Teenager living in care says he "feels listened to" after momentous Wigan Council decision

After years of being left out, a teenager in care says he now feels “valued and listened to” after a landmark decision by Wigan Council.
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Rorey Scriven, a 16-year-old from Wigan living in care, hailed the cross-party agreement to make care experience a “protected characteristic” in his home borough.

After Coun Jenny Bullen’s motion was passed at full council in the town hall, it means that every council policy set should consider the needs of young people in care and those who have left it, by placing an additional characteristic in the council’s Equality Impact Assessments. This will give them formal recognition and make sure that all decisions have to take into account the needs and impact on all those who are care experienced.

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Coun Jenny Bullen and Terry Galloway at Wigan Town HallCoun Jenny Bullen and Terry Galloway at Wigan Town Hall
Coun Jenny Bullen and Terry Galloway at Wigan Town Hall
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“This ensures that not only young people and children in care, but care leavers have their voice heard within every policy and debate that council has,” Rorey said after the meeting.

“This is because care affects you in every aspect of your life so this fully allows us to be protected in that aspect. It ensures we feel valued and feel listened to.

“So it is great to see that Wigan is valuing us today with this decision. Often adults make a lot of decisions about every aspect of our lives without us.

“We want our voices heard and often there wasn’t not a platform for us to do that. This ensures that is happening now.

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“It is good to see cross party support and a full majority vote.”

Coin Bullen explained to the chamber that currently the law does not include care experience as a protected characteristic, but she claimed there is a strong weight of argument that it should do. Other examples of protected characteristics includes: age, sexual orientation, race or religion.

“Significant lobbying is going on and a recent Independent Review of Children’s Social Care commissioned by the Government reported that in order to overcome the discrimination, stigma and prejudice that those who are care experienced face in their day to day lives, government should make care experience a protected characteristic,” she said. “We cannot imagine this happening anytime soon.

“This is why I am proposing that this council acts now to be the best corporate parents we can be and make sure that some of our most vulnerable children and young people are happy, healthy and safe, feel listened to and have the maximum opportunities to be ambitious. If they need help and support, it should be at the right time, by the right person and in the right place for them.”

A long-time campaigner on this topic is Terry Galloway, who attended the meeting alongside Rorey, now wants more councils and partners to adopt corporate parenting. This in turn would branch out the people that can support those in care – and hopefully improve their chances of achieving their ambitions, he believes.

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“I’m beyond proud that Wigan Council is standing up for Care Experienced People, we have long been discriminated against and calls have been made before for this, but this time we have momentum,” he said. “Councils across the UK are listening and acting rather than making us wait for the change.

“The effect this will have on care experienced people can’t be underestimated, in my opinion these councils now have every right to call on their partners and networks to adopt corporate parenting for children in care and care experienced people right now and work with people like Rorey to work out what being a good corporate parent means and what they can do to help us achieve our potential.

"This would mean the whole system starts to take responsibility with less pushback onto local authorities – with partners often retreating into silos muttering “It’s not my job” under their breath.

“The real bonkers thing is that those same partners are paying the price because there is fiscal, economic, and social equating for every child in the care system equating to £1.2 million. On top of that is the human cost.

“Protected characteristics and corporate parenting helps them understand the human side of things and will help them join the dots financially.”