Barnet On Point – Children In Care Council
Welcome message from BOP
We are BOP – short for Barnet on Point - your Child in Care Council. We meet regularly for various enrichment activities including social events and with staff to give our views. BOP is a support group for us, a safe space where we have a voice, where we can learn that we have opportunities, where you can express your individuality without feeling judged because the young people in the group have the same lived experiences.
It means a lot to us to have discussions with young people from different backgrounds who can relate – we are family. BOP helps us have a voice, it makes us understand the importance of having a voice and we feel that we are listened to.
At BOP you can always find someone to confide in. Even if you are shy and going through a lot, someone else will say it for you and it makes it easier.
Sometimes you don’t feel like talking and opening up to your social worker or foster carer, and BOP offers that space to talk about different issues affecting us. We want to be treated the same as other children and young people. We often hear: you are special and these opportunities are for normal children, but we are normal children, so please treat us like that. We are listened to at BOP and so should you!
The Children in Care Council allows us to influence policies, strategies and decisions and it means a lot to know that you’re not just a bystander and decisions are being made for you without being asked.
We invite different guests like the career advisors to prepare us for the future. We train new foster carers how to foster good relationships with their foster kids as they feel isolated when they move to a new place. We influenced the My Say Matters strategy and what practice educators need to teach new social workers.
Recently, we opened the Family Services Staff Conference, and did a recipe task for the best worker who works with children. It felt great to lead the conference and everyone listening to what young people have to say. Please consult more with young people, especially about decisions that concern us – we want to have the opportunity to decide about ourselves.
Your BOP Co-chairs, June 2023
More information on BOP
Or you can contact us via email: BOP@barnet.gov.uk
#BOP and Family Services host our annual Summer Celebration for Children in Care – July 2023
This year’s event proved to be a great success helped along by a weather miracle and sunshine throughout! 71 children in care and their families and carers attended to enjoy a range of activities for all ages and food from around the world. The themes for this year’s event were Belonging and Inclusion and particular thought went into arranging activities suitable for children who are neurodiverse or disabled and making sure our imagery in flags and on our stalls made everyone feel welcome.
As usual we had our awards ceremony hosted by #BOP members and Barnet’s Mayor where every young person got a certificate recognising their achievements. After time on inflatables, at our silent disco and chill out zones, eating jerk chicken, jollof rice and visiting the ice cream van we closed the event with group dancing and singing and the cutting of our celebration cake. Pictured, our Director of Children’s Services Chris Munday.
#BOP Beat Barnet Council Staff 10 – 0 in Family Friendly Football Game
Barnet’s Child in Care Council #BOP have recently started their own football team and in June 2023 played council staff in a friendly game.The match was attended by Chris Munday our Director of Children Services and members of the leadership and management team as spectators.
Young people took part in 3 training sessions with a professional coach and in the final game played against staff in an exhibition match. Each young person received a certificate from Chris to recognise their achievement and vouchers as a reward.
Needless to say the staff team struggled and were not able to score a single goal – but put up a good defence against a stronger, younger and more talented side! It was great to see young people and staff who also took part in the training sessions connecting via the medium of sport.
We hope to see the #BOP team again at other events and there is talk of a match with a similar team in a neighbouring borough.
#BOP Address Council Members at Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel – Feb 2023
Members of #BOP led a session at the start of CPAP ( Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel) held at Hendon Town Hall and attended by elected members, Barnet Family Services senior leadership team and partner agencies. Things got off to a good start with an ice breaker involving chocolate that helped everyone get to know each other and then led on to more serious stuff. #BOP explained what a child in care council is, how they work and what they expect from the adults who support them. They showed their tenacity, resilience and ability to confidently communicate their views and offer feedback about the services they use.
This included the following things they would like us to work on
- being consulted properly about the dates and times of meetings and arrangements to see family
- keeping therapy separate from school life and when there are meetings in school not being asked to collect your social worker in front of friends
- ensuring schools have training about the needs of disabled young people in care or those with ADHD/dyslexia, more tutoring and that this is quicker to organise
- making sure information is only shared when really necessary, their privacy is respected and young people don’t feel “monitored”
- calling our home a “placement” and for social workers to be more consistent, and pay more attention to what we are saying
Season's Greetings card design for partners
2022 has come to an end and was another year of remarkable contribution from Barnet’s young people. Their efforts and involvement with important matters, decision making, and events were inspirational and so valuable to us all. This is evident in the fantastic achievements and activities below.
We finished the year wanting to create a season’s greetings card from family services for our staff and partners as well as members of our community, but we felt this would be most meaningful if we could include the input from our young people. As such, we used the excellent design of D, age 16, for our season’s greetings card.
Barnet’s Child in Care Council open our 2022 Family Services Staff Conference
On 9 November, BOP opened Barnet’s Family Services Staff Conference with a speech sharing the importance of #youthvoice and what it means to have a safe space to express our individuality. It means the world to us to have the appropriate support from carers, social workers, and all other professionals working with children and young people.
“BOP is a support group for us, a safe space where we have a voice, where we can learn that we have opportunities, where you can express your individuality without feeling judged because the young people in the group have the same lived experiences.
It means a lot to us to have discussions with young people from different backgrounds who can relate – we are family. BOP helps you have a voice, it makes us understand the importance of having a voice and we feel that we are listened to. At BOP you can always find someone to confide in. Even if you are shy and going through a lot, someone else will say it for you and it makes it easier.” BOP Members 2022
BOP also led an exercise for the whole staff group ( 400 people!) where they were asked to bake a recipe for their perfect person who works with children. Staff did some really creative recipes and BOP shared what they wanted the worker to be like. This was so inspiring that one staff member sang her reply!
Children in Care celebrate Black History Month
In October BOP (Barnet on Point) our Child in Care Council celebrated Black History Month with a Caribbean takeaway and discussion about inspirational Black care leavers.
We learnt about the achievements of Loraine Pascale (Chef, writer, TV, presenter and model) and Lemn Sissay (Poet, University Chancellor and OBE).
We also heard from one of Barnet's own Black care leavers who shared her inspiration and advice, and explained the history behind the food we were eating. Young people taking part from all cultural backgrounds were pleased to share their knowledge and appreciation of Black British culture and the contribution it has made to their lives.
Summer celebration for Barnet’s children in care
On 26 July 2022 Barnet held a Family Fun Day for 200 young people, their carers and Family Services staff to celebrate the achievements of children in care. The event included an awards ceremony where children of all ages received a certificate for their achievements which was presented by Barnet’s Mayor and senior leaders.
Activities included music, great food, inflatables, mindfulness, dance, and an ice-cream van. The day provided a great opportunity for our children in care to get together, socialise and meet the staff who support them all year round.
"I thought it was amazing and I loved the gaming van. The food was delicious especially the slushies and ice cream. It felt really good to get my certificate, I was proud of myself and so were my friends. I wanted to stay and play football for longer with everyone, I didn’t want it to end." T, member of BOP our Child in Care Council