Professionals working with children in care get together for motivational conference

A motivational conference and networking event has been held especially for the carers, social workers and teachers of children involved with the care system.

Luke Rodgers bem presenting at changing the narrative conference.

The event, held by the Southend Virtual School, was called ‘Changing the Narrative’ and saw five inspiring speakers present to more than 120 people from across schools and social work in Southend-on-Sea.

The invite-only event on Thursday 14 October saw presentations from Olympic medal winner, Kriss Akabusi MBE, Andy Salmon the inventor of the spelling app Sir Linkalot, and Luke Rodgers BEM, who has worked with multiple organisations to co-design projects to enhance the experience for children in care.

Kriss Akabusi was the first speaker at the event and opened his address with the fact he was part of the care system as a child. Afterwards he said: “The people in this room have very important and very hard jobs, that they live 24/7. I applaud the great work that you do, and please know that it can be life-changing for young people in care.

That’s why events like these are so important! Having teachers, foster carers and social workers in the same place allows everyone to see how their roles and responsibilities complement each other, which gives them the ability to look at their role from a different perspective.”

The role of the Virtual School is to make sure schools, social workers, foster carers and other professionals work together and promote the educational outcomes of looked after children, children in need and those with child protection plans.

Cllr Laurie Burton, cabinet member for education and learning, said: “This event is two years in the planning and became delayed because of Covid, but we recognise the importance and funded it because we want to invest in our school leaders and social care colleagues with high quality training.

“It is important to get all these care givers in one room so that we can provide a well-rounded holistic approach to the children who need our support, putting children at the heart of what we do. This conference is a perfect demonstration of that.”

Some of the feedback from delegates on the day included:

“Renewed inspiration from all the speakers, especially after pandemic”

“Inspirational and thought provoking. Great to be together again. Emotional day”.

“The speakers really were inspirational – their message is so powerful, and we needed to hear it”.

Published: 16th November 2021

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