There are many ways to achieve better outcomes, and we work hard to develop new approaches and innovative solutions that help improve the lives of vulnerable children, young people and adults.
This commitment to innovation has led to us harnessing new technology to better serve those we work with. Examples include our Acorn Digital Learning Platform, a means of delivering high-quality online teaching, and our Youth Voice app, which enables us to truly understand what our children and young people think and feel.
We also build exciting partnerships that help us ensure great outcomes for children and young people. For instance, we’re a national operating authority for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, giving access to this life-changing personal development programme to every young person aged between 14 and 25 in any of our services. Our link-up with the British Exploring Society even gives young people the opportunity to build confidence and learn new skills in locations such as the Cairngorms, the Yukon or the Amazon.
Crucially, our innovative solutions are always integrated with our wider range of services, empowering our teams to deliver the best outcomes in ways that are most appropriate to each individual.
Building Incredible Futures with the British Exploring Society
Innovative partnerships help Outcomes First Group deliver real impact alongside organisations such as the British Exploring Society (BES). By partnering with BES, we provide young people with the opportunity to take part in expeditions across the world in order to build on their personal skills, discover more about themselves as people, and equip them to be able to work well in team situations.
This collaboration has seen 17 young people undertake a nine-day expedition to the Highlands in Scotland, where highly-skilled professionals and outdoor experts guided them on an expedition, including a variety of tasks for the young people to complete each day.
These tasks involved encouraging young people to work on developing skills in eight key areas, including:
- Making decisions that matter
- Managing feelings
- The world and me
- People and me
- Problem solving
- Staying on track
Young people taking part in the programmes and expeditions complete ‘My Compass’, a simple tool that allows them to reflect on the impact of their experience against their chosen goals and track their progress on each trip. The scheme invites participants to complete a self-assessment, helping them identify areas for improvement and set targets for achieving their aspirations beyond the nine-day excursion.
Julie Rickard, Family Outreach Worker for Acorn Education and Care Residential in the South West, who accompanied three young people, said:
“The whole nine days were fantastically organised. Staff who were at basecamp all the time – Toby and Polly – couldn’t help enough. At one point, someone lost their sleeping bag, so they went out at night to give them another one. Nothing was too much trouble.”
David Leatherbarrow, Group Chief Executive of Outcomes First Group, said:
“The British Exploring Society’s expeditions encourage our young people to step outside of their comfort zone, and take on situations that may not be as challenging for others as they are for them. Far too often young people that have experienced care miss out on bigger opportunities, but our partnership with British Exploring Society is designed to change this and ensure they can access life-changing and inspirational experiences.”
Following the success of the Highlands trip, young people had the opportunity to embark on a three-week expedition to either the Peruvian Amazon or the Canadian Yukon in 2019. This trip of a lifetime built on the skills they’d already acquired and provided them with new challenges to conquer.
The Amazon explorers trekked deep into the Peruvian jungle and into the Amazon basin. Within their ‘fires’ (small groups) the young people observed Amazon pink river dolphins, river otters, monkeys, snakes and birds as well as hundreds of mosquitos!
The Canadian Yukon explorers, who experienced the Northern Lights (not just once but twice), said the awe-inspiring landscape and outstanding natural beauty outweighed the physically challenging environment.
There’s no Wi-Fi in the jungle or the mountains, but each and every one of our young people found a better connection with both themselves and each other. The summer of 2019 will stay with them forever!
Our Youth Voice App
We introduced our Youth Voice app in May 2019 in order to make sure we understand whether children and young people using our services are better off, and that our services are meeting their specific needs.
The innovative and interactive digital app allows our schools, foster carers, Supervising Social Workers and those involved in children’s to determine the views of children and young people in our care more frequently and easily.
While monitoring academic performance can be fairly straightforward, Youth Voice enables children to articulate their feelings around topics relating to our promises made in the Children’s Pledge across four key areas:
- Keeping you safe and caring well for you
- Helping you get a good education (achieve and enjoy)
- Helping you be healthy and enjoy life
- Supporting your future and your next adventure
Youth Voice empowers children and young people in our care to contribute to discussions regarding important decisions about their future.
The engaging and easy-to-use web tool lets them use a digital device, such as a tablet or smartphone, to answer several questions using an ‘emoji’ response format, quickly and discretely conveying how they feel emotionally about a number of aspects surrounding their present situation.
The invaluable real-time feedback received from the Youth Voice digital tool provides a greater understanding of the less visible challenges as well as positive outcomes of a successful placement. It enables us to put the right measures and structures in place to fully support every child in our care.
How can we help?
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