21 April, 2016

Talking about social entrepreneurship

We can let our experiences define us, or choose to define our experiences,” says Luke Rodgers, founder of Foster Focus, an organization that challenges the stigmas and labels assigned to children in care in the UK. 
As a care-leaver from the UK foster system, Luke understood a lot from a young age about a broken system. "I pledged to myself that I would dedicate my career to finding ways to give young people more positive outcomes.”
By founding Foster Focus, Luke transformed his experiences into valuable insights for foster care providers and children. Foster Focus challenges the stigmas and labels assigned to children in care that often prevent them from thriving in foster settings. The venture’s peer-to-peer program equips youth with tools to understand their experiences in a positive way. Through the programme, participants develop facilitation and speaking skills, eventually designing their own workshops to share what they’ve learned with their peers.
To address systems-level change, Foster Focus combined theory, policy, and the personal experiences of care-leavers to conduct trainings that help youth-serving institutions better advocate for children’s legal rights and more proactively include children’s voices in decision-making processes. The impact so far: increased awareness of children’s rights among foster agencies as well as over 1,000 youth in care reached through peer-led leadership trainings.
Luke Rodgers’ journey from foster care statistic to champion of systems change was filmed during Generation Now, an event hosted by IYF, Laureate International Universities, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). During the event, young social entrepreneurs from around the globe had the opportunity to share their innovative solutions addressing education, gender equality, youth engagement, and more.
In his story, Luke shared a staggering statistic. "Fifty percent of the UK’s homeless population are people who have left the foster care system." At age 15, Luke was part of that statistic. He slept on trains at night and went to school during the day. Today, he is a 2015 Laureate Global Fellow and recently named Entrepreneur of Excellence by the National Diversity Awards.
Before that, in 2013, he had already been awarded the Children's Achievement Award for his work developing ways to engage with young people in the UK and Europe, as well being awarded Young Social Entrepreneur of the year 2014 by Unltd.
Watch this video to hear Luke talk about Reframing the Narrative of Foster Children in the UK.
Interestingly, he observes : "the more I talked to social workers the less and less I wanted to be one".
To round off with the cherry on the cake: the juxtaposition of social worker's statements on a referral form  next to the real voice and perspective of the young person involved: an eye opener !  

20 April, 2016

Hamburg here we come

Once again, it's spring and time to go on a study trip abroad. 
For the last 5 years, if not more, we've been organising these study visits abroad for our year 2 students of the school of social work. This year the focus here on the blog is on the Hamburg experience  by our students of SPH. 

They put together a nice video where they share what they have experienced. You can watch it here: