How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People A handbook How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People A handbook Mary Ryan Mary Ryan Research tells us that care leavers who have good friendships and support networks do better and are happier than those who don’t. Care leavers themselves say that friends are important for them and loneliness is a big worry. Relationships Matter is a tried and tested intervention that helps care leavers learn about and practise communication and relationship skills. Care leavers take part in a group activity that is fun, challenging and aims to build their resilience.

This handbook describes how to set up a local partnership to deliver a Relationships Matter group based on a successful approach developed and piloted by National Children’s Bureau and Relate.

National Children’s Bureau 8 Wakley Street London EC1V 7QE tel +44 (0)20 7843 6000 fax +44 (0)20 7278 9512 Registered Charity Number 258825 Useful numbers Book Sales: 0845 458 9910 Conferences and Training: 020 7843 6041 Fundraising: 020 7843 6329 Information Centre: 020 7843 6008 Membership: 020 7843 6080 Young NCB: 020 7843 6099 www.ncb.org.uk

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People

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How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People A handbook Mary Ryan

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People

NCB’s vision is a society in which children and young people contribute, are valued and their rights respected.

NCB aims to: ■ ■ reduce inequalities of opportunity in childhood ■ ■ ensure children and young people can use their voice to improve the lives and their lives of those around them ■ ■ improve perceptions of children and young people ■ ■ enhance the health, learning, experiences and opportunities of children and young people ■ ■ encourage the building of positive and supportive relationships for children and young people with families, carers, friends and communities ■ ■ provide leadership through the use of evidence and research to improve policy and practice NCB has adopted and works within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Published by NCB NCB, 8 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7QE Tel: 0207 843 6000 Website: www.ncb.org.uk Registered charity number: 258825 NCB works in partnership with Children in Scotland (www.childreninscotland.org.uk) and Children in Wales (www.childreninwales.org.uk).

© National Children’s Bureau 2012 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any person without the written permission of the publisher. The views expressed in this book are those of the author and not necessarily those of NCB. Typeset by Saxon Graphics, Derby Printed by Redlin Print Ltd, Chelmsford

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People

Contents Acknowledgements iv 1 Introduction 1 2 A quick guide to Relationships Matter 3 3 Working with looked after young people 7 4 Why focus on relationship and communication skills? 9 5 Getting it right – shaping the groups 12 6 What happens in Relationships Matter groups 15 7 Building in evaluation 23 8 Planning and delivering a Relationships Matter group 27 References 34 Appendix 1: Relationships Matter Project Advisory Group members 36 Appendix 2: Useful websites and resources 37 Appendix 3: Self-efficacy questionnaire 40

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People

Acknowledgements The Relationships Matter pilot project ran between 2008 and 2010 and thanks are due to all who contributed to its development and success: ■ ■ the Department of Health for funding the project ■ ■ the Relationships Matter Advisory Group, especially its chair Professor Mike Stein ■ ■ looked after children’s services in each of the three pilot areas – Portsmouth, Salford and Warwickshire – and especially the managers and staff who worked with the groups and made sure they could happen ■ ■ Relate Centres in Portsmouth, Greater Manchester and Rugby, and especially the Relate practitioners who were involved in working with the groups ■ ■ Women’s Aid Manchester and Motiv8 Portsmouth ■ ■ evaluators at the Centre for Child and Family Research, Loughborough University ■ ■ Mary Ryan, Sue Tuckwell and Dr Annmarie Turnbull for consultancy support ■ ■ Helen Chambers of National Children’s Bureau ■ ■ Dale Meegan and Jamie Murdoch of Relate Central Office.

And special thanks to the young people who took part in the project so enthusiastically and told us what they thought about it.

NCB’s mission is to improve children and young people’s experiences and life chances reducing the impact of inequalities. Relate is working to promote health, respect and justice in couple and family relationships.

1 1 Introduction Those closely involved in the lives of care leavers know that making and sustaining relationships can be an area of great difficulty for these young people. Many of them are overcoming the effects of childhood neglect and abuse, and, for some, the loss of their birth family too. Although these young people are on the threshold of adulthood, it is not uncommon for them never to have learnt how to satisfy that most human need of learning how to get on with others and all that it entails – trust, acceptance, self-awareness, responsiveness, confidence, sharing and more.

This can leave them ill-equipped to make the journey towards a happy and fulfilled adult life. Professionals, including foster carers, frequently express frustration about how little practical support or advice there is to help looked after young people learn how to be more successful in getting on with others. ‘Relationships Matter’ was developed to find an effective way to provide this support at a local level. A pilot project explored how to deliver an activities-based intervention for looked after young people that focused on developing their relationship and communication skills.

National Children’s Bureau combined their knowledge of the health and well-being needs of looked after young people with Relate’s experience of building communication and relationship skills. ‘Relationships Matter’ was developed and tested in partnership with three children’s services departments and their local Relate centres in Portsmouth, Salford and Warwickshire. The project aimed to: ■ ■ work with looked after young people aged 14 to 18 ■ ■ focus on improving the relationship and communication skills of these young people ■ ■ result in improved relationships between the young people and their peers and with professionals.

The outcome is a successful, practical and easy-to-deliver intervention that has been positively evaluated by Loughborough University. Relationships Matter was funded by a Department of Health grant and took place between 2008 and 2010. In each of the three pilot locations – Portsmouth, Salford and Warwickshire – local partnerships were developed between the looked after children’s services in each area and the local Relate centres. The Relate centres were selected because they had extensive experience of working with vulnerable young people, and the children’s services because they had been involved in developing local healthy care programmes.

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 2 A Project Advisory Group, chaired by Professor Mike Stein of York University, oversaw the development of the project and provided valuable advice and guidance. A list of Project Advisory Group members can be found in Appendix 1. This handbook describes what Relationships Matter is, how similar projects can be delivered by local partnerships, and signposts sources of support and information. It is accompanied by a guide for managers and commissioners seeking to develop a local Relationships Matter partnership.

Members of the Warwickshire Relationships Matter Group

3 2 A quick guide to Relationships Matter Relationships Matter is a tried-and-tested intervention for looked after young people that is concerned with the everyday business of getting on with people. The benefits For young people – It helps them to improve and practise their relationship and communication skills, while participating in activities of interest to them in positive peer groups. For staff working with young people as part of the group – It increases their knowledge and competence about how to support young people to build their communication skills.

For children’s services – It helps them to prepare young people for the challenges of leaving care, by promoting the emotional well-being of young people and offering staff a practical way to support young people in learning how to be good communicators.

For children’s services – It can demonstrate how multi-agency services are meeting the ‘Being healthy’ outcome for looked after young people, which is reviewed in looked after children’s service inspections, and it can contribute to delivering the requirements of statutory and non-statutory looked after children’s health guidance.

Delivery Using local partnerships Relationships Matter brings together experienced young people’s relationship skills facilitators from Relate and similar organisations to work with local children’s services providers. Together they plan and deliver a programme that uses regular leisure activities as a base for young people to explore how to get on better with others. It can fit in with existing activities and programmes or be delivered as part of a specially planned activity programme. The activity must be ‘real’ – something that young people want to do, that is enjoyable and which presents them with a challenge.

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 4 Relationships Matter uses the process of doing the activity together to provide rich, varied and non-threatening opportunities for learning about communication and developing relationship skills. While taking part in the interactive activities young people explore issues such as: ■ ■ What am I like? ■ ■ Others and me. ■ ■ Getting on with others. ■ ■ Dealing with strong negative emotions. ■ ■ Dealing with difficulties. It is time limited and for example runs for between 8 and 12 weeks. Does it work?

The programme has built-in evaluation tools so that young people, those delivering the programme and commissioners can see what has been achieved.

It has been positively evaluated by the Centre for Child and Family Research at Loughborough University. By focusing on building resilience, young people learn that they can make a difference and that their behaviour can change how things are. They will explore their strengths and get a chance to experience being part of a team. They will probably make some new friends and will certainly have the opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a good friend.

What young people said ‘  Good to think about what qualities you like in a friend.’ ‘  ... it has helped me respect myself more ...’ ‘ We really encouraged each other to do things we hadn’t tried.’ ‘  I learnt things about myself and what I want in a relationship.’

A quick guide to Relationships Matter 5 Relationships Matter groups were piloted in partnership with children’s services and local Relate centres in three locations. Each group was different in terms of the activity chosen by the young people and those who took part. Challenging and interesting activities were used as a platform to integrate the Relationships Matter programme.

Portsmouth and Salford groups ran at the same time. Learning from these groups informed the Warwickshire group that ran later. A member of the Warwickshire group scaling a climbing wall Portsmouth A young people’s participation group was facilitated by Motiv8, a local arts project. Several of the young people lived in residential children’s homes. The group decided to organise a Halloween party. Relate practitioners worked with the arts youth workers to weave the Relationships Matter programme into the party planning. The group met for six weeks and for a whole day on the day of the party.

They also enjoyed a team-building session at a local gym. Group size varied from 17 young people present at the first meeting to a regular 10 to 12 attending the other sessions. There were slightly more girls than boys in the group.

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 6 Salford A young men’s football group wanted to meet more often and try different activities. The group included some young people who were unaccompanied asylum seekers and a young person with learning difficulties. Relate practitioners worked with the leaving care staff team and a professional film-maker from Women’s Aid Manchester who was funded to work with young people. The young men preferred being active to talking! They made an animation film about ‘Respect’ and filmed some of the group’s team-building activities.

Between 10 to 12 young men met for six weeks. The young men invited the head of the Leaving Care Service to the premiere of their film and were presented with certificates. Warwickshire Young people who had participated in a Right2BCared41 pilot project took part in this group. They focused on making a rap CD, writing and recording raps about themselves and designing artwork to accompany the raps. They worked with a graffiti artist, an established rap artist (who had a care background himself) and spent a day at a local watersports park where they scaled a climbing wall and tried out other adventurous activities.

Relate practitioners worked with a looked after young people’s youth worker who knew the young people from the Right2BCared4 pilot. It was a smaller group than those of the other two pilot groups: six young people met for eight weeks at a local youth club. Young people wrote raps in the Warwickshire group 1 The Right2BCared4 pilot began in October 2007 in 11 local authorities and is based on the principles that: young people should not be expected to leave care until they reach the age of 18; they should have a greater say in the decision-making process preceding their exit from care; and should be prepared properly for living independently.

The evaluation of the pilot can be found at: https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/RSG/publicationDetail/Page1/DFE-R B106 (accessed 16 September 2011).

7 3 Working with looked after young people Looked after young people are a unique group for many reasons. Those involved in delivering programmes such as Relationships Matter need to have a good understanding of this and of the lives of looked after children and young people. Looked after young people have often had experience of physical and emotional neglect, physical and/or sexual abuse, poor parenting and family breakdown. Some of this may be linked to substance misuse and/or the mental health problems of their parents. Sometimes a young person may have returned home and gone back into care many times, with all the sadness and disappointment that brings.

Their relationship with their family may have broken down completely or they may be living with relatives such as grandparents. They may have moved several times to different foster carers, residential children’s homes or perhaps boarding schools.

Once a child or young person comes into care, many professionals will be involved in their lives. The young person becomes the responsibility of their local authority who act as their ‘corporate parent’. Looked after young people are living not only with the impact of what led them to being taken into care, and but also adjusting to a very different life once they become looked after. Being in care aims to help children and young people be safer, healthier and happier as they grow up, but this is a difficult task and they will need skilled help and support from foster carers, residential child care workers, social workers, therapists and others.

Most of all they will need caring relationships with the adults who want the best for them.

The Relate practitioners who were involved in delivering the pilot Relationships Matter groups were very struck by just how much the young people were dealing with in their lives and just how special these groups were. As one of the practitioners commented: ‘  These young people have had such varied life experiences and it was a huge privilege when they felt safe enough to share some of these experiences within the group. The overriding feeling that I was left with is that however well-intended some interventions may be, these young people deserve consideration and respect regarding the numerous changes in their lives and the expectations upon them to continually adapt to new places and engage with new people.’

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 8 The evaluation of the Relationships Matter project advised that those involved in delivering the programme should have knowledge and experience of working with looked after young people. The Relate practitioners and local authority partners all agreed that this was essential. Find out more about looked after young people’s lives The Centre for Excellence and Outcomes in Children and Young People’s Services The Vulnerable Children section covers how to promote emotional health and well-being in looked after children and young people, and how to support young care leavers in safe, settled accommodation.

It includes two videos about the transition from care to independence as well as an online learning resource. www.c4eo.org.uk (accessed 18 September 2011). Who’s who in the care system describes the different professionals and their roles in looked after young people’s lives. http://www.thewhocarestrust.org.uk/pages/whos-who-in-the-care-system.html (accessed 5 September 2011).

Promoting the health of young people leaving care by Ryan, M and Chambers, H (2008) published by NCB and available at: http://www.ncb.org.uk/healthycare/resources.aspx (and select ‘Healthy care briefings’) (accessed September 2011) Understanding why by Ryan M (2006) published by NCB. Understanding attachment and how this can affect education, with special reference to adopted children and young people and those looked after by local authorities. Available at: http://www.ncb.org.uk/healthycare/resources.aspx (and select ‘For foster carers’) (accessed September 2011) See also Appendix 2: Useful websites and resources

9 4 Why focus on relationships and communications skills? There are over 64,000 looked after children and young people in England and the numbers are rising. Of these children and young people, 73 per cent live in foster care (Department for Education 2010), 11 per cent (mostly aged over 10) are living in residential children homes, a third live outside their local authority boundary, mostly within 20 miles of their home (Department of Children, Schools and Families and Department of Health 2009). Changes initiated by the Care Matters White Paper (HM Government 2007) has drawn attention to the need to provide longer and more supported transitions for looked after young people leaving care.

This is more reflective of the extended transitions and ongoing support received by young people in the general population but the reality is that young care leavers still have to cope on their own at an early age.

‘  In contrast to the extended transitions made by most young people, the journey to adulthood for many young care leavers is shorter, steeper and often more hazardous.’ (Stein 2005) There is good evidence that support received by young people leaving care can help them to make the transition to adult life more successful, for example, stable placements, good relationships with foster carers, engagement in education including further education, well-planned transitions to independent living and targeted support from leaving care services. However, young care leavers with the most complex needs and the most difficult care backgrounds do less well and continue to need extensive support (Stein 2005).

Evidence also suggests that young care leavers who have good friendship and support networks are happier (Dixon 2008).

Recently published statutory guidance on promoting the health and well-being of looked after children and young people states: ‘  Access to positive leisure activities is vital to well-being and provides opportunities to meet and interact with others, to build social or other skills and self-esteem, to develop friendships and to come into contact with trusted adults.’ (Department of Children, Schools and Families and Department of Health 2009, 10.8)

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 10 Further recently published non-statutory public health guidance about promoting the quality of life for looked after children includes among its recommendations that: ‘  Commissioners of health services and local authority children’s services should commission services that enhance the quality of life of the child or young person by promoting and supporting their relationships with others.’ (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and Social Care Institute for Excellence 2010, p.

17) Looked after young people have poorer mental health than their peers The mental health and emotional well-being of looked after children and a young people is known to be much poorer than their peers in the general population. The most extensive study of the mental health of looked after children and young people (Melzer and others 2002) found that among 11 to 15-year-olds who were looked after 55 per cent of boys and 43 per cent of girls had a mental health disorder. A study of looked after children and young people who had been in care for at least a year reviewed their case files at the point of entry into care and identified that at the point 72 per cent of looked after children aged between 5 and 15 had a mental or behavioural problem (Sempik and others 2008).

A later study noted that looked after young people with emotional, behavioural and mental health difficulties make less successful transitions to independent living and that this may lead to difficulties and poor outcomes in adult life (Dixon 2008). Care leavers need support and friendship networks Research tells us that young care leavers with strong friendship networks are more content with their lives. It also reveals that those who have better life skills and social skills feel better about themselves and are more likely to continue to do so a year after leaving care (Dixon 2008).

For looked after young people friendship and support networks may not be strong because: ■ ■ family relationships may be difficult or non-existent ■ ■ they may have moved to a different area – including new schools or colleges ■ ■ they may have experienced placement moves to new foster carers or residential settings, and for some this may have happened several times.

In addition they may lack the skills or confidence to make and keep friends. Learning how to get on with people is something that starts from birth, but for children who have experienced neglect or abuse this learning experience may have been fractured, broken or inconsistent, and in the worst cases children will have learnt to fear relationships and being close to people.

Why focus on relationships and communications skills? 11 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) will provide therapeutic interventions for children and young people with diagnosed mental health problems, which seeks to minimise the effects of earlier abuse or neglect. Yet many looked after young people are just a bit anxious, they don’t make friends easily or conversely they make and lose friends frequently – for many reasons ‘getting on with people’ is difficult for them. However, as they move into adult life ‘getting on with people’ is a key life skill that will make their lives easier – whether they are dealing with services like doctors or banks, staff and students at college, colleagues at work, or simply getting to know the neighbours.

Looked after young people, like everyone else, want to have satisfying personal relationships, to be liked and loved, but they may not have the experience or knowledge to negotiate their way around the complexities of making friends, sustaining friendships and being a good friend themselves. This can make them vulnerable to unhappy and failed relationships, including those that are abusive or manipulative, and lead to them not having a network of supportive relationships around them as they move into adult life. All young people are at a point in their lives when personal relationships – friends and intimate boyfriend/girlfriend relationships – become very important and looked after young people are no exception.

Looked after young people, however, have less support around them to help them make sense of and learn how to negotiate the ups and downs of personal relationships.

Care leavers and loneliness Looked after young people told the Children’s Rights Director for England in a report about young people leaving care, that the worst thing about leaving care is ‘Being on your own (loneliness)’ (Morgan and Lindsay 2006). It is unusual these days for young people to leave home at an early age and it is also unusual for them to end up living alone. Most young people who leave home will go to college or move into shared accommodation with friends. They will also be able to go home whenever they want to and will be welcomed back. This is frequently not the case for looked after young people – the support they have to fall back on may range from phoning a professional during office hours to possibly extended family or foster carers who go the extra mile for the young people whom they have cared for.

It can be lonely and once again leave young carers vulnerable to involvement in unsuitable relationships or to relationships that are not healthy but are preferable to no relationship at all. ‘  Many young care leavers experience loneliness and social isolation as they lose the supportive relationships they had while in care. Leaving Care services regularly report that sustaining friendships is very important for young care leavers and helps them to develop a supportive network.’ (Ryan and Chambers 2008)

12 5 Getting it right – shaping the groups It was thought that it was important to learn from previous work in this area and to have a sound theoretical base upon which to build. A rapid review of the literature on this subject (Turnbull 2008) quickly revealed that there was little published evidence of evaluated programmes run to enhance the communication and relationship skills of young people. Although there is much anecdotal reporting of programmes and projects, there were none that had been thoroughly evaluated, so there is little evidence available to suggest that they were effective.

However, the literature review did usefully highlight the factors that could contribute to the success of such programmes.

These were: 1.  Shape the content of the programme around concepts of resilience and focus on strategies to build resilience. ‘Resilience’ is often described as the ability to cope with and get over difficulties and adversity, which looked after young people will certainly have experienced in their lives. Those who work with looked after young people often say that they lack resilience – they can be easily put off, become downhearted and give up when faced with setbacks, don’t expect very much and lack the belief that things can be different. An international review of research (Newman and Blackburn 2002) identified nine factors that help to build resilience in young people aged 13 to 19.

While some of these factors are clearly outside of the scope of a Relationships Matter project, some could easily be incorporated. Thus opportunities were found to build into the Relationships Matter programme the factors highlighted in bold below: ■ ■ strong social support networks ■ ■ the presence of a least one unconditionally supportive parent or parent substitute ■ ■ a committed mentor or other person from outside the family ■ ■ positive school experiences ■ ■ a sense of mastery and a belief that your own efforts can make a difference ■ ■ participation in a range of extracurricular activities

Getting it right – shaping the groups 13 ■ ■ the capacity to reframe adversities so that the beneficial, as well as the damaging, effects are recognised ■ ■ the ability – or opportunity – to ‘make a difference’ by helping others or through part-time work ■ ■ not to be excessively sheltered from challenging situations that provide opportunities to develop coping skills. 2.  Successful programmes are SAFE. The second factor was based on a US study of 73 after-school programmes aimed at enhancing personal and social development of children and young people (Durlak and Weissberg 2007). It found that effective programmes provided: S a sequenced set of activities to achieve skill objectives A used active forms of learning (they tried it out rather than were just told about it) F focused on developing or learning personal or social skills E an explicit focus on targeting personal or social skills.

This meant that the programme needed to be clear about the skills it was seeking to help the young people develop, to offer them opportunities for active learning and to be specifically about relationship and communication skills.

3.  Emotional literacy programmes offer detailed curriculums that include communication and relationship skills. Programmes such as the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) running in schools in England have much to offer. For example, SEAL focuses on the development of social and emotional skills in five areas: self-awareness, managing feelings, empathy, motivation and social skills. Other programmes such as those used in youth work, juvenile justice programmes and domestic violence programmes (for example, the Women’s Aid ‘Expect Respect’ Education toolkit for children and young people, and National Children’s Bureau’s Life Routes) have all developed programmes that can be used or adapted for Relationships Matter groups.

These are included in Appendix 2: Useful websites and resources.

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 14 4.  Initiatives that link communication and relationship skills building to purposeful activities have been successful. This means that although young people want to participate in activities that are ‘real’ and have a purpose in their own right, it is possible to ‘bolt on’ a communication and relationship skills element. So, for example, the Relationships Matter pilot projects focused on activities such as making an animation film, planning and enjoying a Halloween party, a graffiti art project, and trips out to use climbing walls and other adventurous activities.

The activities had a purpose in their own right.

5.  Focus on activities where young people work collectively to make a difference – this can assist emotional well-being. There is good evidence (Margo and Sodha 2007) that involvement in extracurricular activities in group settings can lead to improved emotional well-being in children and young people. Involvement in group activities that have clear aims and something to work towards – for example, a performance – have been shown to be have a beneficial effect on the development of personal and social skills. The children and young people find that their actions impact on the world around them.

There are several reports of projects that sought to develop young people’s creativity, but found that they also developed their social skills in the process (Wright and others 2006). This neatly links with the resilience concept of self-mastery and that your own efforts can make a difference. 6.  Ensure young people are responsible for decision- making throughout. Looked after young people repeatedly say how important it is for them to be listened to, involved in decisions made about them and to have a say about what happens in their lives. Children in Care councils introduced by the Care Matters White Paper (HM Government 2007) support this principle and provide a platform for looked after young people to say about what they think of the services provided for them.

Children and young people’s participation is one of the underpinning principles of the healthy care standard (www.ncb.org.uk/healthycare).

All three pilot projects worked closely with the young people to make sure they were able to choose which activities they wanted to try, and that they were actively involved in all aspects of the project, including evaluating it (see Section 6).

15 6 What happens in Relationships Matter groups Relate has extensive experience of working with young people on their communication and relationship skills in a variety of settings, from schools to youth offending services. A network of local centres around the country can provide trained and accredited Relate practitioners, many of whom are trained counsellors.

Local Relate centres provide a management, supervision and training structure for their practitioners. This is a considerable resource that is rarely considered by looked after children’s and leaving care services yet can have much to offer.

Relationships Matter groups are not therapeutic interventions; they are designed to provide safe and practical opportunities for young people to learn about and practise their communication skills. The Relate practitioners brought a range of skills and experience to the pilot groups about how to explore what happens in relationships and reflect on how we communicate with each other. Working alongside looked after children’s workers who knew the young people, the Relate practitioners were able to seize opportunities to enable the group to think and talk about how communication affects relationships.

The practitioners acted as role models, gave information, encouraged non-threatening reflection about what was happening and created opportunities for young people to try out different ways of behaving and communicating. The work on communication and relationship skills was ‘implicit’ – that is, the explicit focus of the group was the chosen activity or task such as making a film – but the learning about communication happened as part of each session’s activity. The Relate practitioners worked flexibly to respond to opportunities for learning about communication as they arose. By building relationships with the young people, they were able to explore and demonstrate what happens in everyday communication and draw on their skills to support the young people when they tried different ways of behaving and communicating.

Relate’s approach to working with young people is based upon its intention to: ■ ■ create an environment in which it is safe enough to share ■ ■ offer skills that can be learnt and practised ■ ■ encourage self-awareness ■ ■ encourage understanding of others’ experiences and thoughts and feelings

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 16 ■ ■ develop an atmosphere where emotions and thoughts can be safely expressed rather than repressed ■ ■ acknowledge conflict as an ever-present but potentially manageable part of life ■ ■ allow sufficient time for review, reflection and action planning ■ ■ celebrate success! The Relationships Matter programme focused on a number of themes that can be delivered sequentially or mixed and matched according to the needs of a group.

The aim is to build the themes into the group activity so that exploring the themes is done as part of the activity. This provides the young people with opportunities to practise their skills in a real but safe way and reflect on their learning experience.

The themes are a generic starting point only and are used as a springboard for exploring a wide range of communication and relationship skills. Relate practitioners are experienced in working with vulnerable young people and are skilled in using the relationships they develop with the young person to explore communication issues. They have an extensive knowledge of interactive games, quizzes and activities that they can draw upon to explain or practise a skill or illustrate complex issues such as dealing with strong feelings or being sensitive to others. The sample activities described here are indicative only – there are many suitable activities, games and icebreakers that can be used to explore these themes.

Some of these are listed in Appendix 2: Useful websites and resources. The most important point is to be flexible so that activities are tailored to suit the needs, pace and learning styles of the young people. Some groups will enjoy a lot of physical games – for example, the Salford young men’s group relished interactive games and were not keen on talking too much, as described by one young man: ‘  I met new people. I had a lot of fun. I learned something new ... games – I never knew any of the games and how to make a video.’ The Warwickshire group were more interested in talking, but they needed an activity to get them going and launch them into a discussion: ‘  It was fun doing graffiti.

It made you feel how you feel yourself and how others feel in relationships because we talked about words.’

What happens in Relationships Matter groups 17 Table 1: Themes addressed in Relationships Matter groups What am I like? Aims: 1. To encourage the building of supportive and empathic friendships. 2. To explore the effect of peer pressure. Learning objectives: ■ ■ to understand some of the problems that can occur in relationships ■ ■ to identify the qualities of a good friend, and understand what is important to us and our peers ■ ■ to understand how we can develop supportive friendships and how this can help us deal with difficult situations and help others experiencing difficulties. My thinking Aim: 1.

To explore the way we think about ourselves and others. Learning objectives: ■ ■ to understand that people have different ways of seeing themselves and others ■ ■ to understand the difference between positive and negative thinking ■ ■ to practise thinking more positively. Others and me Aims: 1. To encourage young people to examine the way they see the world and assumptions they make.

2. To explore issues of difference and inclusion. Learning objectives: ■ ■ to be able to express and understand our own and our peers’ assumptions and attitudes to others ■ ■ to understand how attitudes and assumptions can influence our behaviours and feelings towards ourselves and others. Getting on with others Aim: 1. To highlight the skills that can help you to get on with people. Learning objectives: ■ ■ to practise listening and speaking skills ■ ■ to recognise the importance of body language and tone of voice in communication ■ ■ to understand the difference between aggression and assertion.

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 18 Sample activity – Icebreaker Five balls You need five small juggling balls. Start by passing the balls one at a time in a random order to group members who say their name as they catch the ball and pass it on to someone else in the group. Continue until everyone has had a go twice. Then explain that you are going to start using more balls and the group needs to see if it can keep five balls going at once. There will be dropped balls – and laughter – so stop and start again. The group will find out that balls can’t be thrown roughly or aggressively as a dropped ball stops the game.

Eventually the group will manage it.

Congratulate them on such good teamwork. This game makes people practise eye contact and be responsive but because it is about passing and catching so many balls, the young people don’t have time to feel anxious or embarrassed. It can be played without saying their names and just passing the balls. Sample activity – What am I like? Good and bad friends You need felt tips and large sheets of paper and somewhere to display them (the floor is fine). In a group the young people will list and discuss the top ten qualities they would like in a friend.

One group did this by drawing life-size outlines of two people and giving them a few cartoon type features – hair, eyes, trainers, etc.

One outline becomes the friend you don’t want and the other the friend you do want – the good and bad friends. The young people are asked to add words – it can be done graffiti style if they like – to describe the qualities of a good and bad friend. The young people can just talk about it and group members or leaders can add the words to the figures.

Take some time to talk about how friends behave and how we behave as friends. What do we value in a friend?

What happens in Relationships Matter groups 19 Sample activity – My thinking Sandwiches You will need the ingredients for  making a range of sandwiches plus a kitchen or preparation space and somewhere for people to wash their hands. Each member of the group is asked to make some sandwiches of their choice. Ask the group to sit together with a cup of tea or coffee and then move the sandwiches around so that everyone has a different sandwich to the one they made – that’s the one they will be asked to eat (unless it is something they hate, obviously).

The activity is about sharing and how to handle something happening that you didn’t choose. Ask the young people to say what they like and don’t like about the sandwiches, but without complaining and trying to use positive ‘I’ statements. So you can’t say: ‘Whoever made this sandwich put too much mayonnaise in it’ but you could say: ‘I like my sandwiches with just a little bit of mayonnaise.’ One group found this activity led to a discussion about what it was like to share with people you didn’t know, for example, in a foster placement or residential children’s home.

Sample activity – Getting on with others The communications cake You will need several large iced cakes and some icing gel pens (the kind for writing on cakes). You could bake the cakes with the group if you have the time and facilities. Ask the group to work in pairs or groups of three to find out how much of communication is about body language, the words we say and our tone of voice. They need to draw the percentages on the cake. Discuss what the real percentages are thought to be. (They are: body language 55 per cent, words 7 per cent and tone of voice 38 per cent.) Cut the cake and eat it! This is a good activity for explaining how communication is about more than just words.

It can lead on to activities where the young people practise recognising the different elements of communication, for example, games where you have to communicate a message to someone without using words.

Young people from the Warwickshire group making sandwiches

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 20 Sample activity – What am I like? Combining rap writing and friendship discussions The Warwickshire group worked with a professional rap artist (who had been looked after himself, which the young people felt made him more understanding of what life was like for them). The aim was for the young people to write and perform their own raps which would be recorded. They also worked with a graffiti artist to design their own artwork to accompany the raps.

The rap artist was present for the session on good and bad friends. He used this as a starting point for writing the raps: What kind of friends do you want? How should a friend behave? What kind of friend are you? This neatly combined the young people’s discussions about what they wanted from friendship with the creative activity of writing a rap that described their thoughts and feelings. They also had to perform in front of the group, overcome nerves and receive praise. On page 22 is an excerpt from one of the raps written by a member of the group.

Sample activity – What am I like? The toilet roll Explain to the group that they are on a desert island.

There is only one toilet roll and in order to take a sheet, they must tell the group one thing about themselves. Keep going as long it seems sensible – and tell them not to make it too personal! Gradually the young people will begin to listen to each other and they tell each other things they haven’t shared before. They practise taking turns and cooperating with each other, and learn that getting to know people means finding out about them and telling them about yourself. Building resilience Relationships Matter groups were informed by the research into factors that can promote resilience in children and young people experiencing transitions.

The groups sought to create opportunities to enhance young people’s experience of these factors and Table 2 below describes this. The groups specifically focused on the factors highlighted in bold, but it could be argued that participating in the groups can contribute to all of the factors.

What happens in Relationships Matter groups 21 Table 2: How Relationships Matter groups can build resilience Resilience factors How Relationships Matter groups can help Strong social support networks. Young people will develop stronger relationships with peers in the group and that may result in new or more friendships. Young people will be supported to have a positive experience as part of a group of peers. The presence of a least one unconditionally supportive parent or parent substitute. Focusing on young people’s relationship skills will help them to potentially develop stronger and more satisfactory relationships with carers, family and others adults involved in their care.

A committed mentor or other person from outside the family. The young people will develop relationships with the adults working with the group. The aim is for the relationship to be an honest and supportive experience, even if it is time-limited. Positive school experiences. Improving young people’s communication and relationship skills and encouraging them to reflect on this will help them to be more confident and competent in getting on with others in all spheres of life, including in school or college. A sense of mastery and a belief that your own efforts can make a difference. Young people will experience trying a challenging activity, find that they can do it and can also make a difference to others doing it.

They will learn that they can change how they communicate and can have better relationships with others. Participation in a range of extracurricular activities. Young people will be encouraged and supported to get involved in positive and challenging activities and to reflect on the benefits of participating. The capacity to reframe adversities so that the beneficial, as well as the damaging, effects are recognised.

The group will be encouraged to overcome difficulties together and to explore how to solve practical problems as well as those thrown up every day in our relationships and communication with others. The ability – or opportunity – to ‘make a difference’ by helping others or through part-time work. Young people will be encouraged to help others within the group and learn about how to be a supportive friend. Not to be excessively sheltered from challenging situations that provide opportunities to develop coping skills. The group activity will have some element of challenge and young people will learn practical ways to cope with difficulties.

The workers will support and guide the young people through difficulties – whether practical and physical or about their emotions and feelings.

Based on the nine factors that help to build resilience in 13- to 19-year-olds listed in Newman, T and Blackburn, S (2002) Transitions in the Lives of Children and Young People: Resilience factors. Interchange 78. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive. Available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2002/10/15591/11950 (accessed 18 September 2011).

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 22 Broken Hearted Love I don’t want a boy who treats me wrong I want a man who writes me a love song I don’t want a boy who shares I want a boy who cares I don’t want a boy who wants a quick fling I want a man who wants the real thing I don’t want a boy who thinks they’re clever I want a man who will love me forever I don’t want a boy who will push me in a puddle I want a man who will give me a cuddle Unsure of emotions What? Where? If? You gotta be mature if you’re gonna get Tiff Emotions rattle just like a medley You have to be strong to be with Tiff I don’t want a boy who thinks he is right I want a man who will be with me all night I don’t want a boy who wants to impress I want a man who will buy me a wedding dress I don’t want a boy who will take me on a joy ride I want a man who will stay by my side Included with the kind permission of the author Tiffany Hedli who participated in the Warwickshire Relationships Matter group

23 7  Building in evaluation The Relationships Matter pilot groups used an evaluation and monitoring framework developed by the Centre for Child and Family Research at Loughborough University. As the groups were pilots it was necessary to learn as much as possible about their progress, what worked and what didn’t. This enabled key learning about how to deliver Relationships Matter groups effectively. It also had the added benefit of providing tools that could be used again in future groups. The Relationships Matter evaluation framework A course delivery summary sheet was completed by the workers delivering the programme after each session.

It was done jointly and enabled them to chart the different themes addressed in the group and assess how well they had been covered. They used it much like a diary to record what happened each week and a quick checklist to review what had been covered session by session. A self-efficacy questionnaire was completed by the young people at the beginning and end of the group. It takes the form of a simple multiple-choice tickbox. A copy can be found in Appendix 3.

Self-efficacy is about how well people think they can complete tasks or handle difficult situations. This links well with the concept of resilience and in particular the focus on self-mastery and believing that your own efforts can make a difference. The self-efficacy questionnaire is a validated tool. It is widely used and there are other data sets available about how different groups of people have scored it, which can be used for comparison. This is valuable as it means the scores for the Relationships Matter groups could be compared with other groups involving young people of a similar age.

It is also flexible so, for example, five extra questions were added that related directly to the Relationships Matter programme. The questionnaire was analysed anonymously.

Some young people completed the questionnaire themselves, others did it with the help of a worker, and the young people in one group did it as a game to make sure everyone understood the questions (but they still completed their own forms). The questionnaires can also be downloaded from http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~health/selfscal.htm (accessed 5 September 2011). Young people who took part in the Relationships Matter groups showed a positive change in terms of self-efficacy – although small, it was significant both for the general questionnaire and for the extra Relationships Matter questions.

It must be

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 24 said that the young people did not always find the questions easy to understand, and if the questionnaire is used again, it may need to be amended. However, the young people did not object to completing it. A photo elicitation activity was incorporated into the groups. The young people were invited to photograph their activities week by week. They were each given a disposable camera, but a digital camera could just as easily have been used, had one been available.

At the last session of the group the young people reviewed their photographs and discussed them.

The workers used this as an opportunity to revisit the previous week’s different activities and experiences of the group and asked the young people to answer three questions to help tell a story about the group: ■ ■ What I did ■ ■ What I liked ■ ■ What I didn’t like. This activity was overwhelmingly successful. The young people enjoyed taking the photos and talking about them, and engaged enthusiastically in describing what they had done. All the young people were given copies of their photos to keep. It was necessary to ask the young people (and their parents/carers if appropriate) for permission to have their photos taken.

Care must always be taken when using photography: there are issues for some looked after young people about whether or not they may have their photos taken. This should be addressed at the planning stage; you need to be very specific about what the photos will be used for and where they may be displayed or reproduced. Ask the local looked after children’s service if it has a policy and a photo permissions form about photography and abide by this. What the young people said: ‘  ... it’s gone so quickly. It’s a short time, only 7 days. I want more, 2 months, 3 months ...’ ‘  It was good working with a group who were in the same situation as each other [being in care] as I felt I could talk more openly and feel comfortable.’ ‘ The climbing wall helped improve my confidence.’

Building in evaluation 25 What the children’s services workers and other partners said: ‘  The young people enjoyed spending time together and doing activities. The film making was very positive. The young people enjoyed achieving something in a short time. The celebration meal and presentation at the end of the course was really positive for the young people. The quality time that workers and young people spent together strengthened the relationships.’ ‘  The Relate staff were extremely helpful and enthusiastic and coped with the demands of the group really well. They were really committed to the task at hand and built some really positive relationships with the young people.’ ‘  One young person has really calmed and his attitude towards staff is much improved.’ ‘  I think this is a fantastic project/idea that should be rolled out across the country.

I have worked as a residential social worker for over seven years and young people in care are often not catered for and more often than not they slip through every net there is. People need to work with young people with complex needs in a creative and positive way and give them the independency skills needed to survive and reach their potential. I am very pleased to have been involved in the pilot.’ What the Relate practitioners said: ‘  Anyone working on this course needs to not only have an understanding of attachment but some experience of working with teenagers and preferably those who are in care as well.’

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 26 ‘  This was a challenging but positive experience. The young people were lovely but quite demanding! The workers need to have a strong relationship with each other so they can support each other with the delivery of material and also be there for a debrief after each session.’ Finally, a foster carer described how a young person’s behaviour had changed since taking part in a Relationships Matter group. Although she could not say whether the two were definitely connected, she thought something had changed in how he managed his behaviour.

She explained how he behaved following a serious let-down about an activity he really wanted to do: ‘  He was extremely disappointed, but kept himself together until he got in the car and then he sobbed quietly and when we got home he didn’t go off in a strop, he asked if he could go and help with his friends ponies, which he did, and when he came back he was his usual reasonable self, having talked it over sensibly with the ponies’ owner (a mature lady in her late 50s) and the ponies! In the past, that level of disappointment would have led to a ”full blown” strop. He would have started crying and howling almost instantly and this would have gone on for more than an hour, and he would have stamped upstairs, banged on all the doors and he would have verbally abused everyone in his way.’ She went on to say: ‘  I will tell you that R—, didn’t really want to do this course ...

We asked him to go to the first meeting and give it a go, which he did. When he came back he seemed to have had a good time, and at the end of the course I asked him if he had learnt anything, and he replied that he didn’t think so.’ The Relationships Matter workers reported that this young person had excellent attendance and was a very enthusiastic participant throughout; he also asked if the group could go on for longer.

27 8  Planning and delivering a Relationships Matter group The key factors for the successful delivery of Relationships Matter groups have been identified by the pilot projects and the evaluation of Relationships Matter. Stage 1: Preparation and planning 1. Form a strong local partnership The most crucial factor is to develop a good local partnership between looked after children’s services/leaving care services2 and local providers such as Relate.3 It is important to find a local partner who has experience of working with vulnerable young people – and specifically of looked after young people – and of delivering communications and relationship skills training.

Youth workers, social workers, mental health professionals, counsellors and teachers may have the necessary experience and skills but be sure they can focus on communication and relationship skills too because Relationships Matter is about more than having a good time and participating in group activities. The involvement of a senior manager within looked after children’s or leaving care services is essential. They need to understand what the group is about and give senior level approval. They can act as a champion for the group within looked after children’s services and will have a good overview of who within children’s services might be best placed to support or develop a Relationships Matter group.

They can also help to negotiate around issues such as budget, resources and staffing and will also be able to help should difficulties arise or unexpected issues need to be resolved. They will be particularly interested in the outcomes of the group – what difference did it make to the young people who took part? This evidence of impact will be important in helping senior managers see how to make Relationships Matter work more sustainably in the long term so that it is more than just a one-off event.

2 To find out more about looked after children’s services visit http://www.C4EO.org.uk and explore the vulnerable children section. See also http://www.thewhocarestrust.org.uk/pages/whos-who-in-the-care- system.html for a description of ‘who’s who in the care system’. 3 Relate centres have trained counsellors and practitioners and the support of a nationally accredited organisation with quality standards and supervision for staff. There may be other local organisations that can deliver a similar programme for example young people’s counselling services or third sector organisations with expertise in young people’s services.

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 28 2.  Make sure the delivery team has the right experience, skills and support Looked after children and young people have had complex and difficult life experiences. It is essential that practitioners working on the communication and relationship skills part of Relationships Matter groups have specific knowledge and understanding of this. The external evaluation of Relationships Matter recommended that workers must have either appropriate training or previous experience of working with looked after children and young people.

See Appendix 2 for useful resources about the lives of looked after children and young people.

The pilot groups found that those practitioners who had previous experience of working with looked after children in other professional roles were better prepared and more confident in delivering the programme. They were aware that although looked after young people had much in common with other vulnerable groups their needs and experiences of becoming and being looked after made them quite different too. A Relate practitioner commented: ‘ ... it is the most challenging course I have tried to deliver in terms of time and emotions.’ The Relate practitioners who took part in the pilot groups all thought that having knowledge and understanding of theories such as attachment were essential for working with this group of young people.

They found they needed to be highly sensitive to a whole range of issues and potential issues, for example, discussing friendships within a group where some members may have no friends and others may have had experiences of being abandoned, neglected or abused by those closest to them. The Relate practitioners found they needed all their skill and ingenuity to make such issues as friendship safe to explore and find a way for young people to try out different behaviours. Relate practitioners all have management and clinical supervision skills that aim to ensure Relate’s quality and safety standards are met.

It is strongly recommended that all groups endeavour to have practitioners with these skills.

The pilot groups benefited enormously from working as a team with looked after children’s services staff or staff from related services such as looked after children’s youth workers. They knew the young people and already had a relationship with them. This meant that they were able to deal with practical issues such as liaison with carers and social workers, sorting out permissions to attend activities, arrangements for getting to and from the group and following up young people who missed sessions or needed some extra support if a problem arose in their life while they were part of the group.

The groups worked best when the Relate practitioner and looked after children’s staff member/s planned the group together and met regularly before, during and after the group so that it was a joint enterprise. It had the added benefit of increasing the capacity and confidence of looked after children’s staff to work on communication and relationship issues and enabled Relate practitioners to extend their knowledge and experience of working with looked after children and young people.

Planning and delivering a Relationships Matter group 29 3. Identify a funding stream The main cost for Relationships Matter groups – from looked after children’s services and from Relate or a similar organisation – is staff time. The time it takes to plan these groups must not be underestimated and is key to their success. The costs of the pilot groups based on a six-week group Two Relate workers: time spent on planning and delivery – £2,000 One or two looked after children’s services workers: time spent on planning and delivery – local costs Photography: disposable cameras for each young person plus developing (it can be cheaper to use digital cameras, this means that young people don’t have their ‘own’ camera to record what they wish and when they wish) – £100 Activities – £1,000 Transport costs – dependent on location and activity NB: Both the Salford and Warwickshire groups had budgets of £1,000 each for activities, including transport, a day trip out to an exciting activity, and a celebration meal (Warwickshire) and an award ceremony and film viewing (Salford).

Remember, we recommend that the group should run for 12 weeks so costs will be increased accordingly.

The group will need funding to pay for: ■ ■ The activity, venue and young people’s travel costs if required. This may already be covered with an existing group. ■ ■ Relationships Matter practitioners, whether from Relate or another organisation, will need to include as much planning and preparation as delivery time as the group must be designed to match the young people’s needs. ■ ■ A looked after children’s service representative to work with the young people alongside the Relationships Matter practitioner. They will deliver the programme and link up with the young people before and after the group.

This person may already be available and able to do this as part of their existing role – for example a looked after young people’s participation worker or a residential child care worker. ■ ■ Any special activities planned for the group – for example, a celebration at the end of the activity, certificates, etc. This is strongly recommended for all groups. ■ ■ Photography will be part of the group activity. It can be cheaper if a digital camera is made available to the group.

■ ■ Catering, food and drinks. Starting a session with a drink and a snack or perhaps sharing a meal together at some point is a good idea. It will depend on the needs of each group.

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 30 4. Start planning Relationships Matter groups needs careful planning. The pilot groups found it took longer to plan what would happen than to deliver it. Planning tasks will include the following. Liaising with looked after children’s services to explain the project and gain the right permissions to run the group.

This is important as looked after young people are the responsibility of ‘corporate parents’ - the elected members and senior children’s services officers who have the ultimate responsibility for the welfare of looked after children. Therefore a senior looked after children’s services officer will need to be informed about the proposal and to give their permission as ‘corporate parents’ for the looked after young people to be involved.

The practical issues of funding and arranging for the involvement of a looked after children’s or leaving care service worker to be involved needs to be addressed at an early stage. It may even be that funding needs to be applied for, in which case there will need to be clear and developed plans about what funding is required and what the project will comprise. Identifying a potential group of looked after young people who would benefit from a Relationships Matter group. Relationships Matter is aimed at young people between the ages of 14 and 18. There might be an existing group or a new group could be formed specifically to undertake an activity combined with the Relationships Matter programme.

However, new groups will take longer to set up. It is important to avoid times such as exam periods as the young people need to attend every session if possible. Discussing the group with young people in order to identify potential activities or a focus of the group. They may have ideas of their own – the Portsmouth pilot group came up with the Halloween party idea and the Salford and Warwickshire groups said they were interested in trying different activities and in sharing meals together. The Relationships Matter part of the group was described as being a chance to make friends and learn about how to get on with people.

Clarifying roles and responsibilities such as who is responsible for getting young people to and from the venue, or who will deal with any difficulties that may arise – for example, bad or disruptive behaviour, liaising with foster carers or residential children’s home staff if necessary, following up young people who may need extra support, etc. Be clear who is responsible for the Relationships Matter part of the programme and who is responsible for the group activities. Planning and organising the programme as the activities often need a lot of pre-planning, from booking venues to ensuring materials are available at the right time.

Someone has to take responsibility for this and it is time consuming. The Relationships Matter element can to some extent be planned in advance but will need to be regularly reviewed after each session. The aim is for the group to learn about communication and relationship skills and to build on this week by week. However, some groups will need to do more work on one theme than another – and this flexibility and responsiveness to young people’s needs is vital. It is necessary to address the subject of the ending at the beginning of the programme – this is a short intervention and young people need to know it will end at a specific point.

Reviewing how you will evaluate the group will help to monitor whether the group is achieving its aim of helping young people to improve their communication and relationship skills and show commissioners how successful the group has been. There are some ideas for this in Section 7.

Planning and delivering a Relationships Matter group 31 Informing young people and carers about the group includes dealing with practical details like when and where the group will take place as well as completing any permission forms that are required to enable young people to take part or checking if there are any special needs or other issues to be taken into account.

This may also include acquiring photo consent forms. Keep the permissions as simple as possible but be guided by children’s services partners.

Stage 2: Delivering a Relationships Matter group Group size The pilot projects found that groups of between six and eight young people are ideal. Relationships Matter groups are about creating opportunities for young people to try out their communication skills and get feedback about how they did. The larger the group, the more likely it is that this intensive focus will be lost. The Salford pilot group got around this to some extent by splitting the group so half of the young people worked on the animation project for half the session (which still had a focus on relationships – it was about respect and what that means in relationships) and then took part in Relationships Matter group games for the other half of the session, which focused on listening to each other, taking turns, cooperating and teamwork.

Venue It needs to be easy to get to, comfortable and to be safe. One pilot group experienced problems with other young people who were using the venue; another found that using a space that was also a young people’s drop-in centre led to many interruptions. The group does need to be undisturbed to enable them to focus. It is helpful to have access to a kitchen and equipment to cook with or even just prepare a light snack such as sandwiches. Sharing a meal was an important part of some of the groups. Length of the group The pilot groups ran for between six and eight weeks, meeting weekly. The evaluation clearly identified that this was not long enough – and that 12 weeks was thought to be a more realistic time in which to deliver such a programme.

Unfortunately, time and budget constraints prevented the pilot groups from testing this out, but they all thought that they would run the groups for longer if they did it again. All the groups built in some days out so that they spent a longer period of time together, which provided opportunities to strengthen relationships and to practise skills. Activities This was one of the most important aspects of the group and was rated very highly by the young people. Activities need to be challenging, interesting and provide something different. The evaluation found that young people liked trying new activities and learning new skills – for example filming, playing team games at a gym or scaling a climbing wall.

It is important to work towards a final aim so that there is a purpose to the group rather than a stream of weekly activities – the activities should culminate in a final product or event. All of the groups included some element of eating together – they found that this was a nurturing activity and presented many opportunities for the development of relationship and communication skills. Building in an external visit to an exciting local activity of the young people’s choice helps to keep them engaged and introduces them to new local activities.

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 32 A worker from the Warwickshire group described the climbing wall activity: ‘  For each person attempting … the three climbs was a huge challenge and they all managed their fears of anticipation, and jelly legs and queasy stomachs. Each of them pushing themselves further than they thought and reflecting that the encouragement from everyone else helped them to do this.’ Make time to review each session All of the staff involved in the group need to review and reflect on each session: what worked well and what didn’t, what needs reinforcing, what should the next session focus on and who will do what.

This ensures that everyone knows what is happening and what their role is and that each session is delivered at the right pace for the young people and reflects their needs. The aim is to deliver the content the young people need rather than all the content possible.

Evaluation and photography The pilot groups took photographs throughout the sessions and used these at the end to evaluate the group with the young people. (In most groups the young people themselves were the photographers but sometimes they asked the staff to photograph them.) The photos served as a record of what had happened over the course of the group and provided rich material for discussing with the young people what they liked, didn’t like and what they thought was important about the group. Young people kept their photographs as a record of their time with the group and really appreciated this.

Make sure that permission has been given for young people to be photographed. There is more about evaluation methods in Section 7. Stage 3: Evaluation and endings Exit strategy The group is a time-limited intervention. Working towards a final product or event reminds the young people that the programme will come to an end, but you need to keep planning for the ending. Young people will form relationships with the practitioners delivering the programme and especially with one-off groups they will have started to make friends with each other and might want to continue these friendships. Looked after young people have a lot of people coming in and out of their lives and so it is important to be clear with them what the group is about: a fun and challenging activity group with a focus, a chance to make friends and learn how to get on better with people – but it is time limited.

Follow-up support for young people It is possible that issues may have arisen in the course of the group that indicate a young person may need extra support. The worker involved from looked after children’s services or leaving care services should ensure this is followed up. Evaluation Don’t forget to review the evaluation findings. The photo diary activity will enable the young people to record what they did and to describe what they thought about it. This may be of interest to corporate parents and commissioners of services but make sure the young people have given permission for it to be shared more widely.

Planning and delivering a Relationships Matter group 33 At a strategic level the findings of the evaluation may be useful in demonstrating how looked after children’s services are meeting statutory guidance requirements and priorities in local plans such as the joint strategic needs assessment for the area. It is therefore important to make sure that senior managers are informed about the group and its outcomes. It will also help the team who delivered the group to reflect on what was successful and what they may need to change for future groups. Sustaining local partnerships and relationships In developing a local partnership to deliver a Relationships Matter group, it is likely that local organisations will have shared much information and experience and learnt a lot about each other and how best to work together.

This is valuable information as it takes time for organisations to learn to work well together, develop trust and confidence. Keep in contact and share news, as new opportunities arise all the time. Being able to get up and running quickly can be an advantage and may lead to looked after children and young people having access to a wider range of local services.

34 References Department for Children, Schools and Families and Department of Health (2009) Guidance on the Health and Wellbeing of Looked After Children. Available at: http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/ PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_108501 (accessed 5 September 2011). Department for Education (2010) First Statistical Release. Children looked after in England (including adoption and care leavers) year ending 31 March 2010. Available at: http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000960/index.shtml (accessed 20 September 2011).

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Melzer, H and others (2003) The Mental Health of Young People Looked After by Local Authorities in England. London: The Stationery Office. Morgan, R and Lindsay, M (2006) Young People’s Views on Leaving Care. London: Office of the Children’s Rights Director. Available at: https://www.rights4me.org/reportView.cfm?id=6&startRow=51 (accessed 5 September 2011). National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and Social Care Institute for Excellence (2010) Public Health Guidance: Promoting the quality of life for looked after children and young people. London: NICE/SCIE. Available at: http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/PH28 (accessed 5 September 2011).

References 35 Newman, T and Blackburn, S (2002) Transitions in the Lives of Children and Young People: Resilience Factors. Interchange 78. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive. Available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2002/10/15591/11950 (accessed 5th September 2011). Ryan, M and Chambers, H (2008) Promoting the Health of Young People Leaving Care. London: NCB. Available at: http://www.ncb.org.uk/healthycare/resources/healthy_care_briefings.aspx (accessed 5 September 2011). Sempik, J, Ward, H and Darker, I (2008) ‘Emotional and behavioural difficulties of children and young people at entry to care’, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 13, 2, 221–33.

Sempik, J and Munro, ER (2010) Relationships Matter: An evaluation of a communication skills course for young people. (Unpublished) Loughborough: Centre for Child and Family Research. Stein, M (2005) Resilience and Young People Leaving Care. Overcoming the odds. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Available at: http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/185935369x.pdf (accessed 5 September 2011). Turnbull, A (2008) A Rapid Literature Review to Inform the Relationships Matter Project on Developing Communication and Relationship Skills with Looked After Young People and Care Leavers aged 14–18 years.

(Unpublished) London: NCB. Wright, R and others (2006) ‘Effect of a structured arts program on the psychosocial functioning of youth from low-income communities’, Journal of Early Adolescence, 22, 2, 186–205.

36 Appendix 1 Relationships Matter Project Advisory Group members Professor Mike Stein (Chair) Research Professor, Social Work Research and Development Unit, The University of York Helen Chambers Principal Officer, National Children’s Bureau, Health and Well-being Cathy James CSIP/CAMHS Regional Development Worker, London region Liz Allan Acting Chair of the Royal College of Nursing, Looked after Children Nurses Special Interest Group Anna Martinez Sex Education Forum Lucy Emmerson Interim Coordinator – Sex Education during Anna Martinez’ absence Dale Meegan Director of Services and Practice, Relate Central Office Alan Thomas (for the first part of the project) Life Skills Manager, Relate Central Office Jamie Murdoch (for the second part of the project) Children and Young People’s Development Manager, Relate Central Office Mary Ryan Healthy Care Programme Consultant and NCB Associate Sue Tuckwell Relate Consultant Dr Joe Sempik (occasional attendance) Centre for Child and Family Research, Loughborough University Emily Munro (occasional attendance) Centre for Child and Family Research, Loughborough University

37 Appendix 2 Useful websites and resources Websites www.anationalvoice.org A National Voice An organisation run by and for care-experienced young people that aims to create positive changes to the care system in England and provides a national platform to hear the voices of children and young people who are looked after. www.c4eo.org.uk Centre for Excellence in Outcomes for Children and Young People Information and resources about looked after children and young people, including a section on how to improve the emotional health and well-being of looked after children, practice examples and an e-learning resource about looked after children and young people.

www.ncb.org.uk National Children’s Bureau Information, downloadable resources, publications training, and links about children’s services. www.ncb.org.uk/healthycare Healthy Care programme Information about the Healthy Care programme, how to promote the physical, mental and emotional health of looked after young people, with downloadable resources. www.ncb.org.uk/ncercc NCB residential child care Information and resources on good practice in residential child care. www.leavingcare.org The National Care Advisory Service Information and resources on leaving care for young people and professionals.

www.nya.org.uk The National Youth Agency Information and resources on informal education for young people. www.selfharm.org.uk Information for young people who self-harm, their friends and families, and professionals working with them. This site contains sensitive information.

www.relate.org.uk Relate Information about Relate services across the country for children, young people and families. www.relateforparents.org.uk Relate for Parents Free online relationship advice and information for families, including downloadable resources.

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 38 www.rights4me.org The Office of the Children’s Rights Director, hosted by Ofsted The Children’s Rights Director listens to children and young people who live away from home and publishes regular reports on children and young people’s views on being looked after.

www.thewhocarestrust.org.uk Who Cares? Trust Information, advice and campaigning for looked after children and young people, including a young people’s magazine.

www.thesite.org/healthandwellbeing Health and wellbeing Information and advice for young people on issues including mental health and well-being. www.youngminds.org.uk Young Minds Advice, information, training for young people, their parents and carers and professionals on a range of mental health and well-being issues. Also a telephone helpline for young people concerned about their mental health. Useful resources The Centre for Excellence and Outcomes in Children and Young People’s Services The ‘vulnerable children’ section covers how to promote emotional health and well-being for looked after children and young people and includes two videos about the transition from care to independence.

www.c4eo.org.uk Healthy Care briefings about looked after children and young people on key health topics with signposting to further resources. Briefings include: — — Arts in partnership to promote health (2006) — — Bereavement and loss and children and young people in care (2007) — — Mental health (2005) — — Secure attachment promotes health and well-being (2006) — — Promoting the health of young people leaving care (2008). London: National Children’s Bureau. Available at: http://www.ncb.org.uk/healthycare/resources/healthy_care_briefings.aspx (accessed 5 September 2011).

Health Activities Resource Pack by National Youth Agency (2007). Over 60 activities tested by young people, covering broad areas of health such as healthy lifestyles, mental and emotional well-being, healthy relationships and sex. Leicester: The National Youth Agency. Ice Breakers. Warm up activities for young people by Vanessa Rogers (2003). Instructions for 26 icebreaker games for young people aged 11 to 16. Leicester: The National Youth Agency. Life Routes A life-skills programme, developed to raise levels of young people’s self-confidence and awareness of their own potential through project and team-based learning.

Resources from the programme can be downloaded at: www.liferoutes.org.uk (accessed 5 September 2011).

Useful websites and resources 39 Mind. Emotional health and well-being activities for young people by Vanessa Rogers (2007). This activity pack comprises five sections – warm-up activities; exercises that specifically address emotional well-being; anxiety and stress; expressing feelings and emotions; and ideas for reviewing and reinforcing learning. Leicester: The National Youth Agency. Promoting Resilience: Supporting children and young people who are in care, adopted or in need by Robbie Gilligan (2009). London: British Association for Adoption and Fostering.

Resilience and Young People Leaving Care.

Overcoming the odds by Professor Mike Stein (2005). York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Available at: http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/ files/jrf/185935369x.pdf (accessed 5 September 2011). The Good Games Book. Group activities for young people by Vanessa Rogers (2003). Games, role-play and teamwork to help young people develop their social skills, interact more effectively, and have fun. Leicester: The National Youth Agency. Understanding Why by Mary Ryan. Understanding attachment and how this can affect education, with special reference to adopted children and young people and those looked after by local authorities.

London: National Children’s Bureau. Available at: http://www.ncb.org.uk/ncercc/ncercc%20practice%20documents/ncercc_ understandingwhy_nov06.pdf (accessed 5 September 2011). Women’s Aid Expect Respect Education Toolkit Although designed for schools, this toolkit can be used in a variety of settings. Activities are provided for primary and secondary school pupils. Available at: http://www.womensaid.org.uk/page.asp?section=0001000100280001&sectionTitle= Education+Toolkit (accessed 5 September 2011).

40 Appendix 3 Self-efficacy questionnaire The following excerpt from the Relationships Matter evaluation by Dr Joe Sempik and Emily Munro of the Centre for Child and Family Research at Loughborough University explains the background to using this questionnaire. ‘Self-efficacy’ is a person’s belief that they can complete a task successfully or overcome adversity (see Bandura 1994). It is frequently applied to specific situations, for example, someone’s belief that they can give up smoking (see, for example, DiClemente and others 1985). However, a generalised form of self-efficacy questionnaire has been developed by Schwarzer and Jerusalem (1995) as a 10-item form.

The authors have also made available, for download from their website,4 a raw data file (in SPSS format) of the results of 18,000 respondents from around the world.

The format of the general self-efficacy questionnaire allows additional questions to be included that are specific to the context of the research. In this case five additional questions relating to relationships and interactions were added. Therefore, two scores were produced – a total score for all 15 questions and the score for questions 1 to 10 which could be compared directly with normative values for young people aged under 18. Analysis of the results of the questionnaire for the two pilot groups who completed them (Portsmouth and Warwickshire) showed that young people demonstrated a small but statistical improvement in self-efficacy.

The evaluators noted that the self-efficacy questionnaire could be useful in identifying needs at the beginning of a group and of measuring ‘distance travelled’ for individuals. It should be noted that some groups may find the questionnaire difficult, for example, those with low literacy levels or for whom English is not their first language (although it is available in 33 languages). References Bandura, A ‘Self-efficacy’, in Ramachaudran, VS (ed.) (1994) Encyclopedia of Human Behaviour, Vol. 4, pp. 71–81. New York: Academic Press.

DiClemente, CC, Prochaska, JO and Gibertini, M (1985) ‘Self-efficacy and the stages of self-change of smoking’, Cognitive Therapy and Research, Vol. 9, 2, pp. 181–200. Schwarzer, R and Jerusalem, M (1995) ‘Generalized self-efficacy scale’, in Weinman, J, Wright, S and Johnston, M (eds), Measures in Health Psychology: A user’s portfolio. Causal and control beliefs. Windsor: NFER-Nelson, pp. 35–7. 4 http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~health/selfscal.htm

Self-efficacy questionnaire 41 The questionnaire completed by the young people for the Relationships Matter pilot project can be found on the following pages.

Relationships Matter – Self-efficacy Questionnaire for Young People Participant: Date: Location: Instructions: Please read each item and place a firm tick in the box opposite which comes closest to how you feel about the statement. 1 I can always solve difficult problems if I try hard enough. Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true 2 I can usually get what I want even if someone says I can’t do or have something.

Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true 3 It is easy for me to stick to what I have decided to do. Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 42 4 I know I can deal well with things that happen unexpectedly. Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true 5 Thanks to my ability (resourcefulness), I know how to handle unforeseen situations. Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true 6 I can solve most problems if I try hard enough.

Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true 7 I am calm when things get difficult because I know how to handle problems.

Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true

Self-efficacy questionnaire 43 8 When I meet a problem I can usually find several ways to sort it out. Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true 9 If I am in trouble, I can usually think of a solution. Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true 10 I can usually handle whatever comes my way. Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true 11 I find it easy to talk to other people.

Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true

How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People – A handbook 44 12 I am able to help my friends when they have problems. Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true 13 I can stand up for myself if others pick on me. Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true 14 I often get angry with other people. Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true 15 I often have difficulty in understanding what other people mean.

Not at all true Hardly (a little) true Moderately (reasonably) true Exactly true

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How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People A handbook How to make Relationships Matter for Looked After Young People A handbook Mary Ryan Mary Ryan Research tells us that care leavers who have good friendships and support networks do better and are happier than those who don’t. Care leavers themselves say that friends are important for them and loneliness is a big worry. Relationships Matter is a tried and tested intervention that helps care leavers learn about and practise communication and relationship skills. Care leavers take part in a group activity that is fun, challenging and aims to build their resilience.

This handbook describes how to set up a local partnership to deliver a Relationships Matter group based on a successful approach developed and piloted by National Children’s Bureau and Relate.

National Children’s Bureau 8 Wakley Street London EC1V 7QE tel +44 (0)20 7843 6000 fax +44 (0)20 7278 9512 Registered Charity Number 258825 Useful numbers Book Sales: 0845 458 9910 Conferences and Training: 020 7843 6041 Fundraising: 020 7843 6329 Information Centre: 020 7843 6008 Membership: 020 7843 6080 Young NCB: 020 7843 6099 www.ncb.org.uk

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