Shaping the Agenda: 2023 in Review

Will Kerridge

Will Kerridge

Political Engagement & Policy Officer

It has been a jam-packed start to my life at Drive Forward. Having joined the team in the summer of 2023, it has been a massive learning experience. I’ve had only one option – to get stuck straight into the world of policy campaigning and advocacy. In this blog, I’d like to highlight some of the main achievements Drive Forward’s Policy Forum has had this year and reflect on what it means for us going into 2024.

Launch of ‘Dare to Care’ Guide:

Dare to Care (see the blog post Dare To Care: Ending Unnecessary Criminalisation) was written in conjunction with some of our policy forum members, who shared their experiences navigating the criminal justice system. It is a guide for legal professionals working with care-experienced young people, intending to support lawyers in better defending and representing their care-experienced clients.

Six members of the forum spoke in parliament during the launch event of Dare to Care, and their speeches were undoubtedly the highlight of the event. We have had multiple people follow up on the event with proposals to collaborate and deliver training and workshops with their own organizations, highlighting the success of the work and the undeniable commitment of the policy forum members.

Emily Thornberry couldn’t have put it any better when she said, ‘I think the best events are like this one. They are about achieving something practical that can actually deliver change and help people.’

Meeting with the Children’s Minister:

Drive Forward always seeks to increase its influence through alliances with other organizations and charities seeking similar outcomes for care-experienced young people. Through one of these alliances, we were able to meet with the Children’s Minister at the Department of Education office. The focus of our discussion centered on the important issue of Care Leavers’ mental health. During the meeting, we outlined the need to update statutory guidance with enhanced policies directed towards ending the Care Cliff young people experience when turning 18 and are in care.

What made this meeting particularly impactful was the direct involvement of Farhia, a member of the policy forum and a key driver behind the mental health campaign. She had the opportunity to engage directly with the Children’s Minister Johnston. This direct interaction allowed for a personal and compelling conversation between the two, amplifying the voices of those directly affected by the policies under consideration. We left the meeting inspired and committed, knowing that such collaborations are crucial in driving positive change for Care Leavers across the nation.

‘Dare to Care’ Follow-up Events:

Following the success of our Dare to Care launch event, the momentum continued to build throughout the year with further projects that underscored the impact of our policy forum. This included hosting a training session for the Ministry of Justice’s Youth Policy Unit. Members of our forum delivered an informative and personal session to over 60 civil servants working directly in youth justice.

I was also invited to speak at the NCLBF social care managers conference, where I had the opportunity to share key learning from Dare to Care and illustrate how they should be applied to social care practitioners who can act as another line of defense against the unnecessary criminalisation of care-experienced young people.

Building a Strong Community of Care-experienced Campaigners

When I joined Drive Forward, it was clear to me that there was a really strong community of passionate care-experienced adults who had built a robust community of campaigners and change-makers. The significance of community building cannot be overstated, as it forms the foundations for collaborative efforts, and ultimately, positive policy outcomes. As we look ahead to 2024, our commitment to maintaining and expanding this strong community remains. I hope to facilitate the growth of the forum this year with an expansion of members and an additional Housing campaign to run alongside the Mental Health and Criminalisation campaign we already have in place.

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Shaping the Agenda: 2023 in Review

Certainly! Your blog post is well-written, but I’ve made a few minor suggestions for clarity and flow. Here’s the edited version:

Blog Post for the Start of 2024

The Policy Forum’s Reflections on a Year of Progress

It has been a jam-packed start to my life at Drive Forward. Having joined the team in the summer of 2023, it has been a massive learning experience. I’ve had only one option – to get stuck straight into the world of policy campaigning and advocacy. In this blog, I’d like to highlight some of the main achievements Drive Forward’s Policy Forum has had this year and reflect on what it means for us going into 2024.

Read More »

Dare To Care: Ending unnecessary Criminalisation

Over the last couple of years, the Drive Forward’s Care-Experienced Policy Forum has been working to change this situation. Through the work of the Forum, the need to reduce the unnecessary criminalisation of children and young adults with care-experience has been recognised by decision-makers in the criminal justice system.  This has been reflected in the development and implementation of nationwide protocols, including the London protocol, which was co-produced with members of our Policy Forum.    

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Press Release: New practical guide for lawyers to help reduce the over-criminalisation of care experienced children and young adults

Over the last couple of years, the Drive Forward’s Care Experienced Policy Forum has been working with youth justice experts to create a new guide for lawyers to use when representing care experienced young people. The guide has been completed in collaboration with the Transition to Adulthood Alliance, Child Rights & Youth Justice, Garden Court Chambers and the Youth Justice Legal Centre.

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From Care to Career – Shabnam & Wunderman Thompson

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