TACT Connect explained
An interview with TACT Connect Coordinator Nicola, by one of our TACT Connect Advisors
What is TACT Connect?
The idea for the scheme came from our CEO, Andy Elvin, who noticed that there was limited support for young people leaving foster care and moving through into Staying Put – and the Welsh and Scottish equivalents, or into independence. After noticing this, TACT completed a survey with foster carers, young people and staff. The outcome of the survey showed that there is often limited and inconsistent support for young people leaving care and Andy wanted to set something up that promoted community and also prevented isolation. And so TACT Connect was born.
We are funded by the Big Lottery and have been around almost three years. TACT Connect has grown into a membership scheme that is offered to young people and adults who are 16 years old and well beyond. We offer a community whereby our members can have fun by coming along to regular online meet-ups, or they can connect with others in person at our Participation Events and also our Annual face to face events.
We are also building up face-to-face meet ups for our different regions, allowing our members to connect more easily. As well as offering fun, which we know is important, we also offer support with more serious matters such as helping with accessing services, or just helping with signposting. We also run regular self-development workshops, such as employability and wellbeing.
So, I guess TACT Connect is a membership scheme with a difference, because we are a community, and we are always growing and offering new experiences. This is shaped by our members and TACT Connect Advisors, who give us great feedback!
What does TACT Connect mean for young people?
When we speak with our members, they tell us that TACT Connect is like having a big family that they can come to when they need help or support or want company and connection. So, I think that TACT Connect is a community and a place to be when things are a bit tricky or a bit lonely.
Our members also like to spend time together when things are good too – and this has shown in our meetups, and in our feedback sessions like Have Your Say Events. Members enjoy being together and being around one another. I think that this is because our community offers the common ground of being care-experienced. Many members talk of feeling relaxed when around others who understand certain words or situations, without having to go into detail. There is a lot that goes unspoken but is understood by our community simply being together.
Aside from community and relationships, our members also speak about enjoying the variety of offers provided by TACT Connect. There are lots of new opportunities and there is a feeling that those that work at TACT Connect understand that not all opportunities are in reach all of the time. Things like meditation workshops can be helpful, or even reading our Connected Magazine. Being kept in mind and listened to is important to everybody, and our members talk of this being something that they get from being a part of TACT Connect. Many of our members talk about it being good to know that there is always someone there if needed, and that there is usually something going on if they want to be around others.
TACT Connect means being a part of a supportive community where members are listened to and heard, where members have a say in how the scheme grows and develops. Members can choose to be involved a lot sometimes, and less at other times. There is comfort in knowing that there is always someone around who can help or chat with when needed.
Who is on the TACT Connect team?
TACT Connect is made up of Andy Elvin (our CEO), Andy Pallas (our Executive Director), me (Nicola – TACT Connect Co-ordinator), Veniece (Peer Mentoring Project Worker) and our wonderful TACT Connect Advisors, who are our TACT care experienced young adults who are helping us to make TACT Connect brilliant!
When thinking about TACT Connect specifically, we are a small team. However, we are also part of the whole TACT Team which means that, like our members, we are kept in mind and work alongside pretty much everybody in TACT. Whether that is our social workers speaking with foster parents about TACT Connect, or our Children’s Resource Worker’s helping a young person become a member of TACT Connect, or maybe even our marketing team re-designing The TACT Connect logo, or the communications team editing Connected newsletter, we are definitely all in it together. So, we are really a little team within a much bigger team.
How can people get involved with TACT Connect?
Getting involved with TACT Connect is really easy. Those who would like to be a member of TACT Connect just go to our webpage here and then fill in the registration box.
We will then receive an email here at TACT Connect and we will give the new member a call and have a chat to let them know what to expect from being a member of TACT Connect.
What can TACT Connect offer?
TACT Connect offers a welcoming community, and a place to connect with like-minded people. We offer more practical things too. For example, when someone becomes a member of TACT Connect they are called by a TACT Connect staff member and receive a membership box full of goodies and a link to access our online Connect Hub!
After these initial gifts, the world of TACT Connect is their oyster! The new member can get involved in meet-ups, workshops, fun events, become a Mentor or a TACT Connect Advisor and access Life Coaching sessions. We can even be here to support in some financially tricky situations! Equally, if members are busy they might just want to look at the Hub or keep connected by text.
The whole thing with our community is that we are here no matter what, with no pressure, but always offering options of fun and support.
So, essentially, we grow with the changing interests and needs of our members to ensure that they are kept at the centre of TACT Connect right from the beginning of our first connection with them.