Since his appointment as the NFA’s first Children and Young Persons Ambassador in May 2018, Zion Zachary has been working hard to make the voices of children heard – working with managers to improve participation and consultation with foster children, to strengthen their voice.
Spearheading the ‘Pledge Project’ alongside NFA senior management, Zion is developing an innovative forum to provide children with a platform from which they can get their voices heard.
The Pledge Project is a set of established commitments, agreed by children themselves, to give the right levels of support throughout their journey in the care system. It’s a special agreement between children and senior managers here at the NFA, and is designed to give young people more of a say over the type of care and support they receive.
Explaining how the Pledge Project was first conceived, as well as how it will work going forward, Zion comments: “It was born out of an idea I had over ten years ago, to give young people in care more of a voice in how certain decisions are made. I wanted to work with managers to create a set of promises that would act as a reference point when making those choices – so that the views of foster children always come first.”
Making young people’s voices heard
The Pledge Project will help ensure all agency decision-making has at the centre the needs of young people in the fostering community. It’s our hope that Zion’s project will help create a stronger partnership between foster children and senior management, so that young people always have a forum in which to share their views.
An example of one of the pledges is the promise that all young people will have access to education and resources up until the age of 25. This is something that Zion is particularly passionate about, having experienced the care system himself, he understands the need for continued support for young people after leaving the secondary education system.
As well as progressing the Pledge Project, Zion has continued to represent young people’s perspectives at various groups within London and the South East, e.g. carers’ forum and Child sexual exploitation group.
And by providing a safe forum where they can make their voices heard or simply share their views and worries, he’s aiming to inspire other young people to join the NFA Children’s Ambassador initiative – and share their experience and expertise with other children in the foster care.
Launching the Pledge in London
Last week saw the culmination of several months' work by the NFA London and SW team's Young Ambassadors Forum (YAF) as the Pledge was formally launched.
The event formed part of the North Achievement Awards ceremony, held at Brunel University on the 19th of February.
Over 40 children, young people and foster carers, witnessed the launch after a motivational talk by former world champion boxer Colin Lyons and female professional fighter, Lucy Wildheart.
The Young ambassadors later met with senior directors at our Uxbridge Office where they formally unveiled the Pledge, to be displayed at the NFA head office.
Registered Manager Tinu Ashaye commented:
'The young ambassadors are leaders of tomorrow and are great examples for others to follow. Zion especially deserves praise for all his hard work with the forum members.'
NFA Group is determined to abide by the promises set out in the Pledge and continue to consult with our children and young people to ensure their voices are heard.
Every child and young person in our care will receive a copy of the pledge and all carers will work with the children in line with the principles it sets out.
For more info on our Young Ambassadors Forum call us on 0800 044 3030 or contact us via email.