.’
Speaking on behalf of the Together Trust, Mark Lee, Chief Executive said: “We’re proud to receive the highest recognition once again from Investor in Customers. The people we support are at the heart of absolutely everything we do, and we’re delighted that this is reflected in the feedback from families, foster carers and commissioners.
I would like to thank our wonderful team of employees and volunteers who work tirelessly to deliver the highest standard of care. I’m also grateful to everyone who provided valuable feedback to Investor in Customers. Your views will help us to continue to improve our wide range of services across the North West.”
Tony Barritt, Managing Director, Investor in Customers Ltd said: “Delivering a great customer experience during the last couple of years has been a challenge for organisations in all sectors. For Together Trust to not only repeat their Gold Standard Investor in Customers accreditation but to actually increase their overall scores, is a remarkable achievement.
They have a diverse workforce working in a challenging environment but the feedback from all stakeholders, including parents, carers and local authorities, clearly shows that the Trust’s staff not only understand the need to ‘think customer’ but also show through their actions a clear commitment to always seeking to do the right thing at the right time. We are delighted to be able to recognise Together Trust’s achievements with our highest accolade.”
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this project by providing valuable feedback. We're always listening and looking at ways we can improve our services.
Member News: Together Trust's care-experienced delegation hands in Together Trust petition to 10 Downing Street
On February 1st, two representatives from the Together Trust met up with a delegation of care-experienced people, as well as campaigners from the #KeepCaringto18 group to deliver our petition to 10 Downing Street.
Signed by 10,785 people across the UK, the petition called for the government to provide 16- and 17-year-olds in care with a safe, loving home.
In the early afternoon, cheered on by supportive onlookers, including MPs Emma Lewell-Buck and Lilian Greenwood, the delegation delivered the petition. Footage of the hand in was captured here.
Earlier this week, publicity from a Guardian article (page 2), in which the Together Trust’s research was quoted, helped the campaign exceed the 10,500 threshold that the campaign had been aiming for.
One member of the delegation, Terry Galloway, told his story to an ITV reporter. He said, “children need care to 18. I have got personal experience of this, I was in and out of children’s home, and by the time I was sixteen I had been in over a hundred homes. These kids are vulnerable, they are looking for love.”
After hand in, the delegation unexpectedly encountered MPs Bill Estherton and Jeremy Corbyn, as well as the Children’s Commissioner for England, Rachel de Souza. The delegation took the opportunity to share with them their concerns and aspirations for children in care.
Next week, Article39 will be appearing in court to challenge the law which makes it possible for local authorities to place 16- and 17-year-olds in accommodation without care. Representatives from the Together Trust will be attending the hearing.
Lucy Croxton, Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns Manager, said “According to the Children’s Commissioner, more than a third of children who entered care in 2019 were teenagers, often with complex needs. The law as it stands means that some of those children are not entitled to care. We, like 10,700 others believe that they should be, and will continue to advocate for their rights through our KeepCaringto18 campaign.”
Thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign - we couldn't do this without your support.
By Ali Gunn, Communications and Campaigns Manager
In June, the Independent Children's Social Care Review published it's first report, the Case for Change. Together Trust has contributed to the Care Review in a number of ways:
We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Case for Change. Rather than answer every question posed we have given feedback where we have experience and knowledge as a charity working in children's social care. Read our full response.
The purpose of children’s social care
We believe the the Children’s Act 1989 is very clear on the purpose of children's social care but we call for the full implementation of the UNCRC in England to ensure children’s rights are respected and upheld.
We welcomed the Review’s acknowledgement of the power of strong community networks but believe there needs to be significant investment in a national campaign to challenge stigma.
The Case for Change does not go far enough to forensically investigate the impact of austerity cuts on children’s social care budgets or the chronic underfunding of community-based services. Departments across government must have the shared resource and collective accountability to help families to thrive.
Keeping families together
The Case for Change fails to recognise that good residential care practice supports families, rather than break them. Wrap around and holistic offers of short breaks, therapeutic support and community outreach services for children and families experiencing potential family breakdowns, neglect and family dysfunction would undoubtably help avoid unnecessary care episodes.
We want to see children in residential care have the same rights as children in foster care. We fully support the Every Child Leaving Care Matters campaign, and we would like to see staying close options extended to the age of 25.
The Case for Change has failed to consider the integration with adult social care. If it does not, there is a considerable risk that disabled children and their families will experience challenging transitions.
We are incredibly disappointed and disheartened by the Case for Change’s stance on unregulated accommodation. It fails to recognise the implications of formalising a two-tier care system.
Care that is good enough for all our children
We welcomed the Review’s recognition that children’s social care does not match up with family life in Britain today, this mirrors our own research.
Good quality care needs to have the young person at the centre with agencies and professionals working to uphold their rights, meet their needs and champion their ambitions.
The Review misses the mark on strengthening and supporting residential care support workers. We need to enhance the profile and standing of those roles to support the recruitment and retention of a sustainable workforce for our children.
Right homes in the right places
Children need to be part of their own communities unless it is not safe for them. Local authorities should have the resources to be responsive and take a place-based approach to end profit-making in children’s social care.
Read our full response
By Ali Gunn, Communications and Campaigns Manager
We, like Article 39, Become, the Care Leavers Association and many others are in disbelief that the clear evidence on the isolation and risk that young people face in unregulated accommodation is being ignored.
Only last week an FOI Article 39 found that between April and September 2020 four young people aged 16 and 17 died whilst living in unregulated accommodation. But still, the government insist that this type of accommodation is satisfactory.
The new standards that are being proposed will create a two-tier care system where 16- and 17-year-olds entering the system will be at risk of not receiving the care they deserved and are legally required to receive.
We ask all parents and carers to consider if they are happy for their children not to have any care when they turn 16. If not, join us and stand up for the young people this disastrous policy decision will affect.
We believe that every child in care should be guaranteed care up to the age of 18 but new government legislation will leave around 6000 children without care.
We've joined Article39, Become, Just For Kids Law, The Care Leavers Association and many other organisations, professionals and care experienced people to reject the two tier children’s residential care system this legislation will create.
Read more about the campaign
Vernon Building Society and Imagine Radio announced back in November that they had chosen to support the Together Trust for the second year running with their Christmas Toy Appeal.
There was an amazing response to the appeal last year, with hundreds of presents donated at Vernon Building Society branches in the run up to Christmas.
We were mindful that this year might not have the same response due to the pandemic however within 10 days we had exceeded expectations and raised over £1,600. Businesses supported the appeal donating the value of their secret Santa gifts, individuals donated after they heard the radio appeal and we were overwhelmed with the generosity of the local community.
Vernon Building Society pledged to contribute an additional £5 for every £5 or more donated but they decided to boost their contribution to an extra £10 for every donation of £5 or more, to match the generosity shown by the local community in recent weeks.
Together we raised an amazing £6,000 which meant we could provide over 300 children with gifts.
Vernon’s marketing and brand manager, Alex Deakin, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of residents and businesses across Stockport and Greater Manchester yet again this year, so we thought it only right that we should boost our own contribution.
“We’re thrilled to hit the £6,000 total to help make Christmas special for some very deserving families in what’s been such a tough year.”
Lily, a Fundraiser from Together Trust said “It was quite emotional to see how kind people were. We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who listened and donated. In what has been such a hard year for so many people this has really brought a smile to everyone’s faces and shown us that even in the hardest times there is still such a strong community spirit and unbelievable kindness”.
We would like to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who donated, shared our social media posts and spread the word about the appeal over the last few months. We truly couldn’t have done it without you all.
This year young people leaving care and families who have children with additional needs have been put under extra strain. Across the country, there has been a 107% rise in children receiving emergency food. With the additional impact of Covid and a second lockdown, we’re not sure what Christmas will look like for many of the people we support, but we want them to know that they are not alone.
"I was taken into care as a newborn baby because my mum had an abusive partner. I was put under special guardianship with family friends for a while. Then I lived with my mum again for seven years, until she passed away and I was taken into foster care. My transition into independence was really smooth thanks to the Together Trust. They helped me to get some furniture for my flat and things like a fridge, freezer and washing machine. I had a really close connection with everyone who works at the charity. After I left care they could have just turned their back on me, but they didn’t."
" I know they are still there for me now and that makes a massive difference."
*Anthony's name has been changed to protect his identity
We're raising money to fill hampers to distribute to families and young people who are living below the poverty line and there are lots of ways you can get involved:
Do you run a business and your company Christmas party been cancelled but you are looking to use the money for a good cause?
Is your community group looking for a local charity to support this Christmas?
Instead of buying Christmas cards this year would you consider donating the money for the cost of one hamper?
You can make a donation today.
Or get in touch with our friendly fundraising team if your community group or company would like to get involved with our appeal by emailing email@example.com
The Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership has asked for art to brighten the walls of the new NHS Nightingale Hospital North West, at Manchester’s G-Mex Centre. And we at the Together Trust are responding.
The children and young people in our schools and care settings, who in many cases have learning disabilities, complex needs, communications difficulties and autism, have been busy creating art in all shapes and sizes.
Mark Lee, Chief Executive at the Together Trust said: “Art plays an important part in everything we do at the Together Trust, whether that’s in our schools, our residential homes or in our services in the community. In many cases the people we support have the kind of complex needs that mean they’ve often struggled to cope in other settings.
“But at the Together Trust we use art to help our children and young people express themselves and I’m delighted to see them responding in this way to the call for art for the NHS Nightingale hospital in Manchester”.
The Together Trust has a long association with the arts, and using art as therapy as a means by which children and young people can express themselves. Edward Gosling, known to all as Teddy, was just 2 years old when he was admitted to our Bethesda home for disabled children in 1900.
Born without any arms he was taught by the home to use his toes to complete everyday tasks. Teddy showed such artistic talent that arrangements were made for him to train at the Manchester Municipal School of Art, where he soon flourished. As well as being a talented painter he also created a number of wood-carvings and several war memorials, and one of his pictures was admired and purchased by the Queen of Norway.
This year, as part of our 150th anniversary celebrations, we put on an exhibition at The Lowry Centre showcasing work created by children and young people supported by the charity, which celebrated the long history of the Together Trust and the work we do.
And now many of our young people are showing their support for carers, staff and patients at the new NHS Nightingale hospital in Manchester. We hope you enjoy their work!
Daniel Turner, Managing Director of Stockport business William Turner, came to our Cheadle site recently to present us with a cheque for £8,967.41 raised by the company and its employees during its one year charity partnership with the Together Trust.
The family run business, now in its third generation, has been supplying high quality handmade school and corporate wear through independent retailers for more than fifty years. The company’s products, including school accessories such as bags, are manufactured locally in its own factories in Nelson and Skipton.
Daniel said: “In 2019 we celebrated 50 years in business. Reaching half a century is a real milestone for any business, but at William Turner we’ve also passionate about supporting our local communities.
“Given the nature of our business we wanted to choose a local charity connected to education and as soon as one of our team mentioned the Together Trust I knew it was the one. We’ve all been so impressed with the work the charity does and the positive impact they have on the lives of so many local young people. It’s been a privilege to be involved in supporting that work.
“We hadn’t partnered with a charity before and our experience of the team at the Together Trust has been extremely positive. They attended our events, invited us to theirs and gave us fundraising ideas and lots of material to help increase awareness in the company.
“We’ll be keeping in touch with our friends at Together Trust and wish them continued success in all the good work they’re doing.”
Alicen Thorn, Corporate Fundraiser at the Together Trust, said: “Everyone at William Turner has been so lovely and so generous with their time, throughout the year long partnership.
“Because the company manufactures all its products here in the North West all its staff had a real interest in the work that we do for local children and families, especially in our schools.
“We support individuals with diverse and complex needs. To do this we need support from corporate partners like William Turner. Donations like theirs help provide specialist equipment, extra activities, additional support from specialist staff and support for families.
“We really do appreciate their generous donation and I’ll be keeping them updated on all the good that’s done with the money they’ve raised.”
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