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Deputy Minister visits SOCSI to launch new social services initiative

30 November 2012

Gwenda Thomas AM (front) and Dr Sally Holland (far right) with Voices from Care staff and care leavers

Gwenda Thomas AM (front) and Dr Sally Holland (far right) with Voices from Care staff and care leavers

Gwenda Thomas AM, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, visited the Cardiff School of Social Sciences (SOCSI) on 29th November 2012 to launch the new Citizen Panel initiative.

This new initiative has created panels across Wales made up of social services users and carers to help influence decisions about how services in Wales can be improved. There is a young people’s panel for those up to the age of 18, plus adult panels based in North, South East, and South West Wales.

The Deputy Minister said:

"I was delighted to formally launch the Citizen Panels and it was a great opportunity to speak to young people from Voices from Care. Supporting young people who are in or leaving care is of the utmost importance to me and it was so valuable to hear the thoughts of those who have real experience with the care system.

“I want citizens to have a strong voice, to be able to influence decision making at every level. That is why I have put in place citizen panels that will play a vital role in influencing and driving forward the implementation of Sustainable Social Services for Wales.

“In 2011 I set up a partnership forum which brings all the major stakeholders in social services together. Now the forum and I will be able to listen to the experiences and views of the most important people, the citizens who rely on these services every day. We want to know about what matters to them.”

The Deputy Minister’s visit coincided with a training course run by the School’s Childhood Research Group and in collaboration with Voices from Care Cymru. Dr Sally Holland, a Reader in social work at SOCSI, is a Trustee of Voices from Care and is leading the research training alongside social work PhD students, Darren Andrews and Louise Roberts.

The two day course, supported by the DECIPHer research institute, equipped care leavers with knowledge about social research design, methods, ethics and appraisal, with the aim of forming a research advisory group in Voices. This group will advise researchers and organisations on research concerning looked after children and care leavers. They will advise on suitable methods and ethical issues as well as informing researchers of research priorities for looked after young people.

The School has a long-standing partnership with Voices from Care Cymru which is a user-led organisation for children and young people who are care experienced. Members of the organisation assist with the management of the Masters in Social Work at the School, playing a part in training qualifying social workers and selecting candidates for the programme.

Voices from Care members also advise on and participate in research projects and recently carried out a joint research project with SOCSI, funded by the Welsh Government's National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR), about the life histories of care leavers.

For more information about the Childhood Research Group, please click here.