CHILDREN’S HOMES in Sunderland are shining a light on their carers as part of Children’s Homes Fortnight, which runs from 24 June – 7 July.

The two-week celebration has been run by Together for Children (TfC) for the last four years, after being set up by Ellie Anderson from Sunderland, who is a care experienced young person who wanted to acknowledge the people who work in children’s homes and the positive impact they had in her life.

Ellie is part of Change Council, a youth participation group for cared for or care experienced young people who meet regularly to discuss issues that affect them, to consult on activity TfC is doing for other care experienced young people and set up events for young people like themselves.

The Change Council also support activity such as training for social workers and help to influence TfC policy, they recently campaigned to make being care experienced a protected characteristic in TfC and Sunderland City Council job applications.  They also pioneered the Change the Language campaign to use more appropriate language when speaking about cared for children.

Throughout Children’s Homes Fortnight, Sunderland’s seven children’s homes are celebrating with special activities and parties. Each home has its own day, and the workers and residents can choose how they want to celebrate their staff. Staff are being recognised with certificates for five, 10 and 15 years of service, with special awards being handed to those who have been in their roles for 20 and 25 years.

“I lived in a Sunderland children’s home for five years and the staff were absolutely amazing; they were like my family. I thought it was unfair that children’s homes staff don’t get a lot of praise and there can be a stigma around children’s homes.

“I thought if we push against the stigma, it will not only help to break it down but give the staff the recognition that they deserve. The staff are very happy to have their work celebrated and I think it has been really positive for team morale.”

Children’s Homes Fortnight Ellie, speaking about establishing

Ellie now hopes to take Children’s Homes Fortnight outside of Sunderland to celebrate children’s home staff across the region.

“Every child should feel loved, every child should be celebrated, and every child should experience being cared for by adults who do will everything in their power to help them achieve whatever their ambitions might be.

“I am particularly proud that Children’s Homes Fortnight is a celebration created by one of our care experienced young people who wanted her carers, from her home, to be recognised and celebrated for the impact they have had in her life, of course she extended this to all of our homes and is now championing for this being taken across our North East region. There really is no greater recognition than that given by the children and young people we do this for.”

Sharon Willis, Head of Residential and Care Experienced Services at Together for Children

Sunderland currently has seven homes providing care for children and young people, ranging from 2-5 beds, with a further two set to open in coming months.

One of the homes, Colombo Road in Castletown, recently received an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted rating for the sixth time,  after being commended for its “highly effective services” and “positive experiences for children and young people who need help, protection and care.”

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