On Thursday 30th June 2022, members of the NYAS Campaigns Advisory Group (CAG) headed down to London for their first in person meeting since the pandemic. Across a two-day trip, these care experienced young people shared their experience of life in care with government officials and policy makers to champion change across the care system. ​​​​​​​

Who are the NYAS Campaigns Advisory Group?

Our Campaigns Youth Advisory Group helps to shape NYAS’ policy and campaigning activity. By sharing their stories, providing their opinion and challenging our work, these young people ensure that the campaigns we create are truly youth-led.

By listening to the voices and experiences of care experienced young people, we ensure that our campaigns address the things that matter most to children and young people in care across England and Wales.

The members of our Campaigns Youth Advisory Group have a huge impact on NYAS’ campaigns, and influence key stakeholders in policy reform  – from local councils to parliament, our young people are steering positive change for people in care, and vulnerable adults. 

Why did the NYAS CAG visit London?

At NYAS, we aim to support, safeguard and empower care experienced young people to use their voice, so this trip was all about allowing our young people to have their voices heard by people who have the power to enact real change.

The seven young people who attended the trip were sharing their experiences with policy makers and professionals who are able to influence change in the care system. The NYAS CAG were accompanied by Jen Downie (Policy and Research Assistant), Phillippa Horsfall (National Participation & Youth Engagement Manager for England) and Katie Marrin (Digital Marketing Executive).

The purpose of this visit was to ensure young people's voices are not forgotten when decisions are being made about them, echoing the advocacy work we deliver across NYAS. 

Who did the NYAS CAG meet?

Our young people had a jam packed visit!

  • On Thursday morning, the young people headed to the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. They had an appointment with Helen Hayes, the Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood and the Shadow Cabinet Minister for Education.

    Helen wanted to hear the experiences that our young people had growing up in the care system. She also listened closely to what they wanted to change about our current system. Our CAG spoke about a variety of experiences, from housing to education and isolation.
NYAS CAG met with Helen Hayes, Labour MP
  • After lunch, the CAG moved to the  Department for Education, where they met with the Care Leavers Policy Making Team. They spoke with a large range of professionals from the team, including Robert Macpherson, one of the Policy Advisors at the Department for Education.

    Robert shared the current work programme the DfE offer for care leavers, as well as the care review recommendations affecting their team. Our young people provided feedback, particularly on the damaging impact of using negative statistics when communicating with children and young people in care. 

  • To round off Thursday, the NYAS CAG met with the office of the Children's Commissioner for England. Unfortunately the Commissioner herself was up in Liverpool, but her team were incredibly welcoming. 

    Led by Scout Davies, Senior Digital Engagement Officer at Children's Commissioner for England, the team shared information about The Big Ask and the IMO Hub - a digital space for teenagers in care and for care leavers.

    Our CAG shared their thoughts, priorities and took home a fantastic IMO goodie bag too! One core theme from our CAG members was the importance of communication training for staff who work with care experinced children and youing people. Mental health support was also a key area where our CAG wanted to see improvements.

NYAS CAG met with Children's Commissioner Office
  • To finish the trip, the CAG visited London Dungeons on Friday morning. This was the first time that the group had met in person, so the dungeons definitely offered a fantastic bonding experience for them.

Hearing these young people challenge and question policy makers and MPs was fantastic - they used their voices to call for change, and to hold a system that isn't working to account. We want to extend a huge thank you to all of the staff who welcomed our young people so warmly, and for providing an opportunity for them to make their voices heard.

Fancy getting involved with the NYAS CAG? Know someone who would be a good fit?