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Article taken from Crewe Chronicle, featuring Voice for Children’s Liam Hill telling his story.

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A Crewe man who turned his life around after a tough start was one of the three main speakers at the national Youth Justice Board’s convention. Liam Hill is 24. As a youngster he spent most of his early life in and out of the care system.

But after the opportunity came to run a pilot scheme offering mentoring and participation services to children and young people in or on the cusp of the care system, he turned his life around.

He is now the Director of Voice for Children, an organisation which offers children and young people living in care, and those with experience of the youth justice system, an opportunity to learn about their rights and responsibilities.

Liam recently joined two other speakers at this year’s Youth Justice Convention – the most significant event in the sector’s calendar, sharing stories about how their involvement with knife crime, violence and gang affiliations brought them into contact with the youth justice system.

All three speakers, having completely turned their lives around, now work with other young people at risk of offending.

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Liam said:

“I was placed on a full care order at the age of five and moved around 64 times before I was 21. My behaviour became increasingly disruptive when I was in care and from the age of 10 I was repeatedly arrested for criminal damage – smashing cars and throwing things around.

“The effect of being a 10-year-old in a custody suite is horrible. You get arrested, taken into a cell and questioned by police. It’s scary. I already saw the police very negatively because my parents were in trouble with the law a lot, so my negative feelings for the police were reignited when I started getting in trouble. I got more and more violent and by the age of 17, I’d committed two common assaults.

“My experiences of both the care system and the youth justice system were very negative. I think I was severely let down by the system.

“Staff in the care homes would call the police after something I’d done there, and the police would come and be heavy-handed, pushing me to the ground. I felt the care home needed to address my anger management issues rather than calling the police.

“These negative experiences are what eventually inspired me to change the course of my life and help other young people like myself. I enrolled in college and started doing voluntary work with Cheshire East Council.

“The real turning point came when I was given the opportunity, through the council’s Youth Engagement Service (YES), to run a pilot scheme.

“We started by working specifically in social care within the council doing training, participation and consultancy as voice for children. Whilst doing this the opportunity came to do mentoring and participation within YES.

The scheme I set up with my business partner Jodie, was a success and Voice for Children, Cheshire, is now a fully accredited organisation with AQA, which offers children and young people living in the care system, or in the criminal justice system, an opportunity to be accredited in units such as Maths and English. We also co ordinate our own mentoring service for service users.”

Lord McNally, Chair of the YJB, said: “This year is particularly significant: we have a new Justice Secretary and the potential for a new direction of travel for youth justice.

“It is therefore now more important than ever to hear from those at the cutting-edge of policy developments, as well as from the young people themselves who have experienced the youth justice system first-hand, and whose transformed lives remind us that the good work of those on the frontline must go on.”

Voice for Children conducted a workshop with young people centred around what they think makes a ‘good’ social worker. By the end of the workshop, everybody concluded that some of the key traits for a good social worker were:

  • Professional
  • Able to communicate without being a ‘know it all’
  • Respectful
  • Show belief in young people
  • Able to build a connection
  • Honest
  • Sense of humour
  • Approachable/ Kind

Here are some images of the responses:

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Voice for Children

Could you face the cold of an autumn night with nothing but a sleeping bag and a cardboard mat, to raise money for homelessness charities?

Crewe was one of a number of locations for the Sleep Rough event taking place across the country, with the aim of raising money to support some of the thousands of people who experience homelessness in the UK every year.

Raising money for homeless people 

Homelessness is usually associated with big cities, but every night at least 10 people are known to be sleeping on the streets of Crewe.

Generally, homeless people are those who have nowhere to stay or will have nowhere to stay within the next 28 days. People also considered homeless might:

  • Have no accommodation in this country or anywhere in the world to occupy
  • Have the right to live in a property but cannot gain access
  • Live in movable accommodation, like a boat or a caravan, but with nowhere permanent to moor or park
  • Have accommodation but due to some exceptional circumstances it would unreasonable to continue to occupy this
  • Live separately from someone with whom they would normally reside, because there is nowhere they can live together
  • Have a home, but fear violence from someone.

 

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A large majority of rough sleepers are young and male, many of whom have suffered a relationship breakdown or lost employment. Some may have drug, alcohol or mental health problems. Some are offenders, and an increasing number of former service personnel are being seen. Women account for approximately 20% of rough sleepers. All homeless people are vulnerable.

 

If you have concerns about homelessness, Cheshire East Council’s housing options and support team is available on 0300 1235017 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. Those who find themselves with no accommodation outside of these hours should call 0300 1235025.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights in the world. This violence takes many forms including: physical, sexual and psychological abuse, as well as harmful cultural practices such as forced child marriage. According to the World Health Organization, more than 50 percent of women and girls in some countries experience domestic violence. Almost every day, we hear and read about domestic violence, sexual abuse and “honor” killings. These cases are the ones that make the news; so many more go uncovered, even unreported.

This type of violence has extensive health and social consequences for individuals, families and communities. Violence against women and girls reduces their contributions to development, inflicts costs on national economies and undermines poverty reduction efforts. In short, acts of violence against women and girls prevent individuals, families and whole communities from escaping poverty.

Voice for Children were lucky enough to head to Number 10, London to drop off – by hand – a petition to help stop world violence.

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