Our Essex and Hereford offices recently celebrated their 4th and 2nd birthdays so we held a joint Birthday Party today!
Our foster carers, young people and staff teams travelled on coaches to Scout Adventures in Youlbury, Oxfordshire. Once there, we enjoyed a day of different activities.
In the morning we built a campfire and toasted marshmallows and played ball games. We also blew giant bubbles and completed a nature quiz. After that we enjoyed a BBQ lunch. In the afternoon we played Woggleopoloy, a team game suitable for all ages involving nature challenges in the woods.
The day closed with our Founders, Gary and Davina, thanking everyone for making the event a huge success. As everyone gathered round to enjoy the birthday cake, the young people burst into a spontaneous rendition of Happy Birthday!
Davina said afterwards that it was lovely to see the foster families and children from both offices meeting up and getting to know each other. She said the day really encompassed Young People at Heart’s family ethos.
Happy Birthday Young People at Heart!
Member News: Young People at Heart - We’re expanding and using this platform to introduce our new recruits.
Young People at Heart is a not-for-profit Independent Foster-Care Agency (IFA) that’s expanding! At Young People at Heart outcomes for young people are paramount for the organisation and everyone associated with it. Quite simply, everything the organisation does has the interests of young people at heart and that’s the way we want it to stay. On that basis the people who work with us have to have exactly the same ethos. Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our latest recruits Estelle Cashin, our Placements Officer.
My first experience of an IFA was in the late 1990’s when I got my first job at a small IFA local to where I lived. It had a real family feel to it and it was a great place to work. I worked as a Receptionist/Administrator before being lured back to my previous employer and then starting a family.
I had grown up in a family who fostered and was one of four myself. As a result I have some fantastic memories of all of us piling into the car and going to see my grandparents in Great Yarmouth, sometimes as many as seven children and our dog. I always admired my parents for fostering and the children and young people we looked after were very much a part of our family. I think having this experience as a child has helped me to grow as a person.
After having my second child I went back to the local IFA and worked a few hours a week populating their new database (mostly I went in on a Friday afternoon to entertain the troops whilst doing the odd bit of data input!) and looked on, longingly, while someone else fulfilled my dream job, Placements Officer. I continued to be a full time mum of two and went on to have two more children.
When my youngest was at school I had a conversation with a friend, who worked at the agency, who told me that a Training Administrator position was about to become available. I applied and got the job.
During my working life I have had a handful of bosses who’ve had a positive impact on me and, the way I work. Dale Cooper, my new boss, was one of these and I am thankful that, although no longer my boss, he is now my friend. It was during my time working with Dale, in the Training Administration role, that I had an opportunity to help, and cover for, Sarah the Placements Officer. I was in my element as I had finally got to be, albeit in an adhoc way, a Placements Officer. Over time the role grew and I was given the opportunity to be the full time Placements Officer. Seven years later I still love my job.
Not long after being given the role full time the agency we worked for was sold to an investment company, who went on to purchase a number of different fostering agencies. The area and number of agencies I covered grew and I had a team of seven to manage. Although incredibly proud of what I achieved while I was there (the number of children I had found fantastic carers for, carers who gave the young people placed the lives they deserved) I slowly started to feel that the role was becoming less about the children and the carers and more about how many children could be placed. I always really wanted to make a difference and I didn’t feel I was anymore. So I made one of the toughest decisions I have ever made, to leave the organisation (where I’d worked for years and where I had met some incredible people).
I reached out to Dave Bailey and Gary Cox at Young People at Heart because I had worked with them before and admired what Young People at Heart stood for. So here I am, working for a not for profit organisation where everyone’s opinion, and feelings, matter. A place where I feel listened to, valued and am encouraged to put the young people we work with at the heart of everything I do. I meet the children I place and spend time talking to the carers on the phone so I can match them better by understanding their needs (which makes the placement more sustainable). I’m doing what I love most and making a difference again! But I never forget that I couldn’t do this job without the foster carers and their families. They are the people who volunteer to care for the looked-after children and young people who need them. The people whose children have to share everything including the time they have with their parents. The people who are in extremely short supply because each and every year the number of referrals increases. If you’d like to foster with young people at heart then give me a call.
Project Linus delivered a lovely selection of quilts to our Essex office for our young people in foster care recently.
We had previously received quilts in our Hereford office where they have brought a great deal of comfort to our young people, so we are immensely grateful to the local Project Linus team for supporting us in Essex.
Davina Cox, co-founder of Young People at Heart, said that our foster carers in Hereford had told her how much the young people of all ages appreciated the hand-made quilts, so she was delighted that Ellie, one of our Social Work Assistants who supports our foster carers and young people in Essex, had contacted Project Linus and the quilts could now be delivered to our Essex foster children as well.
The photo shows Sarah, our local Admin Manager and Letesha, one of our Supervising Social Workers, both based in our Essex office, sorting through the wonderful selection of quilts
On Friday 28 December our Essex office held another of our popular ‘drop and shop’ events where we arrange an activity day for our young people, while our foster carers have some time to themselves.
We held this one at a scout hut next to a park and it was attended by 12 young people. Our 2 Alisons, Doug and Gary joined the young people in activities including craft, charades, board games and a sing along to the songs from the Greatest Showman. Outdoors we played ball games and enjoyed the swings and climbing frames.
As always, the young people made their own lunch as part of their life skills development. This time sandwiches from a selection of cold meat, cheese and jam, together with a selection of fruit and choice of drinks. Hot chocolate is always a favourite and one young person chose to make their sandwich out of crusts (entirely their choice – just for the record!)
We receive excellent feedback from our foster carers who enjoy the short break and from young people who enjoy the opportunity to meet and socialise with other young people in care.
The ‘Drop and Shop’ activities are run in addition to our family activity days and we plan to hold more ‘Drop and Shop’ events during 2019, at weekends during school term and weekdays in school holidays.
Young People at Heart will be opening an office in Yorkshire in May 2018!
Following the success of the Essex and Herefordshire offices, Young People at Heart have decided to open an office in Barnsley, Yorkshire. Sue Williams, an experienced and well respected Registered Manager in the region will lead the office, which is currently applying for its own Ofsted registration, and will initially support foster carers and young people in the wider Barnsley, Doncaster, Leeds and Sheffield areas.
Gary Cox, Founder of Young People at Heart, said the not-for-profit and family ethos of the organsiation had found favour with Local Authorities and foster carers in the areas where Young People Heart was established and it was now time to offer the organsiation’s services, and ethos of putting young people before profit, in the Yorkshire area. Gary said that with Sue’s reputation for providing an outstanding service, he was confident Young People at Heart would soon start to achieve great outcomes for young people in care in Yorkshire.
If you would like to be a foster carer with Young People at Heart, whether you are new to fostering or you are an existing foster carer with or without a young person in placement, please get in touch with us via the ‘contact us’ form on this website, or call us and we’ll happily to talk to you about joining the Young People at Heart family.
Member News - Young People at Heart are recruiting a social worker and Form F assessors in Herefordshire
Dave Bailey, Fostering Manager at our new Young People at Heart office in Hereford, has experienced an unprecedented amount of interest from foster carers wishing to transfer to Young People at Heart from a number of other fostering organisations in the region, as well as applications from people wishing to become foster carers.
Dave said the not-for-profit ethos of Young People at Heart, together with our ability to provide local support, training and activities for foster carers and young people, was a huge attraction and he looked forward to welcoming more enquiries from prospective Young People at Heart foster carers, whether they were new to fostering or experienced carers wanting to transfer to the organisation.
In order to support the huge level of interest in joining Young People at Heart in the Herefordshire region, Dave said the organisation was looking to bring forward the appointment of a supervising social worker to January 2018. He invited applications from suitably qualified individuals via the link below to our recruitment partner, TOP Recruitment:
Supervising Social Worker – Herefordshire
Dave also said he would like to appoint more Form F assessors to the Herefordshire Young People at Heart family and he again invited applications from suitable qualified candidates through the following link:
Form F assessors – Herefordshire and surrounding counties
Gary Cox, who founded Young People at Heart with his wife Davina, said they were both delighted with Dave’s appointment and the immediate impact he was having on the fostering provision in Herefordshire and surrounding counties. Gary said it was a testament to Dave’s practice that a number of foster carers from his previous for-profit, venture capital backed foster care employer had contacted Young People at Heart requesting to follow Dave but added that he was equally pleased they had received enquiries from foster carers for other organisations who wanted to be supported locally and that he was particularly excited that Dave was receiving enquiries from applicants new to fostering.
Young People at Heart recently approved another two foster carer households new to fostering, bringing the total number of foster care households to 12.
Founder and Chief Executive Gary Cox said he was delighted to welcome the new foster carers into the Young People at Heart family. Both were single carers who brought skills and experience to the organisation that would undoubtedly benefit young people placed with them.
Young People at Heart has another two families in assessment, both of whom had come to the UK from abroad and whose home languages are Spanish and Portugese respectively, adding to the diversity and skill set of the organsiation.
Gary added that Young People at Heart welcomed enquiries from new and existing foster carers from all backgrounds and encouraged anyone interested in fostering to make contact, either through the website application form, the enquiry line 07518 173083 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to Letesha-Kirton Adams, one of our independent Fostering Panel members, who has been announced as a finalist for a 2016 YBA (Young Black Achievers) Award.
Letesha is a care leaver and is now studying to be a social worker.
Gary Cox, Founder of Young People at Heart, said Letesha provides the Young People at Heart fostering panel with an invaluable insight into the life of a young person in care and her prepartation and contribution at Panel is always examplary. He added that the role of Panel in recommending foster carers for approval is a very important step in the process and that he was immensely grateful to Letesha for the time she continues to made available to help Young People at Heart make a difference to the lives of young people in care.
Gary also thanked the YBA Awards for recognising the contribution of all the finalists. He congratulated them all and wished them well in their chosen endeavours and for the awards evening on 26th November.
3 new foster carer families were recommended for approval as foster carers at the Young People at Heart fostering Panel held last night.
Founder of Young People at Heart, Gary Cox, said he was delighted the new foster carers had chosen to foster with the organisation and he was particularly pleased that one couple had specifically sought to foster with a not-for-profit fostering provider.
He wished them all the greatest of success in making a difference in the lives of young people in care and added that as all the foster carer families currently with Young People at Heart had placements, they would provide much needed availability for the unprecedented level of referrals being received.
Gary also said he was pleased that two of the new foster carer families each had 2 bedrooms available for fostering which gave them and the organisation the opportunity of keeping siblings together.
Young People at Heart are still looking to recruit more foster carers, so if you are interested in fostering, would like to transfer with your existing placement or would like to find out more about Young People at Heart’s not-for-profit ethos, please complete the enquiry form on our website.
At the request of one of our foster carer’s birth children, we held a ‘My Family Fosters’ training course for sons and daughters of foster carers recently.
The program was facilitated by Scott Winham whose Mum fostered when he was growing up, so he was able to bring real life experience to the program content.
The participants learned about their responsibilities as an integral part of the foster family team and were also introduced to foster care from the perspective of the young person in care.
Comments received afterwards were very positive, including, ‘I found it very interesting to hear other birth children’s points of view’ and ‘It gave me a second way of thinking and did help me understand’.
Thank you to everyone who gave up a Saturday to attend the training.
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