Reading Mayor Cllr Deborah Edwards with In our Shoes artwork

Children in care art displayed at Reading Museum

Artwork created by children in care has been put on display at Reading Museum.

A group of young people who live away from their natural parents have given an insight into their lives through the pieces of art called ‘In our Shoes’ and ‘Helping Hands’.

The children and young people, who are part of the Children in Care Council, meet regularly every month to take part in activities together and the pieces of art were created during these sessions.

Reading Mayor Cllr Deborah Edwards visited the display at Reading Museum on Wednesday 30th May and met some of the children who had created the artwork.

The striking ‘In our Shoes’ display was created by the young people using their old shoes. Their introduction to the display explains:

“These shoes show the journey of our life in care. The words explain how we felt going into care, how we feel now.  Our shoes we created show sometimes it was fun and sometimes hard being in care. It was important to us to take time designing and creating our shoes and we wanted people to understand how children in care feel.”

The thoughtful ‘Helping Hands’ pieces have been created by the children to express how they respect and value their foster carers who provide them with a safe and stable home environment. Their introduction to the display says:

“These hands are the hands that have helped us. They are our foster parents who have helped us by looking after us and keep us safe because we can’t live with our families. We would like to thank our foster carers who are amazing.”

One of the young people said after the museum visit:

“I feel thrilled that everybody that visits the Museum gets to see what we have done and understands what it’s like living our life.”

Another said: “It was a good experience to see it myself and made me feel proud that other people would be able to see it.”

Cllr Liz Terry, Lead Councillor for Children’s Services, said:

“Living away from your parents can be a big change and difficult time for children. Things don’t always go smoothly but most children appreciate having someone to care for them.

“Children recognise their foster carer as someone who is there to keep them safe and look after them and they often form great relationships.

“This touching art project has given children in care an opportunity to express their feelings and give a personal view of their journey so far.”

Cllr Sarah Hacker, Lead Councillor for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said:

“Art is a great way for individuals to explore their emotions and to give others an insight into how they are feeling.

“I hope this fabulous project is the start of a great creative relationship between the children in care team and Reading Museum.”

New children’s services company starts formation with selection of name and appointment of Chair

Significant steps have been taken to form the new company which will run Reading’s Children Services.

The company now has a name, a company Chair and a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed to move forward the creation of the organisation. A grant of £2.9m to implement the project has been agreed by the Secretary of State.

Brighter Futures for Children has been chosen as the name for the new company following a consultation involving young people, residents and Council officers across Reading.

The company has started to form its new senior leadership team. Deborah Jenkins MBE DL has been appointed as Chair in a joint decision by the Council, Department for Education (DfE) and the Children’s Commissioner Nick Whitfield.  Ms Jenkins’ experience as Chair for Together for Children in Sunderland will be invaluable in driving improvements in Reading.

The first official steps in the formation of Brighter Futures for Children has been completed as the Memorandum of Understanding has now been signed between Reading Borough Council and the DfE, meaning the company has officially agreed the outline for its terms, requirements and responsibilities.

Plans for the new organisation were developed by the Council in partnership with Nick Whitfield, the government’s Commissioner for Children’s Services, and the Department for Education.

Councillor Jo Lovelock, the Leader of Reading Borough Council, said:

“It is exciting that good progress is being made in setting up the new children’s company which will provide Children’s Social Care, Early Help, Education and Health Services in Reading.

“The creation of Brighter Futures for Children will allow a fundamental change in the way children’s services are delivered in Reading and will build on the tremendous amount of hard work that has already gone into driving the service forward.”

Peter Sloman, Chief Executive of Reading Borough Council, said:

“The formation of the new company for Reading’s children’s services is now building momentum.

“Brighter Futures for Children is set to bring the flexibility for change that is needed in Reading.  I look forward to seeing the company progress in the coming months and welcome the opportunity it will bring to deliver services differently for the children and young people of Reading.”

Ms Jenkins said:

“I’m very excited to be joining the team at Brighter Futures for Children on a journey which will bring real opportunities for the children and young people of Reading.

“My experience of Chairing Sunderland’s children’s services has shown that the independence created by having the new company has brought a real chance to do things with a fresh approach and to be different to what has gone before.

“I’m looking forward to meeting children, staff and partners to understand what’s working and what needs to change.  If we can listen to each other, share ideas and work together, I have every confidence that we can use this once in a generation chance to improve life chances for children.”

Notes to editors

Reading Borough Council has been working closely with the Department for Education (DfE) to drive improvement in Children’s Services following an Ofsted inspection in 2016. DfE appointed Commissioner Nick Whitfield recommended that the Council’s Children’s Services should be transferred to a company, wholly-owned by the Council.

The Council supported the recommendation to establish a company to deliver children’s social care, early help, education and health services.

The aim is to have a shadow company in place by mid-summer 2018 and for the company to go live in October 2018.