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Challenging perceptions of learning disabilities and learning difficulties

Care-experienced young people go through a lot when it comes to navigating the ins and outs of each foster care home they find themselves in.
They have to work out how to sustain meaningful relationships and find a way into further education or employment, all whilst carrying trauma. To top this off, some of the young people working with Drive Forward may also deal with learning difficulties and/or learning disabilities.

Read more to learn more about the common learning challenges our young people have to balance, tips on how to manage conditions and how Drive Forward tailor’s our approach to put the needs and aspirations of our young people at the centre of our work.

World Refugee Day: the challenges facing unaccompanied minors

The 20th of June is the UN World’s Refugee Day. On this occasion, I would like to share a few insights and experiences I gained from supporting our young people with experience of foster and/or residential care in London.

If you know DFF, you also know that our mission is to support young care-experienced people into sustainable employment and to help them realize their full potential. And you might also know that each young person has a different story, different challenges and different strengths. Every day I learn something new from working with these wonderful talented young people and I am often amazed by how resilient and strong many of them are. What inspires me in particular, is to see the ambition and the drive of those young people that came to the UK as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UCAS). These are young people who are seeking asylum in the UK but who have been separated from their parents or carers. While their claim is processed, they are cared for by a local authority.

Ready. Steady. Go. Introducing our London Marathon Runner 2021

2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the world-famous London Marathon and for the first time in Drive Forward’s history there will be a participant bearing our logo!
Andy Hearne, who works with our partners at The Crown Estate, has taken up the challenge of running the 26.219 miles around the River Thames on 3 October this year. Wanting to find out more about Andy’s motivations, his training, and why he believes that supporting care-experienced young people into fulfilling careers, we’ve asked him some questions.

What barristers can do to help decriminalise care

Half of the children detained in Youth Offending Institutes are, or have been, in the care system. That’s despite the fact that children in care make up less than one percent of the child population. Research conducted by the Howard League for Penal Reform has found that unnecessary police call-outs and mental health difficulties are two of the main factors behind this statistic.

Prevention is better than the cure, and our Policy Forum’s criminalisation subgroup has mainly focused on how we can avoid children in care coming into contact with the criminal justice system in the first place. The group has worked extensively with the Metropolitan Police and the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime on ways to achieve this. Forcing carers, social workers and other agents to ask themselves the question ‘Would this be good enough for my child’, our young people helped to write a protocol, released in March this year, aimed at keeping police call-outs as a last resort.

Drive Forward with Mentoring. The benefits of building trusted relationships

Introduced in 2015, our mentoring scheme has since developed into a comprehensive programme encompassing bespoke training for professional mentors, continuous support for both mentors and mentees, and additional professional development opportunities for care-experienced young people. What began as a small pilot with only a handful of participants, is now an integral part of the Drive Forward approach to enable care-experienced youth in London to achieve their full potential through sustainable and fulfilling employment.

We asked one of our very first participants, Sally, about the benefits that she has experienced from building and maintaining a trusted and consistent mentoring relationship.

Superdrug & Drive Forward. A strong and successful partnership

Global day of (corporate) parents

Parenting is probably the most demanding and critical job in the world. Taking responsibility for a child, for children; caring for them, nurturing them, looking after their every need over years and years, takes patience, love, and courage. The Global Day of Parents emphasises this pivotal role families play in the protection and development of children all around the world. It celebrates their selfless commitment and efforts, and highlights the great value they bring to society every single day.

Strong Partnerships: Superdrug & Drive Forward

In January 2020, Superdrug became an official partner of Drive Forward, and provided placement opportunities in key roles across head office and pharmacy.

2019 saw the start of this rewarding partnership. We kicked off by attending a couple of ‘Interview Prep & Pizza’ events with members of Superdrug’s Access All Areas social mobility network, which was a fantastic introduction to the initiative.

Modupe’s Story. Joining the Civil Service

Thinking back to your early 20s, did you know what you wanted to do with your life? For young people coming out of care, the years between their 18th and 25th birthday are pivotal. Before their local authority closes their case forever, these young people have to make sure that they are financially, emotionally, and practically stable. That means having a secure place to live, sufficient income, and a support network. However, actually making those decisions that will impact one’s life in the long-term is not an easy task.

From Care to Career – it’s not always a straight line

“Young people who are in or about to leave local authority care are often vulnerable, isolated, more likely to suffer with mental health issues, and face bigger barriers when trying to find work. Helping a supporting a young man like Darnell who has had so many obstacles, and challenges in life and not always made the best decision for himself but is so positive, and determined to overcome them you just can’t help but admire and want help, and it has been a real privilege and pleasure. Young men like him are great examples to others, he has a great attitude and I hope the small opportunity we have given him will help him to go on a achieve his goals” Matthew Weatherby, Social Value Manger at Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd

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