Coram Digest_21-22

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Digest 2021/22





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The past year has been characterised by growing appreciation of how existing challenges facing children and young people have often been amplified by the consequences of the pandemic. During 2021–22, the Coram Group of charities has succeeded against our two key priorities – sustaining services for those who need us most in the face of ongoing Covid-19 disruption, and growing our impact and influence so that we are helping in the longer term to build a better country for children and young people.

Better chances for children today In its 40th anniversary year, Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) has expanded across all areas of immigration, family, community care and education law to seek to ensure that children and families can access the legal information and advice they need. Coram Adoption was once again rated outstanding by Ofsted, who described it as “leading the sector in early permanence and all aspects of adoption work”, and we also celebrated 10 years of our unique adoption activity days, continuing to match children who are waiting the longest with families waiting to adopt. Coram Voice has reached more children and young people in and leaving care than ever before, with specialist advocacy to ensure they are Always Heard, and has expanded its outreach support to young people. Coram Life Education is supporting teachers to secure wellbeing with its growing range of curriculum resources, alongside work to diversify and increase access to Coram Beanstalk reading volunteers in schools, as part of the national recovery. In its 21st annual childcare survey – the most authoritative analysis of the state of childcare in the UK – Coram Family and Childcare (CFC) highlighted just how challenging the situation is for families with young children struggling to find or afford the childcare they need, a situation that is set to worsen given the current economic situation. CFC’s calls for radical change is increasingly being echoed in the ongoing debate on how best we deliver quality, affordable childcare to all who need it.

Better chances for children tomorrow Every day we see gaps in the quality and availability of services across the country as historic inequalities are compounded by increased demand for children’s social care. We have continued to support frontline professionals through the publications, training and resources of CoramBAAF, and our Coram Innovation Incubator, which develops new solutions to emerging issues, continues to grow and gain buy-in from children’s services directors across the country. As the weeks and months have passed and we emerge from lockdown, the impact of prolonged absence from school on children’s confidence, opportunities and wellbeing has become ever more evident. We have restored the Coram Shakespeare Schools Festival to schools nationwide. We have worked to give more young people in care and care leavers a chance to shine through our Voices writing competition as well as our Voices Through Time: the Story of Care programme. We have been at the forefront of issues in relation to migrant children and made substantial contributions – through evidence, ideas and consultation – to the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care. We have completed multiple evaluations of new approaches, from social workers in schools to family group conferences, while Coram International has worked across continents building legal frameworks for children’s rights. As we set out the achievements of this year of transition, we continue to focus on our longer term vision of Coram as the Institute for the Future of Children, dedicated to turning insight into impact and building the public understanding and engagement needed to create better chances for the next generation of children. We are eternally grateful to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and to the companies, trusts and individuals who are supporting us to realise our goals. Like Thomas Coram, we shall not rest until every child has the best possible chance in life. Thank you.

Sir David Bell, President and Chairman

Dr Carol Homden, Chief Executive Officer


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Better chances for children now and forever A LOVING HOME IN A FAIR CHANCE EDUCATION I HAVE











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“We are Coram. We shall not rest until every child has the best possible chance in life.”


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“The agency is leading early permanence and adoption work in all its aspects.” Judged outstanding by Ofsted

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Key Achievements 2021 saw the continuing impact of Covid-19 on the lives of children, but we have worked tirelessly to sustain all of our key services, supporting thousands of children, young people and families throughout the year.





















Digest | 2021–22

A fair chance in life Our legal teams have worked to ensure that children’s rights are respected, protected and enforced, and that all those who need legal support can obtain it.

The impact of Covid-19, EU transition and national policies restricting access to legal aid mean that our work has never been more needed. Our collaborations and interactions with a wide range of professionals, young people and parents have led to pivotal victories securing rights for thousands of young people for years to come.

40 years of children’s rights In 2021–22, Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) celebrated 40 years working for children’s rights through advice, representation, information, research, consultancy and strategic litigation. In November we marked the anniversary with a report and an event addressed by our patrons. Baroness Hale of Richmond, and The Rt Hon Sir Andrew McFarlane. The event also heard from Djamila and Abdullahi, two of the members of our Young Citizens programme, Her Honour Judge Celia Dawson (Chair of Trustees) and Professor Dame Carolyn Hamilton DBE.

Successful challenge to unlawful speech and language policy This year, the Education law team successfully challenged Norfolk County Council’s unlawful policy to dramatically cut speech and language therapy (SLT) provision for children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), protecting access to therapies for thousands of children and young people across the county.

Access to child law advice Our dedicated family and education legal advice service, based in Colchester, provided over 15,000 clients with advice on a range of issues during the year, including family contact issues, domestic abuse, and education exclusion. Challenges of lockdown were also reflected in enquiries, particularly authorisation of absence for children whose wellbeing had been indirectly affected by Covid-19, and the detrimental impact on education provision and related systems for those with special educational needs and disabilities. Survey feedback confirmed that 92% of clients – none of whom had access to a solicitor – had a better understanding of their legal position after receiving advice, with 88% clear on the options available and next steps enabling them to take forward their case.

“The work done by Coram Children’s Legal Centre and the outcomes they have achieved for children in need of legal advice are nothing short of phenomenal.” Stas Kuzmierkiewicz, Senior Pro Bono Associate, Baker McKenzie

Independent Review Mechanism CCLC provided the Independent Review Mechanism for England for fostering and adoption for the Department for Education, this year supporting review of more cases than ever before.

Baker McKenzie In August 2021, we were one of only two charities to be voted Charity of the Year by the London office of Baker McKenzie, one of the world’s largest law firms. The company had been involved alongside us in the Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) UK project for two years, and will support our work through fundraising, volunteering and pro-bono activity in a new two-year partnership.



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“The complications of life today are really outside the people that were crafting The Children Act. Issues of asylum and migration were not on the agenda in the same way as they are now. We look forward to the future and by golly we need Coram Children’s Legal Centre to keep us in focus as we move forward into that future!” The Rt Hon Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales


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“I had a lot of childhood trauma. I ended up in a very uncomfortable place with children’s social care and Coram helped me with all of my issues and to get the outcome that I needed.”

Lucy was 15 years old when she turned to Coram for support. Having left her family home, she felt she had nowhere to go. Kelly Everett, Senior Solicitor at CCLC, represented Lucy in challenging her local authority to provide secure accommodation and to safeguard her welfare and mental health. “I had a lot of childhood trauma. I ended up in a very uncomfortable place with children’s social care and Coram helped me with all of my issues and to get the outcome that I needed. Kelly helped me…and gave me the confidence that I needed to stand my ground. She gave me reassurance that what I was asking for wasn’t unreasonable. Feeling safe and feeling happy – that’s not too much for any child to ask for...”

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Championing children’s rights in practice



The Coram Legal Practice provides legal aid case support in immigration, education, community care and family law from offices in London and Colchester. The practice, led by Rosalyn Aker Grams, is LEXCEL accredited with our latest audit commenting: “The organisation are to be LEXCEL commended in that 29 areas of good practice were identified during the assessment.”

Awards recognition We are proud to have been shortlisted for The Law Society’s Excellence in Access to Justice Award, the highest accolade for law firms and organisations in England and Wales. Our project with Linklaters was shortlisted in the Best New Pro Bono Activity category in LawWorks’ Pro Bono Awards. Qaisar Sheikh, head of education law and senior solicitor, was ranked in Band 1 of Chambers and Partners in the category of Education Law, joining only two other solicitors in this prestigious band, and he was shortlisted for the 2022 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award.

Securing access to education Securing access to education CCLC is the longest continuing provider of the national education legal aid service for Civil Legal Advice (CLA). Three thousand clients have been advised and assisted in the last five years.

Challenging data breaches In April 2021 CCLC intervened alongside Liberty and Inclusion London in the Supreme Court case Lloyd v Google with the aim of securing the rights of children and disabled people to seek redress and compensation for data breaches. We argued the right to compensation should be available to children, regardless of whether they understand the consequences of a data breach or experience distress as a result. Whilst ultimately unsuccessful, our challenge introduced important child rights arguments to the data protection sphere, at a critical point in time where children’s lives are increasingly effected by the digital world.

Empowering families facing school exclusions Our multidisciplinary roundtable on 25 February brought together leading education experts from a range of disciplines to discuss how best to support and empower families with children facing school exclusion. The discussion was led by Renuka Jeyarajah-Dent, our director of special projects, and chaired by Sir Norman Lamb, chair of the board of Maudsley Hospital and the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition.

Increased capacity for legal casework Thanks to a generous grant from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation during the year, we have appointed a new senior supervising solicitor and caseworker, helping us to meet the growing need for immigration casework.

IN THE COMING YEAR CCLC will expand its education law work with a second centre in Leeds, increase immigration work, including activity in conjunction with We Belong and Linklaters, and develop work in the Grenfell community with Clement James Centre.


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Migrant children Coram provides advice, outreach and policy information to address the challenges facing migrant children or children who are undocumented, at a time of unprecedented change.

EU Settlement Scheme support 2021 brought the deadline of the EU settlement scheme, the UK’s largest ever regularisation programme, which enabled EU, EEA and Swiss citizens to secure their residence rights in the UK. Over two and a half years, our ground-breaking project helped hundreds of children and families secure their futures in the UK. More than 400 looked-after children, care leavers, and vulnerable families were assisted with applications to the scheme. Through a new partnership, 50 Linklaters lawyers supervised by a CCLC specialist solicitor gave more than 400 hours to help in the run up to the deadline.





New local authority partnerships

Reuniting separated families

In 2021, we began two innovative partnerships with the London Boroughs of Ealing and Barnet to resolve the immigration and nationality needs of looked-after children and care leavers. Our immigration advisors are working with social work teams to ensure that the immigration and citizenship rights of all children and young people are identified and promoted. Learning from the project will inform best practice models for working collaboratively with local authorities.

CCLC partnered with the charity Refugee Legal Support and eight pro bono partner law firms on the Family Reunion From Europe project. Through the partnership, a designated family reunion caseworker position was created within CCLC to deliver complex family reunion casework.

Influencing age assessment As the Nationality and Borders Bill passed through Parliament during 2021-22, the Refugee and Migrant Children’s Consortium, co-chaired by CCLC, helped shape and challenge changes to policies relating to the age assessment of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, voicing concerns directly with parliamentarians and giving evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights. We argued that it is unethical to legislate for the care of children based on unsound scientific research without the backing of the medical profession.

Ten-year campaign culminates in new immigration rules New shorter, more affordable routes to settlement for migrant children and young adults in the UK announced by the Home Office in March 2022 was a major victory for young migrants, CCLC and children’s rights campaigners. CCLC participated in the Home Office Simplification of the Immigration Rules taskforce.

Support for Afghan refugees In February 2022, CCLC welcomed a group of Afghan families accommodated in local hotels who had fled the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan. We provided information on education rights, immigration and family reunion, housing and welfare benefits to families in need of support and advice to begin rebuilding their lives in the UK.

Immigration issues of children in care A report published by CCLC and the South London Refugee Association in February 2022 found that more than one in ten looked-after children in England, and more than 10,000 care leavers, have an immigration or nationality issue. Taking care: How local authorities can best address immigration issues of children in care, endorsed by many major children’s organisations, puts forward a strategy for caring for non-British children, drawing on best practice across the UK.

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My journey Sebur, age 15 Coming here was not part of the plan but I had to flee danger in Iran Every day the police could take my life every single day filled with fear and strife You wouldn’t believe the things my eyes have seen things that would make your soul scream Things that you can never forget nightmares that would wake you up in a sweat Fifty-four people in just one small boat we were worried that it would not stay afloat No one can understand how much I was terrified if in the next second I would even be alive Landed in a country where everything is new everything so different, don’t know what to do I have lost my parents, I’m filled with so much regret my message: please give your mother and father respect


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International Impact for Children Coram International provides technical assistance and specialist research services to protect and promote the rights of children worldwide. It works closely with UNICEF on a range of issues affecting children. During the last year Coram International’s work covered 42 countries in all regions of the world. A global guide to digital law Worldwide, more and more children have regular access to the internet, and at an increasingly younger age. In many countries, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of schools and children being confined to home for long periods of time. One of the results has been many more children accessing the internet and for longer periods of time. While the internet provides many opportunities for education, socialisation and play, it can also put children at risk of harm. The scale, severity, and complexity of online child sexual exploitation and abuse is increasing at a faster pace than those seeking to protect children can respond. Many countries are ill-equipped to prevent and respond to child online sexual exploitation and abuse, and lack up-to-date and robust legislative and regulatory frameworks. UNICEF commissioned Coram International to draft a new Global Guide: Legislating for the digital age:

Global guide on improving legislative frameworks to protect children from online sexual exploitation and abuse. The Guide provides practical guidance, recommendations and best practice examples to governments, organisations and civil society to support the development and strengthening of legislation, and to assist legislators and child protection advocates working to influence laws and regulations.

Children affected by migration in Southeast Asia Child protection risks faced by migrant children and children affected by migration are numerous. They include immigration detention, lack of protection for refugee and asylum-seeking children, discrimination in relation to access to basic services as education and health, exploitation by smugglers and traffickers, statelessness, and violence, abuse and exploitation in origin countries while their parents migrate for work.







Coram International carried out a situational analysis on children affected by migration in the 10 member States of the Association of South East Asian Nations, and undertook six case studies on different aspects of migration in Cambodia, Lao PRD, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The analysis is designed to assess the scale and drivers of child migration in the region and to make recommendations to inform the development of national and regional policies.

IN THE COMING YEAR Coram International will undertake a a study in India, Nepal and Bangladesh into changes in drivers and moderators of child marriage due to COVID-19 for UNICEF’s Regional Office for South Asia as part of its ongoing portfolio of research to enhance children’s rights across the world. It will also evaluate UNICEF’s deinstitutionalisation programme across six countries in Europe and Tajikistan in Central Asia.

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Tackling violence against children in Bulgaria Coram International carried out a national study for UNICEF on Violence Against Children (VAC) in Bulgaria to estimate its prevalence and provide a comprehensive picture of the current situation with respect to knowledge, attitudes and practices. The report considered the capacity of institutions responsible for prevention, identification and provision of a response to violence against children.



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A loving home Coram is the first and longest continuing charity for children, established as the Foundling Hospital in 1739. Today we are an Ofsted-rated outstanding adoption agency, a leader in national matching services and a key adviser in adoption and fostering to ensure every child can find the loving home they need. At the forefront of adoption practice This year Coram’s voluntary adoption agency was rated outstanding by Ofsted for the service it provides for adopted children and their families, sustaining two previous outstanding ratings. Inspectors noted the importance of work in early permanence planning to ensure children are not left waiting and the quality of adoption support stating “adopted children and their families receive exceptional services from this agency...the adoption support offer is impressive and covers every aspect of the adoption process. Prospective adopters say that the support they receive is effective and comprehensive ... and children make excellent progress as a direct result of carefully planned assessments, introductions and support offered.”

Coram consistently recruits a diverse range of adopters to meet the needs of children waiting. This year Coram joined with 11 other voluntary adoption agencies for the #AdopterChoice campaign, to highlight the choices available to people considering becoming a parent through adoption. Coram is also backing the call for parity of adoption leave for self-employed adopters.

Regional leadership Coram Ambitious for Adoption is the leading Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) delivered by a voluntary adoption agency. We were delighted to welcome Slough as the ninth local authority in this pioneering partnership, with Ofsted noting that “practice at this agency is innovative and progressive.... The development of the regional agency in conjunction with other London boroughs and one council is impressive.”



Early permanence recognition Coram continued to champion early placement for infants through concurrent planning and was pleased to achieve the full award of the national Early Permanence quality mark.

IN THE COMING YEAR We will mark 50 years of Coram Adoption with a publication assessing its impact over the decades and a celebration event, as well as a policy programme looking at the issues faced by children and adopters in the modern world.




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“I was adopted through Coram at 20 months old. I was fortunate enough to be raised in a stable, loving family, through which I was able to have amazing experiences…I realise how lucky I am to have been raised in such an amazing and supportive family. I believe that all children should have the same opportunity to fully develop their potential.” Anthony, a 21-year-old university student, grew up in London with his adoptive family. His parents had two birth daughters aged 6 and 9 when they adopted him at 20 months, and later went on to adopt a brother for Anthony.


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Securing matches for children who need them Over the last decade, Coram has matched more children with families than any single adoption agency and has been instrumental in 10% of adoptions in England through its national matching services, including Adoption Activity Days and Exchange Days. 10 years of Adoption Activity Days Adoption Activity Days are informal events bringing together children waiting with approved adoptive parents. We marked their 10th anniversary with a report, Transforming the Lives of Children Who Wait and a reunion event. Impact evaluation shows that the Activity Days are particularly valuable for children who wait the longest – those in sibling groups, and children with disabilities, for example – but also enable adopters attending to learn more about the children waiting for adoption and to consider matching with a wider range of children.

All the children who attend have been waiting a significant length of time to find the family they need, and, despite the challenges of social distance during the pandemic, the programme was sustained with the same exceptional success rate of 1 in 4 of the children being matched.

Building national capacity During the year 18,608 people pursued an enquiry into adoption via our online service First4Adoption, and Coram provided membership support and guidance for agencies through CoramBAAF to ensure that children benefited from skilled and confident professional support no matter where they live. We introduced virtual profiling to complement the programme of exchange days for professionals and adopters, and worked to develop the model for Fostering Activity Days to address the challenges for older children in finding the loving home they need. carers to consider the option to Be My Family

Adoption Activity Days in numbers







Post-Adoption Activity Day survey



“The Adoption Activity Days have added a new dimension to Coram’s work, giving a chance to form a bond and begin an emotional connection that’s hopefully going to last a lifetime.” The Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP, Secretary of State for Education, on the launch of our report to mark 10 years of Adoption Activity Days

IN THE COMING YEAR We will work with regional adoption agency leaders to extend access to Adoption Activity Days across the country. We will further develop tools and resources to enable potential adopters and foster carers to consider the option to Be My Family. We will pilot Sibling Time Activity Days to enable children in foster care or who have been adopted who are separated from a sibling to have time to connect.

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“We went to a fun day, as Leonardo calls it, in October 2019. We were lucky enough to meet Leonardo, and the connection was immediate. As soon as I met him it was love at first sight, and I didn’t expect it to be that way. He chose us, and we’ve been very happy ever since.” Angela and Sulabh


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Creative Therapies Coram’s Centre for Creative Therapies provides therapeutic support to children who have experienced court proceedings, those who have been removed from their birth parents or are separated from them, and children with behavioural challenges or special educational needs. 252 children, young people, parents, carers, prospective foster parents and adopters were helped in 2021–22. The year was characterised by innovation in helping young people to understand their past and to improve sleep, diet and exercise. With support from Comic Relief and the Pears Foundation, Coram’s music and art therapists, alongside psychologists and family therapists, delivered art and music therapy to children and their parents/carers. This helped to improve bonds, overcome trauma and equip children with the skills to succeed at school and relate positively with peers. 90% of parents reported improvements in their child’s behaviour. The government recognised the value of therapeutic support in its Adoption Strategy 2021, and has committed to building on its success. The Coram Centre provides assessment and clinical intervention under the Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Fund.

Creative therapy in schools Coram worked across primary and secondary schools, and specialist provision in Camden and beyond to provide art and music therapy through group or individual sessions, on referral. Support was provided in school, on line or in person at the Pears Pavilion, our bespoke therapy building on the Coram Campus.

Creative Harmony Music therapy can help children who might not have the vocabulary to articulate their thoughts and emotions about their experiences. Evaluation of our work has shown that early music therapy intervention can support improvement in children’s ability to relate to adults and peers, and in developing their attention and awareness to support school readiness and learning. Harmony is a unique therapeutic group for under 5s who have experienced court proceedings and are adopted or live under special guardianship arrangements (usually within their extended family or kinship network). It encourages expression and builds confidence in communication through a creative virtual environment with music, movement and sensory storytelling. The eight-week virtual programme includes weekly music and storytelling sessions for carers and children, weekly parenting support and coaching phone calls to carers, with ongoing assessment and the offer of further specific and evidence-based interventions where appropriate. According to carers, the Harmony programme was particularly valuable during lockdown, when it was especially difficult for infants to access social groups and play with other children, and when special guardianship carers felt isolated and struggled to access other support.



“We’ve noticed such a difference at home – P is like a different little boy, and we’ve had great feedback from school as well; his self-esteem is really growing and helping him engage better educationally.” Parent of child who had music therapy with Coram



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William*, aged 5, was referred for music therapy by educational staff to support him with socialisation and communication. He had a complex medical history and often showed challenging behaviour at school and at home. William had delayed motor skills and had spent much of his short life in and out of hospital. In his first music therapy session, William was initially tentative. He avoided eye contact with the therapist and carefully stepped over all the instruments that were laid out for him. After a few minutes in the room together the therapist began to play the piano and sing a calm ‘hello song’. When William heard his name sung he immediately looked at the therapist and grinned. With space and time and the predictable structure of the sessions, William developed interests in new sounds and became motivated to engage. His Teaching Assistant is now able to develop his focus and support William in the future. *Name has been changed

IN THE COMING YEAR We will further develop training to promote healthy sleep, diet and exercise, and expand our life story work with older young people through the Tree of Life approach.


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A voice that’s heard Voicelessness, stigma and a lack of agency have long affected children in care. Coram works to change this and get young voices heard. This year, we worked with care experienced young people to research what matters most to them. We assessed the impact of Covid-19 on children in care and care leavers and we also provided input into national consultations and created #RealStoriesofCare to put young people at the heart of stories about their lives. During National Care Leavers’ Week in October 2021, Coram Voice published a collation of more than 300 care leavers’ views on areas of children’s social care that most require change, as identified in A Case for Change, the interim report from the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.

A National Voice Ambassadors – 24 care experienced young people aged 16 to 25 from across England – ensured a broad range of children and young people in care and leaving care could have their say, by developing workshop packs which were distributed to Children in Care Councils and other groups who had expressed an interest. This was complemented by a separate survey to extend reach and engage more young people. In addition to this research, the independent care review cited three further Coram research publications by Coram Voice and Coram Children’s Legal Centre, two of which were published in 2021. Our CEO Dr Carol Homden provided a same-day reaction, with a formal response to follow later in 2022.

Young people’s views of the priorities for change in children’s social care





A National Voice: What children and young people wanted to say to the Care Review (2021)

Bright Spots Since the Bright Spots Programme started, Coram Voice has collected over 20,000 voices through the Your Life, Your Care and Your Life Beyond Care surveys, working together with more than 60 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. These reveal what matters to children and young people’s wellbeing and where there are areas for improvement in services, including the vital importance of continuity in social workers and in the foster family they live with.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on care leavers’ wellbeing Published in January 2022 by Coram Voice’s Bright Spots programme, this report found that – contrary to expectations – care leavers’ well-being did not decline during the pandemic, and in some areas improved slightly, suggesting additional support made available through local authorities and national initiatives made a valuable difference to these young people. We noted, however, the ongoing existence of many challenges that care leavers already faced before Covid-19, and we remain committed to addressing these.

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“The support given to me recently from social services has been phenomenal, as due to Covid I lost my job and have been struggling to pay my bills ever since… I have little to no work and can’t claim universal credit, so without the help of social services I really don’t know what I would do!” A care leaver surveyed for ‘The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on care leavers’ wellbeing’

“The review presents a bold, realistic and coherent vision for rebalancing the system. What matters now is that we ensure that children’s rights and best interests stand at the heart of implementation. Children in care today cannot afford delay.” Coram CEO Dr Carol Homden, responding to The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care


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Aaron*, 16, fled his family home after experiencing emotional abuse and homophobia. He went to Children’s Services to ask for help but was told that he should return home. He felt that the social workers were not listening to him and were taking his parents’ side, advising him that if he did not go home he would be “intentionally homeless”. He moved from friend to friends, sleeping on sofas until his options ran out and he had to sleep rough in a park for a few nights. Then he met a homelessness worker who was part of our Homeless Outreach’s referral network. The worker helped Aaron contact Coram Voice. Aaron’s advocate supported him to challenge Children’s Services failure to fulfil their duty to support and accommodate him. Children’s Services finally changed their view. Aaron was taken into care and provided with safe accommodation. He was given a social worker to help him access education and plan for his life ahead. *Photo of model to protect confidentiality

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Children’s voices in action Coram Voice’s pioneering work as the leading advocate for children is driven by the belief that children in care and care leavers should be at the heart of decisions that affect their lives, and that young people can drive improvements to the care system for future generations. Coram Voice works to ensure that young people know their rights and that their voices are heard in decisions about their care, with the support of our trained independent advocates. This year, Coram Voice advocates worked with children and young people from 123 local authorities across England through locally commissioned advocacy services, the national Always Heard service, and our specialist advocacy projects, supporting young people when no one else would help. We shared 256 safeguarding concerns with local authorities, helping children to speak out and helping social workers to keep them safe.

Always Heard Always Heard is the national advice line and safety net for care experienced children and young people, ensuring every child who needs an advocate gets one and that no child is turned away. 8,607 children and young people were assisted to get the help they needed from local advocacy services. A further 700 children and young people were provided with advocacy support directly when no one else would help. With the insight we gain, we are able to highlight the systemic barriers children and young people face in accessing advocacy – for example, no free phone number to call – and support local authorities to improve, sharing information with the Department for Education, Ofsted and the Children’s Commissioner.

Access to support This year we continued to find that too many young people are being denied the local independent advocacy they are entitled to. As a result, we increased our work with young people on the edges of care who are denied the support they need, from children seeking asylum, who are disbelieved and treated as adults, through to homeless children.

Homeless Outreach Coram Voice helped at least 250 young people to escape homelessness by working with those who were failed by the system when they asked for help as children. By enabling young people to claim their right to be treated as care leavers, we get them off the streets and re-engaged with the care system that let them down, so they can be further supported if needed in future.

Training for the future Our specialist advocacy work, which covers disability and mental health as well as homelessness, continues to drive practice improvement by providing expert training, professional advice and resources to hundreds of advocates and others supporting children and young people, including advice on how they can help end homelessness for children and young people.



“Things have changed so much since I called you. It feels like my life is on track now and that people are listening.” Aaron

Independent Visitors Independent Visitors are trained volunteers who make visits to children and young people in residential care settings to ensure they are heard. This year, we provided invaluable one-to-one support for more than 170 children to help them through their care journey.

IN THE COMING YEAR Coram Voice will further develop its specialist advocacy services and work with the Consortium of Advocacy Providers to champion the development and application of national advocacy standards for children.




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Young people helping others The HALO programme enables young people to help others whilst building skills as young ambassadors, co-trainers, peer researchers, helpline advisers, creative communicators, reading volunteers and care experienced consultants. New Belongings New Belongings is Coram Voice’s continuing partnership with eight local authorities across the country, working directly with care experienced young people to develop understanding of what makes life good for care leavers. Building on our Bright Spots Your Life Beyond Care survey, New Belongings creates a unique opportunity for local authorities to create and test different practice to improve outcomes for care leavers.

Young Citizens’ Training 22 Young Citizens Trainers used their experience of overcoming challenges when moving to the UK to help 396 of their peers and 44 professionals through workshops that they co-designed and led. The workshops increased the young people’s wellbeing, support networks and access to their rights, supporting them to make positive lives for themselves in this country. Professionals benefited from hearing the first-hand experiences of young people going through the asylum process and gained an understanding of how to keep the needs of young people at the heart of their practice. The group also created six new short films for their Starting Life in the UK YouTube series, sharing experiences and tips on getting mental health support, accessing rights in the care system, and how to overcome challenges to sleep, food and getting involved in new activities. They also worked with Coram Voice to translate website information for young people, increasing accessibility for speakers of other languages.

“The workshop... gave space and time for young people to reflect on their challenges and ways of overcoming them. This was supported and enhanced by the solidarity, empathy and safe space provided by the facilitators.” ESOL teacher

IN THE COMING YEAR We will work with young people and local authorities to improve services and to extend our volunteer and placement roles. We will deliver a Future of Youth Forum to understand the ramifications of lifestyle and consumer trends for services.




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“Young people often come up to me...and tell me that I have inspired them with my story and shown them that they can make the impossible possible…it makes me euphoric to see the positive impact I am making on people’s lives.” Abdullahi, Young Citizens Training Volunteer


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A chance to shine “It’s a magical experience... It’s why I make sure we keep coming back and get as many kids in to it as possible. They don’t forget about the experience and they talk about it all the time.” Laura Warwick, Teacher at Elms Bank School (SEND School), Bury

Coram’s festivals strengthen the skills and confidence of the children who take part in them. The performances gave children and young people nationwide a unique opportunity to learn something entirely new and develop their abilities and experience through creativity.

Festival magic

Coram Shakespeare Schools Festival 2021–22

33 VENUES 9,173


Coram Shakespeare Schools Festival, the world’s largest annual youth drama festival, ran over an extended four months to ensure that – after two years of disruption to their opportunities and learning – 9,173 children across the country could once more experience the unique benefits of performing live drama in professional theatres. Diverse audiences witnessed how the immersion in stagecraft and compelling stories can be transformational for children – extending their horizons and building communication skills, confidence and resilience by working in a theatre company with their peers. Schools appreciated the lasting benefit of inclusion and development for the network of teachers. This exceptional learning opportunity was supported by The Childhood Trust and individual donors, who generously matched all donations received through The Big Give Christmas Challenge.

Shakespeare on film Building on the digital innovations introduced during lockdown, we launched the inaugural Shakespeare Schools Film Festival in 2021, delivered in partnership with education charity Into Film. This new venture increased access to the arts across the country and provided greater opportunities for children with additional needs. Over six months from June to November, more than 1,500 children from 60 primary, secondary and SEND schools nationwide produced short films of Shakespeare plays, learning technical as well as performance skills.

Best of the Fest The digital ‘Best of the Fest’, hosted by actors Hugh Dennis, Alfred Enoch and Jan Ravens in December 2021, highlighted outstanding scenes from the films and celebrated the achievements of those involved. All the films produced can be viewed at

IN THE COMING YEAR We will increase the number of schools and young people participating in our programmes by 10% and develop our festivals so that they are accessible to young people in every part of the UK.

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“I’ve seen for myself how performance of Shakespeare can raise children’s confidence, resilience and ambition. And right now children need these more than ever.” Jan Ravens on Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation’s Theatre Festival 2022


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Recognition through creative writing Voices is the only writing competition specifically for children in and leaving care in England. Supported by Cadence Innova, it provides a platform for children and young people to showcase their creative talent, increases understanding of their experiences and allows them to shine.

The Voices programme continued throughout the pandemic providing an important expressive opportunity for children and young people during lockdown. The theme of What Makes Life Good in 2021 was celebrated in a virtual showcase and the winners of Voices 2022, which had the theme of This Is Me, were announced in person in May 2022. Peter Capaldi again hosted both of the awards for Coram Voice, alongside 2019 winner Sophia

Alexandra Hall, who now works in copy production for Classic FM radio. Sabrina Johnson raised £1,313 for Coram through a fundraising campaign to mark Peter Capaldi’s 64th birthday!

IN THE COMING YEAR Voices will be back with a theme to be chosen by children and young people.

“My foster caring family, my school, my social worker, and everyone are very proud of me. And now I’m really excited to be invited back as a young judge!” Jessica, winner of the Voices 2021 Primary School category:

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This Is Me For life had handed her an unfair deck the game was rigged, the score was set, destined to fail, expected to lose, she battled the bet, a new life she would choose. She brushed her hair and cleaned her teeth, battled with the emotion beneath, she stood up proud and wiped her tears, confronted all her darkest fears... ...She learned her worth and built herself, she left the trauma on a shelf, she saw her potential and started to fly, and she kissed the old her goodbye. I think this much is plain to see, I am her and she is me, and I am happier than I have ever been, I am her and this is me!”

Kirstie, commended in the Care Leaver category

Peter Capaldi with co-host Sophia Alexandra Hall and judges of the 2022 Voices awards.

A recipe for Jack 100 big bags of kindness A bucket full of friendship One thousand smiles a day 10 large spoons of excitement A heap of caring A little dash of sadness A dollop pf cheekiness (but not too much)

Jack, Primary Category


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Skills for the future Coram’s education programmes this year enabled 308,000 children across 1500 schools to develop skills in reading, to gain practical skills, and build the critical thinking needed to make positive decisions for their future.





Wellbeing in action

Adapting to need

Coram Life Education is the UK’s leading provider of health, wellbeing, relationships and drugs education and this year saw a 9% increase to 45,945 in teachers subscribed to the SCARF whole school curriculum resources. Reflecting our values for children of Safety, Caring, Achievement, Resilience and Friendship, SCARF consists of expert education workshops and online curriculum and teacher training, enabling primary schools to take a whole-school approach to children’s emotional and physical wellbeing. Our specialist CLE educators worked directly with 33,176 children, with a further quarter of a million children reached through our network of delivery partners across the UK. Alongside core primary school resources, SCARF now supports Early Years and Key Stage 3, meeting what are now statutory requirements for relationship and sex education.

We continued to adapt how we supported schools and children during the pandemic. For schools restricting visitors, we developed virtual educator workshops emphasising children’s emotional wellbeing and resilience, and we offered all SCARF schools ‘SCARF at Home’: resources that could be shared with parents and carers of children not in school. While children were homelearning, our healthy-living mascot Harold the Giraffe once again wrote a daily diary, attracting hundreds of emails, pictures, ideas from children. Together with Coram Beanstalk, we produced a Reconnect and Recover mental health toolkit to build children’s resilience and wellbeing as they returned to school life.

“Planning is easy to follow, all resources are provided. Resources are age appropriate, including really memorable lessons with Harold the Giraffe and his friends.” A Teacher on using SCARF resources

Tottington Primary proudly display their SCARF achievement

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Schools across the country took part in our ‘Wear your scarf to school day’ campaign, which coincided with Children’s Mental Health Week in February.

“I love the puppets and the stories and the songs”

Partners in practice To strengthen the skills and expertise available to help teachers address the issues faced by children in their classrooms every day, Coram Life Education is collaborating with UNICEF’s Rights Respecting Schools Programme. CLE is also partnering with the Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH) providing Meet the Expert teacher webinars on issues such as self-harm and anxiety.

“We have loved the lessons, IN THE COMING YEAR the resources and how We will further develop SCARF sensitively yet thoroughly for secondary schools, launch an everything is done. The online parents’ portal and invest in more specialist educators to pupils have responded so meet growing demand for well to the materials, and school-based PSHE workshops. staff feel confident to deliver. PSHE lead, Cumbria, June 2021


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A new chapter in life through reading and coding This year 1,609 volunteers worked with 697 schools and helped 4,827 children to become confident readers, and we also developed new approaches to meet the changing needs of children and schools.

Building impact

Tomorrow’s Achievers

Coram Beanstalk this year evaluated the progress children make depending on the amount of time spent face-to-face with their reading helpers, all of whom are trainedto complement schools’ formal phonics reading schemes. The new Reading Leaders programme was developed to enable older young people to be trained to support their younger peers, a programme recognised by the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. We have worked with corporate partners who are helping us to support more children.

The aim of the Coding with Confidence programme is to enable children to improve digital skills while having fun. More than 6,000 children from 80 schools took part in 6 free virtual week long coding courses delivered with our partner, Microsoft. Employability workshops for young people aged 16-25 held at Microsoft’s Experience Centre on London’s Oxford Street featured talks on overcoming adversity, securing apprenticeships and social media.

IN THE COMING YEAR “Beanstalk is the best Coram Beanstalk will aim to recruit intervention programme train more diverse volunteers in we have ever delivered and and Merseyside, the West Midlands and shows the most progress” London, with the support of DCMS Lisa Boardman, Headteacher, Atherton St Georges CE Primary

and the Pears Foundation

To deepen impact and aspiration, Coram Tomorrow’s Achievers worked with the Virtual Schools Network for East London and London South Bank University to support 15 looked-after children to code a digital storytelling animation in two coding clubs, described by the virtual school lead as “the summer highlight of children who attended.”

Aliyah’s story In my first session with Aliyah* she spoke only when I spoke to her, she didn’t engage and she looked sad. I gently explained why I was there, and was she ok sitting with me and looking at the books? Yes, but she didn’t want to read. Our first few sessions were looking at the books on offer, allowing her to choose whichever book she wanted. Over time she became interested. This was January. Before our third session finished she voluntarily told me why she didn’t look at books. She was trusting me. Here we are now in April and she is a different child. She has a fantastic imagination – she has even talked about writing a book. She has come alive and now knows how to articulate what it is she wants to say and put it down on paper. To see a child so engaged and brimming with ideas from such a quiet start is just amazing. I really enjoy being a Coram Beanstalk helper. *Photo of model to protect confidentiality





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No matter where Coram is dedicated to ensuring that children have an equal access to high quality services, no matter where they live. CoramBAAF is the leading provider of specialist advice and resources in adoption and fostering and this year achieved an all-time high in professional participation. Practice publications

Building workforce skills and capacity

A number of best-selling guides for social workers, including Beyond Together or Apart and Undertaking a Fostering Assessment, were updated, along with Adopting a Child, our popular guide for those thinking about adoption. Readership of our Adoption & Fostering journal increased again year-on-year; countries submitting articles included Poland, Nigeria and the USA.

More than 36,000 social workers and professionals in local authorities had access to expert advice, publications, practice tools and training, enabling them to secure the skills and confidence needed to rise to the unprecedented demands upon children’s social care. To support members further, CoramBAAF this year introduced two new forums. Exploring Expertise provides opportunity to share innovation or best practice, whilst Wellbeing for Professionals enables colleagues to meet and share experiences with professionals from across the country.

Fostering debate The debate we organised on race and ethnicity in the care system included Krish Kandiah, Chair of the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board; Andrew Maynard, social worker and trainer; Sharon McPherson, family support practitioner, consultant trainer and kinship carer; Annalisa Toccara, co-founder and CEO of Adoptee Futures; Kevin Williams, Chief Executive, The Fostering Network; and was chaired by Derren Hayes, editor of CYP Now. In advance of the publication of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, we debated the Future of Care with David Akinsanysa, Keeley Stephenson, Andy Elvin (CEO of TACT), Carolyne Willow (Article 39), Allison Alexander and Kathy Evans (CEO of Children’s England) – half of whom are care experienced, chaired by the Coram CEO.

“CoramBAAF is a cornerstone of the family placement sector and its work supporting social workers – all over the UK – equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to do the best for some of our most vulnerable children, is vitally important and greatly needed.” Andrew Carter, City of London Corporation’s Executive Director of Community and Children’s Services, who succeeded Paul Curran as Chair of CoramBAAF

Specialist advice CoramBAAF convenes advisory forums across Social Work, Health, Legal Issues, Diversity and Inclusion, and Research, proving a unique multi-disciplinary perspective. Our expert consultants provide specialist advice. This year, 59% of the 2,500 enquiries made featured foster care, special guardianship and connected persons, with 41% related to adoption. We provided timely and detailed support to professionals working on complex case matters.



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Increasing access to early years support Coram Family and Childcare is the sector leader in researching the costs and availability of childcare, exposing the growing affordability and accessibility crisis for parents across the UK. Its growing network of Parent Champions enables volunteers in marginalised communities to work with other parents to ensure they are getting the childcare support they are entitled to. Cost of childcare survey The 21st childcare survey was conducted as the country began to emerge from the worst impact of the pandemic and as the cost of living rises hit the most disadvantaged children and families the hardest. There was intensive media interest and coverage in the findings and recommendations in the context of a decision by government not to review childcare funding or availability, despite the fact that only 59% of local authorities consider they have

sufficient provision for parents working full time in England, down from 68% in 2021 with the figure being only 24% (down from 41%) in Wales.

Crisis for disabled children Whilst 30% of local authorities in Scotland felt the have sufficiency childcare for children with disabilities (up from 15%), the figure fell back by 4 points to 21% in England and collapsed to 0% (from 19%) of authorities in Wales.

Access to early years support Coram Family and Childcare works to build access to early years and family support by convening the National Association of Family Information Services, and supporting the national network of Parent Champions Schemes. Together these support children, extend practice sharing for professionals, and skills development for Parent Champions from Caerphilly and Camden to Leicester and Wandsworth. In all, 6,500 children were helped to access childcare for 2 year olds this year.

The Childcare Survey 2022 calls for change • Reform of Universal Credit so it does not lock parents out of work – by increasing the maximum amount of childcare costs paid under Universal Credit and guaranteeing support for upfront childcare costs • The UK government to follow the lead of the Scottish government and extend the 30 hour free entitlement to all 3 and 4-year-olds • Doubling of the early years premium to boost outcomes for the most disadvantaged children. • Government to re-allocate the 2.4 billionunderspend from Tax-Free Childcare to other parts of the childcare system.

IN THE COMING YEAR We will extend Parent Champions to new areas and develop further training in early years entitlements for parents.

Parent Champions Parent champions are parent volunteers who gives a few hours a week to talk to other parents about the local services available to families. Rizwana Tabassum and Habiba Sekandar are Parent Champions in Camden, volunteering alongside Camden Early Years team and won the Volunteer of the Year Awards at this year’s Coram Family and Childcare conference. In September 2021 Camden Local Authority provided accommodation to thousands of Afghanistan refugees. Large numbers of families were housed in hotels, and each week Rizwana and Habiba met with families and encouraged them to attend local drop-ins, often walking the families there themselves. The families were large with multiple children – often without buggies and prams – making even short journeys tricky. But with reassurance from the Parent Champions, more and more families felt confident and supported to attend. Their own personal lived experience of what it is like to arrive in a new county and how isolating it can be, meant their compassion and understanding towards families built trust and confidence. Once families had settled Rizwana and Habiba supported many of the families to access the free childcare places in local nurseries, explaining the value of early education to encourage families to register.

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Digest | 2021-22

Insight and innovation for radical improvement Coram provides a driving force to local and national government and agencies to improve the quality and consistency of children’s services. Using our expertise in research, data analytics and practice, we work to build evidence and develop new solutions to old and new challenges. Championing early permanence The Coram Centre for early permanence provides guidance and support to agencies seeking to ensure best practice for infants in care planning through a national learning set, judicial seminars and independent quality mark. This year saw more than 100 professionals come together for the event convened with Judge HHJ Lynne Roberts Senior Circuit Judge and Designated Family Judge Central Family Court, on child early permanence legal context. A further 4 Agencies (2 RAAs, I LA and 1 VAA) achieved the National Early Permanence Quality Mark Award. In the coming year, this will be encouraged to more agencies in partnership with the Regional Adoption Agencies Leaders’ Group supported by national standards development highlighted in the governments Adoption Strategy.

Coram Innovation Incubator

Insight into impact

PA Consulting became our newest private sector partner, joining Microsoft and EY. The partnership’s first project was to prototype a national digital outreach tool that will help children identify and avoid the risks of exploitation.

The new training programme Objects in our Stories, supporting social workers, carers and support workers to use objects in their practice to enable children and young people to build connections and understand their story. Other new approaches which were developed and evaluated this year include Fostering Activity Days. These replicate the wellestablished approach for bringing children waiting for adoption together with approved adopters to find matches for them to find permanent homes for children and young people who need them, helping to address the challenge of placement sufficiency in foster care.

Art of the possible This year we published the Innovation Collective, a ground-breaking digest of innovation across the country and ran webinars to share expertise across boundaries with speakers including Greg MacKay, Global Director of Public Services for Microsoft, Annie Hudson, Chair of the National Safeguarding Review Panel, and Microsoft specialists in both data sharing and data solutions. Our private sector partners, Microsoft and EY shared their experience and insight in data sharing, and the use of established data management tools to improve decision-making and in partnership working.

National data in action Coram-I won a further two-year contract with the Department for Education to provide the Secretariat for the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board, which includes running a voluntary quarterly data collection from every local authority, regional adoption agency and voluntary adoption agency in England.

IN THE COMING YEAR, We will respond further with the piloting of a new housing solution for foster care and innovation in records access with North Yorkshire, and a new Innovation Inset programme to help build greater capacity in the sector.



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“My hope and optimism is events like this and the innovation I have seen today” AD, North West local authority




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A society that cares From national and local policymakers to professionals, the media, the public and supporters, Coram works across society to increase understanding of the challenges faced by children, to build evidence and galvanise action to build a society that cares. In the news

At the heart of policy

Throughout 2021-2, Coram has maintained a high profile of comment and information through the media. BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme and LBC featured our CEO Dr Carol Homden CBE commenting on implications of social media contact between adopted children and birth families on both.

The Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi MP, visited Coram to meet adopters and the Ambitious for Adoption team as part of his announcement of £160m of funding to support new adoptive families. Coram CEO Dr Carol Homden and CoramBAAF Legal Adviser Alexandra Conroy-Harris gave evidence to the Children and Families Act 2014 Committee. The Coram-I Cost Escalator of Care was published as part of the Centre for Social Justice’s Family Commission report. 10 evidenced ideas were submitted to the Call for Ideas by the Independent Review for Children’s Social Care.

10 BBC local stations from Berkshire to York covered Chair Jill Pay and volunteer Christine Tooth discussing the work of the Coram Beanstalk, a partner in the BBC’s Make A Difference Happy Heads campaign.

Social Care Today and Children and Young People Now: included features by our creative therapists on the power of these interventions following the government’s recognition of their value in the 2021 Adoption Strategy. National Adoption Week saw a first person account by Coram adopters of their experience make the top story on BBC News online, and also achieved coverage across the wider media, including Grazia. The 21st annual childcare survey from Coram Family and Childcare was covered extensively across the media, as was Coram Children’s Legal Centre’s ongoing work supporting migrant children and challenging legislation and policies detrimental to their interests.

Developing Insight Work carried out this year included research for the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care assessing the benefits of social workers in school in York, and therapeutic life story work in the North East. More than 1500 families have participated in the Randomised Control Trial of Family Group Conferences, the largest study of its kind. Our report on the impact of Covid on care leavers found that contrary to expectations - care leavers’ well-being did not decline during the pandemic.

1 IN 8


Public attitudes to children in care and care leavers survey Our public attitudes survey, undertaken by YouGov and published in April 2021 to mark the first Care Experienced History Month UK, reported the views of more than 2,000 UK adults, and found evidence of negative and stigmatising associations which risk reinforcing fixed stereotypes of care-experienced young people.

IN THE COMING YEAR Coram is proud to be the sector partner to The Churchill Fellowship in their new programme of awards to enable those seeking to improve practice to receive an award to learn from international visits and experience. 30 awards will be made in the coming three years, forming a new Practice Bank of inspiring examples of improvement and innovation.

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Engaging the public in the story International Women’s Day To celebrate the journeys and contribution of refugee and migrant women in the UK, Rosalyn Akar-Grams, Coram Children’s Legal Centre Managing Director of Legal Practice and Children’s rights, chaired a special debate for International Women’s Day. Tashi Tahir, Parliamentary Officer of We Belong, and Ghadah Alnasseri, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Hibiscus, joined the panel, sharing their stories of the practical challenges that migrant and refugee women face in becoming leaders.

Black History Month On 6 October Coram held an online event to mark Black History Month with Dr Krish Kandiah, Chair of the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board, and Andrew Carter, City of London Corporation’s Executive Director of Community and Children’s Services. Events continued throughout the month with a workshop on race in Shakespeare with our Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation Patron, Alfred Enoch. The display at Coram Campus on Voices Through Time featured diverse voices from past and present and we profiled the diversity of adopters during National Adoption Week.

Volunteers in action During Volunteer Week 2021, we promoted our volunteering opportunities, including Coram Beanstalk Reading Helpers, Coram Family and Childcare Parent Champions, transcribers of our Foundling Hospital archive and our Story of Care ambassadors.

Public engagement Memories of the Foundling Hospital featured the online premiere of the personal tour of what is now Ashlyn’s School in Hertfordshire by Coram’s former pupils to mark the first ever Care Experienced History Month and featured in the on-site display of Voices Through Time.

Charlie Chaplin and the Story of Care Charlie Chaplin’s 1921 film ‘The Kid’ brought his experiences of London’s workhouses and child poverty to a worldwide audience – and led indirectly to The California Child Actor’s Bill, or the ‘Coogan Act’, later that year. Having been granted exclusive rights to celebrate the film’s centenary, we hosted fundraising screenings with live music in London’s iconic Wilton’s Music Hall on 7 July, and marked 100 years of the landmark legislation with an online debate about its relevance for child performers today, with Kate Guyonvarch from The Chaplin Office in Paris, Pamela Hutchinson of Silent London, and Coram’s Dr Carol Homden and Professor Dame Carolyn Hamilton.

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Telling the story of care



Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Voices Through Time: the Story of Care is a four year programme to digitise 25% of the Coram archive and enable young people in and leaving care today to reclaim their history and to inspire and inform the public through creative projects.

Precious record The Coram Foundling Hospital Archive dates back to Thomas Coram’s campaign to establish his charity in 1739. More than 4,000 volunteers world-wide are helping to transcribe the digital images of these fragile records in preparation for online publication as part of the coramstory. website. This features a dynamic Timeline of Care addressing key milestones in the development of the organisation, the legal framework and social policy as well as poignant stories of children’s lives.

Creative impact Care-experienced young people worked in the Coram Archive and developed their own creative responses, performing powerful spoken word testimony to explore What’s In a Name at the Arcola Theatre. A further group of young people worked in partnership with the Foundling Museum to develop a narrative blanket inspired by the historic textiles in the Coram records.


What’s in a Name? Spoken word performances at London’s Arcola Theatre, exploring the concept of identity for care-experienced people and developed with spoken word artist Ric Flo

It is to tackle the stigma which still blights the lives of too many children and young people in and leaving care that our #RealStoriesOfCare ambassadors developed a social media campaign, bringing the interwoven voices and experiences of past and present care-experienced children to the fore and reaching more than 6 million viewers.

IN THE COMING YEAR The Voices Through Time young ambassadors will research Feature Foundlings of the past and the narrative blanket will be displayed at the Foundling Museum and on tour across the country.

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Becoming a volunteer transcriber of the Foundling Hospital records has made me aware that each Foundling has a story – a voice to resonate to today, and touch our own lives.” Volunteer transcriber Hilary Pownall, on researching her mother’s Foundling foster mother

IN THE COMING YEAR We will provide further insight into children’s views and experiences in conjunction with the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, explore how the Foundling Hospital and UK law influenced the Commonwealth of Care, deliver three creative projects with young people and extend the children’s section of the Timeline of Care.

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A community of support As Covid restrictions lifted, our community of supporters showed commitment and ingenuity in raising funds, through sponsorship challenges, cultural events, corporate donations and much more. Our thanks to all who have helped us to create better chances for children, now and forever. “At Very, we believe every family deserves to get more out of life and working with Coram Beanstalk to improve children’s access to books, reading skills and confidence enables us to bring our purpose to life in a truly authentic way.”

Thanks (more than) a million!

Lauren Young, Culture & Communications Director, The Very Group

A Very big impact

We are proud to have the support of corporate partners including ARA Venn & ARA Europe, Baker McKenzie, DHL UK Foundation, The Lloyd’s Market Charity Awards 2021, Addleshaw Goddard, GIC, The Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, The John Lewis Partnership, Cadence Innova, Linklaters and Kimpton Fitzroy London Hotel.

Since December 2019 The Very Group has supported Coram Beanstalk to develop a new digital platform and learning and development resources to support its reading helpers nationally as well as help expand our network of reading helpers. The resulting £154,000 this year was raised through sponsorship activities, product sales, auctions, raffles and more has made a transformational difference. Thank you.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the grantmaking trusts and family foundations which have generously given over £2 million to the Coram group of charities in 21/22. We would particularly like to thank the Pears Foundation for their vital core funding for Coram Beanstalk, Coram Creative Therapy services and the Migrant Children’s Project as well as the support through the DCMS Volunteering Futures Fund.

Over £1,000,000 raised thanks to thousands of individual gifts, including from our Christmas campaign raising £175,000 and we are grateful for the continued support of our Charter Patrons. Over £260k from those remembering Coram in their Will and nearly £70,000 from challenge events. Almost £20k from supporters and partners including BDRC, Flooring Group, Gravis, Picton, Their Nibs and Paldone.

I became involved in 2015 through my father and since then .... I have walked 100km with my sister, chaired a fundraising committee, helped host panel events and even worked in Coram’s gardens but the pandemic hit these fundraising opportunities hard and Coram, alongside many other charities, has been significantly impacted. A substantial award like this will give a much needed boost to Coram Education in supporting the emotional health and wellbeing of children which is so important right now.” Annika Haslett Symonds, Partner & COO, EMEA & UK Human Capital Solutions, Aon

Back in the saddle Club Peloton was back, riding their way to £133,334 for Coram Adoption, Coram Life Education and for the wider Coram Group.

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IN THE COMING YEAR Coram will continue to work with our community of supporters to grow awareness of the challenges faced by children and young people and to change the odds for the next generation including through the exciting challenge events and The Big Give for our next Shakespeare Schools Festival.


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Looking to the future 300 years after Thomas Coram campaigned to create his charity, children’s chances in life still depend on who they are, where they live and who they live with. Every minute of every day, some children continue to be denied the love, security, education and opportunity which should be theirs by right. At Coram we never stop making positive change happen for children directly. Step by step, child by child. We champion their rights and we fight for their legal protection. We enable children to shine, gaining the skills they need for life and get their voices heard. As we work, we see ways that the policies and decisions which affect children’s lives could be fairer and more effective. So, inspired by children’s voices, we galvanise professionals to improve the systems which can unlock better chances for children. But that is not enough. In the UK and beyond, children’s needs continue to be overlooked in society. Children’s voices are rarely heard in decisions that matter. So, in the years ahead, we strive to lead concerted action as the first and only Institute for the Future of Children. We will use our position as the first and longest continuing children’s charity, and our proven staying power, authority, accumulated knowledge and connections to influence and model change. We will work to share learning and build capacity, to make breakthroughs today informed by deeper research and new insight and inspire the public in our continuing story to make change happen so that the next generation of children can have the best possible chance in life.

We are Coram. Creating better chances for children. Now and forever.

CORAM INSTITUTE Centre for Impact Library of Care & Academy of practice Innovation Incubator Story Centre & Voices Studio



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“Coram has been a driving force to improve the lives of vulnerable children, and at the cutting edge of research and practice excellence for generations ... I wish you every success for the creation of the Coram Institute.” The Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP, Secretary of State for Education

“I believe everyone ought in duty to do any good they can.” Thomas Coram @Coram Coramsince1739 Coramsince1739 Coram Coram Campus 41 Brunswick Square London WC1N 1AZ Tel: 020 7520 0300 Registered Charity no: 312278

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