Since his appointment as the NFA’s first Children and Young Person’s 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
Launching in October, 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.
Over the next 12 months, Zion will be connecting with more young people and carers at events in London and beyond. And hopefully, some of them will take the step to join him in becoming a dedicated children’s ambassador with NFA.
For more info on our Young Ambassadors Forum call us on 0800 044 3030 or contact us via email.