By Chris Morrison, Independent Reviewing Officer. Chris is an IRO at the London Borough of Newham.
On Tuesday 27th August 2019 I held an event for Children who have been in the care system to share their experiences. The event was open for all to attend to listen to what is set to be a National Conversation regarding our young people who have been in care. The event was in two parts; a panel of care leavers and children still in care and also a panel of Children’s social care professionals ranging from Senior Management to Childcare services.
AIMS OF THE EVENT
The purpose and fundamental reason for the event was to start a conversation between the young people and the professionals. More than often we hear stories from young people who have been in care and simply “just need answers”. The aim was for the young people to share their experiences and have any questions they had answered by the professional panel. The night was extremely engaging and sparked a lot of thought provoking questions.
Various young people from the audience where also able to ask questions. One thing that sparked was the misconception young people have of social workers and the social care system. A lot of young people do not have any confidence in the system and feel very let down (to be honest). They feel let down, because the system is driven by procedures and red tape – which they feel ‘de-humanises’ workers from getting to know them on a personal level. This angers and frustrates them.
THE YOUNG PEOPLE
We heard one story of a 25 year old girl Deanesha Meade who has been in care since the age of 6 because of her mother’s mental health.
Her story moved us because we never really think about the impact giving your child away to social services actually has on parents, and also how we as society viewed these parents. Denesha is inspiring and making a remarkable change within her own life and the lives of other young mothers.
THE PROFESSIONAL PANEL
One of the 5 panellist was Lola Fadare who was a looked after child herself and now runs her own successful Semi Independence placement. Lola shared her experience of being placed with a White family being a black girl and how this impacted on her. This resulted in a lot of identity issues and left her with questions in her mind about how she is perceived.
The event has sparked a lot of interest – even Isabelle Trowler (Chief Social Worker for Children & Families) states that she will be at the next one.
ABOUT CHRIS MORRISON
I am currently an Independent Reviewing Officer / Child Protection Chair and have been for the last 2 and half years. The fact that I can advocate for a child or young person gives me so much satisfaction knowing that their voices will be heard. I love to champion good practice and I love the fact that my role as an IRO can do just that. I am very passionate when it comes to working with young people and always love to ensure that their voice is the most important in the room at that particular time. For me, I 100% give the opportunity for children to chair their Looked After Reviews (where possible). This means so much for a child / Young person , by giving them control and a sense of autonomy over their life and decisions that are significant for them.
My passion for children and young people led me to publishing my first children’s story book called ‘ Daddy’s Special Drink’. This book was written to help children who have grown up in homes whereby they have been exposed to alcohol misuse. As a therapeutic story, it aims to help children name the feelings that may have been suppressed for a long time. The character Rio grows up in a home whereby he experiences his father being abusive as a result of alcohol. The book also explains the role of a Social Worker and the process of what happens at Child Protection Conference. It is a very useful direct work toolkit for front line practitioners and anyone who works within children and families.
This is the first book from the ‘Rio&Friends’ series that I will be launching this year. Future story books will include themes of, Sexual Abuse, Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse etc. I am happy to do a small presentation for Children’s Services if you find this helpful.
The book is available to order at all leading retailers such as Amazon, Ebay, Waterstones, WHSmiths and others.
The book is now being used in four UK Local Authorities across their Children’s Services Department.
Please see a recent interview I had with the Social Work News Magazine – https://issuu.com/socialworknews/docs/swn_apr-jun_190417_digital/
3 thoughts on “Guest post by Chris Morrison, Independent Reviewing Officer #IRO #Event”
This is actually amazing, and really wish my IRO would do this.
TWITTER THREAD IN RESPONSE TO THE POSTED PIECE by Twitterers:
Jamie @jamie_crabb 9 Sep “We heard story of 25 year old Deanesha who has been in care since age 6 because of her mother’s mental health. Her story moved us because we never really think about impact giving your child away to social services actually has on parents & how we society viewed these parents” Sharon Martin @SharonLMartin1. 8 Sep Guest post by Chris Morrison, Independent Reviewing Officer #IRO #Event https://niromp.org/2019/09/08/guest-post-by-chris-morrison-independent-reviewing-officer-iro-event/ via @NIROMP2
Jamie @jamie_crabb 9 Sep. “Sad, but in a way not surprised to read that reflection by Chris @SharonLMartin1 Chris’ team could listen to @_LisaCherry & @survivecourt excellent podcast for further #livedexperience perspective on impact of separation on parents”
Lisa Cherry @_LisaCherry 7 Sep. “Episode Twenty Three @survivecourt’ Annie’ on grooming, being in care and surviving safeguarding episode of Trauma | Recovery | Resilience”
Sharon Martin @SharonLMartin1 9 Sep “An individual personal reflection by Chris, unedited & not claiming to be representative of the views of his colleagues. It’s a comment that begs questions I agree, & demands more reflection on why & how this came to be … Agree wholeheartedly with your recommendations Jamie.”
SafeguardingSurvivor @survivecourt 9 Sep “I have some sympathy; I sometimes think it’s a really tough ask for professionals to allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to see things from a parent’s perspective. Not that they can’t or are indifferent, just that it’s hard to do.”
Lisa Cherry @_LisaCherry 9 Sep “It is. It asks us to go within and imagine things we often can’t (and imagine things we often can) through the lens of our own experiences. This requires huge personal exploration, vulnerability and connection with what society may have created as ‘other’.”
Sarah Sivers @SarSivers 9 Sep. “This is something I have been working through myself recently connected to a case I am involved with. Awareness of processes (or lack of them) that I hadn’t considered before, it has really made me reflect on my own privilege, belief systems & preconceptions. It has been humbling”
Sharon Martin @SharonLMartin1 9 Sep “Loads to reflect on Sarah. No process can rectify the cost of human interactions, relationships. Why would anyone want to be perceived, treated as a case? I’m not a case. I’m a person with a history of relationships – some very troubled, contexts, roles … I’m no-ones case …”
Sarah Sivers @SarSivers 9 Sep “I apologise, the use of ‘case’ was not meant to detract or dehumanise those involved. I just wanted to be careful that there were no identifying elements to my tweet. Genuninally thank you for your comment, I will try and tweet with more respect.”
Sharon Martin @SharonLMartin1 Replying to @SarSivers, @_LisaCherry and 2 others
“I’m with you Sarah, I’ve done the same & I’m rightly challenged by that. It’s not at all comfortable. Lovely to be in conversation with you. Thank you. I’m hoping for a lot more spaces to have conversations like these. All the best. Let’s keep in touch, Sharon” 9:10 pm · 9 Sep 2019·Tweet activity 3 Likes
Sarah Sivers @SarSivers 9 Sep Replying to @SharonLMartin1, @_LisaCherry and 2 others“Yes indeed. We learn from making mistakes & having them reflected back for us to be able to understand & grow – even if it is uncomfortable. Very much looking forward to continued connection. Warm wishes. #relationships”
Sharon Martin @SharonLMartin1 9 Sep “Indeed Sarah. Warmest wishes to you too. Sharon”