The team at NYAS and I bear an enormous responsibility for thousands of young people in care across the UK every single day.

It’s something we’re incredibly proud to do, and it motivates us all to work harder.

If you don’t know about NYAS, we are a national charity based in Birkenhead, Merseyside and we exist to help children in care across England and Wales to be heard. We also support many vulnerable adults, parents and carers.

We do this through advocacy – we give young people in care a voice when sometimes they don’t have one.

We provide legal services – we have our own team of lawyers and we provide independent representation for young people who are involved in legal proceedings.

We operate a network of truly incredible and inspiring volunteers and independent visitors and we genuinely couldn’t function without their amazing dedication and support.

The selfless – and unpaid – commitment of these people has so many positive benefits on the happiness and futures of the young people we support.

Almost 25,000 calls every year also come into the NYAS National Helpline – our helpline is a genuine lifeline to many children and our team offer advice and information – as well as allocating independent advocates to thousands of young people.

We also offer training, a range of participation events and activities and a whole host of other things to support young people in care.

Digital Life Stories

And it’s one of these “whole host of other things” that I’m excited to finally be able to share with the world.

Thanks to some incredible support funding from our partners at the Big Lottery Fund, we’ve been working on the ‘Digital Life Stories’ project during 2017.

The objective has been to encourage young people in care to share their experiences and aspirations for the future – and create a series of videos from scratch.

The project – at its heart – is focused on giving young people genuine and engaging experiences in a range of skills; primarily digital, video making, story-telling and marketing.

The lifecycle of creating a video is a fascinating experience and the young people we’ve been working with have been given a taste of that.

This project is also one that has encouraged the young people taking part to focus on their own aspirations for the future.

An amazing partnership

The funding from the Big Lottery Fund enabled us to work with our friends at No Brainer and Trunk! to create a series of workshops involving young people in care across the North West, South East and Wales.

In the North West, we worked alongside the Everton in the Community team at Everton Football Club, Edge Hill University and Olympic star Kriss Akabusi on a video focused on the incredible things young people in care can achieve.

The young people played a leading role in the planning and production of the aspirational video.

It was inspired by a poem written on scraps of paper by one of the young people at the session we hosted in Liverpool, and if you listen carefully their voices can be heard on the final film.

You can see the outcomes of these sessions by viewing the final video (below).

Animating the lives of young people

The second part of the project – which took place primarily in Devon and Cardiff – gave more of our young people the chance to create their own animated film.

The animation – which you can see below – captures their input at several sessions hosted by No Brainer and Trunk in Exeter and Wales. The young people developed the storyline, the characters and pretty much everything you see in the finished product.

And although the young people don’t appear on camera on this animated film, it captures their essence and input throughout.

Recognising amazing people

The two videos – although different in styles – are both truly special and we’re delighted to have the opportunity to showcase them to the young people, their carers and some of our amazing supporters at two exclusive and simultaneous events hosted at Woolton Picture House in Liverpool and Campus Cinema at Exeter University recently.

The events gave us an opportunity to champion the achievements of some truly wonderful young people and the two celebrations were the culmination of their efforts.

But, importantly, the two events also gave us an opportunity to recognise that aspirations aren’t just for the select few.

They are for everyone.

And they can be harnessed to create some truly wonderful things.

Encouraging young people to dream big

At NYAS we believe that every child – regardless about their experiences in life – should be encouraged to shoot for the stars.

And we want to draw that out more and more.

It’s projects like Digital Life Stories – and the support of the network of people who support young people in care – that can help make that a reality for more and more children who rely on us in their lives.

We hope experiences like Digital Life Stories can make a difference that lasts them a lifetime.

And we hope that the aspirations they’ve shared with us aren’t simply that.

To all the young people who took part in the Digital Life Stories project:

Follow your dreams…..but make sure that you dream big!

Rita Waters
Chief Executive at National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS)

“If you feel inspired by the Digital Life Stories project please do consider donating to NYAS or becoming an Independent Visitor for the charity by clicking the relevant button at the top of the page. By giving just a small amount of money or time, you’ll make a huge difference to the lives of young people in care and allow them to enjoy new experiences and a consistent level of support.”