This week (25th October – 1st November) is National Care Leavers’ Week 2023, known to some as Care Experienced Week! This week was inspired by young adults who left care and shared that the experience of care stayed with them, but the care system didn’t.
In 2018 we created TACT Connect, a community dedicated to supporting our young people beyond them ‘leaving care’, providing a commitment to be alongside TACT care experienced young people and adults throughout their life. Over the last five years, TACT Connect has evolved and developed, now providing a community for members, who can engage with like-minded people informally through social meet ups and events, while also being able to access help and advice on things like money, education and employment as and when they need it.
With our wonderful TACT Connect Community in mind, this year we unite with Become, the charity for those leaving care, who have put a call out to the public, professionals, carers and decision-makers to CARE: Celebrate care leavers, Amplify their voices, Raise awareness of challenges, and Encourage change in policy and practice. So, to mark National Care Leavers Week 2023, some of our TACT Connect team and staff have been thinking about what each point means to them…
‘C’ for Celebrate care leavers.
“They [TACT Connect] acknowledge each member as an individual, they meet members where they’re at to champion and celebrate every step that they make. It’s an honour for me as Post-16 advisor to be alongside some members with their education & career journeys, but this is just a small part of how Connect celebrates each member, and each element and stage of their life.” – Megan, Post-16 Advisor.
‘A’ for Amplify care-experienced voices.
“TACT Connect really amplifies each member’s voice, as each member is equal in the community with the opportunity to shape what Connect is. Members are heard and they co-design activities to bring awareness to Connect.” – Megan, Post-16 Advisor
‘R’ for Raise awareness of challenges.
Challenges are hard – but important to learn in and from, and this is something we continue to do in TACT Connect, whether this is through reflecting on team practice, organisational practice or campaigning like the recent Protected Characteristic Campaign. We’re there thinking, reflecting and building courage in how to raise awareness of the unique challenges that come with being care experienced. – Nicola, TACT Connect Lead
‘E’ for Encourage change in policy and practice.
“Connect has facilitated organisational reflection on young people’s experiences in care and contributed to systemic changes.” – Hannah, Fundraising Consultant
During our Instagram takeover in Care Leavers Week 2022, some of our brilliant members shared more with us about what TACT Connect is and what it means to them….
Otis: “What I love about being a TACT Connect member is there are multiple opportunities to socialise with other care experienced people. It is being part of a community that enables me to focus on building good friendships. I love the community vibe, it’s something I look forward to.”
Sam: “There isn’t anything else like it, and it’s nice to know that I still have support from people after I turned 18 and I get to choose when and if I get it.”
Jack: “There is support when needed. And there are always activities that you can get involved in.”
At TACT, we believe that the care of young people is a lifetime commitment and we’re committed to providing care, support, and a sense of community to our care experienced people whenever and however they require it.
TACT fully supports the campaign and the work of Become. However, at TACT, we choose not to use the term ‘care leaver’. It is a term that our young people and care experienced people tell us that they don’t like, but it also signifies an end that is not reflective to our commitment to them. Read more about TACT’s Language that Cares here.
“We’ve long been frustrated that the care system largely shuns responsibility for our children once they reach adulthood. At TACT, we take a different approach. We firmly believe that parenting is for life and that, although young people might move on from their foster homes, they never leave our care.
It’s this ethos that has driven us to innovate and establish TACT Connect. TACT Connect offers care-experienced young people and adults a community; somewhere to celebrate their successes and be there to lend a hand when needed.” – Andy Elvin, TACT CEO