This report describes research focusing on the participation of young people growing up in care. The research was carried out as part of the Understanding Everyday Participation- Articulating Cultural Values project. In this work we wanted to understand the ways in which the ‘facilitated’ and ‘everyday’ activities of young people are valued by them, their immediate carers, and the representatives of the corporate parent.
The findings of this research are important in revealing some of the opportunities and barriers to the participation of young people in care in a broad range of cultural and leisure participation. We found that different types of participation are valued differently by carers, representatives of corporate parents*, and young people in care themselves. Following this we found that the ‘everyday participation’ and preferences of young people in care are often overlooked. And yet our findings suggest that where facilitation is embedded and related to the everyday interests and activities of the young person there is an increased likelihood of engagement and participation leading to the established benefits of participation for wellbeing and personal development.
Findings from this research support arguments made in existing research and policy that participation in social, cultural and leisure activities can improve the wellbeing of children and young people growing up in care (Gilligan 1999; Säfvenbom and Samdahl 2000; Fong et al 2006; Gilligan 2007; Care Matters 2007, Hollingworth 2012; Murray 2013 and Quarmby 2014). Participation can have a number of meaningful and important personal and social values. From our research to date a picture is emerging that suggests that this might especially be so in relation to participation in cultural, rather than other kinds of leisure activities, due to the nature of cultural engagement and the opportunities it provides for the construction and reconstruction of life stories.
This report (click right) is intended to be useful to professionals working in social and health services, cultural practitioners, charities and the education sector, along with families, carers and foster carers.
By presenting these findings it is our aim to invite and initiate further research, to stimulate debate, and to effect the provision of culture and leisure services to young people in care.
* A Corporate Parent is an organisation or person, such as social services and social workers, who has special responsibilities to safeguard and promote the life chances of children being looked after.
Corresponding Researcher and Author: Dr Lisanne Gibson, firstname.lastname@example.org