Impact report 2018-19
2 Coram Digest 2018/19
Coram exists to champion the rights and welfare of children. Established as The Foundling Hospital in 1739, we are today a group of specialist organisations sharing a common purpose. This Digest highlights the impact we have delivered for children during 2018-19. Over the course of the year, Coram has extended its work across the UK and worldwide, and also completed the third stage of the redevelopment of its campus. This represents an exciting new chapter in our continuing story as we work to realise our vision to further establish Coram as a national centre of excellence.
“At a time when civil society is under financial stress, and the world around us feels increasingly fractured, we feel the need to act, to show our backing for some key organisations, ones that we see as critical to and influential in the sectors we support, and it is for this reason that we have made the decision to endow Coram.” Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation
Welcome 2018 marked the 350th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Coram, whose 17-year campaign championing the rights and welfare of children culminated in the establishment of the countryâ€™s first childrenâ€™s charity in 1739. The vision of our founder continues to inspire and motivate us to this day to achieve change for children, as we wrestle with issues which seem as pressing as those that inspired Coram to act nearly three hundred years ago. Over the last year, the Coram group of charities has helped more children, parents and professionals than ever before. We have worked directly with 130,000 children and young people who needed our help, supported nearly three million across the UK through our education and information services, and reached millions more worldwide through our research and best practice development.
This was a special year, as we welcomed Her Majesty The Queen to open the new Queen Elizabeth II Centre on our Bloomsbury campus. It is only with the help of our valued staff and supporters that we can continue to address the growing demand on our services. This Digest sets out how we have worked to support children over the last year and our vision for the future. You can find out more on our website at coram.org.uk. Together we shall not rest until every child has the security, love and education they need to thrive.
Sir David Bell, President and Chairman
Dr Carol Homden, Chief Executive Officer
Key Achievements Coram marked the 350th anniversary of the birth of our founder Thomas Coram by reaching more children, families and professionals than ever before. Direct beneficiaries increased by 38% to 138,505 and nearly three million users accessed Coram’s specialist information and advice.
The Coram group expanded with the formation of both Coram Beanstalk, promoting volunteer reading help in schools, and Coram Family and Childcare, championing early years entitlements. The group was proud to be re-accredited at Investors in People Gold standard and to work with local authorities across London to form Coram Ambitious for Adoption, the first Regional Adoption Agency in the capital and the first to be provided by a voluntary adoption agency. This year, we paid tribute to our founder with a display on his life and legacy championing children’s rights and welfare. The new illustrated children’s book, Thomas Coram: Champion for Children, was distributed to schools, and a programme of debates addressed the core values of the past and pressing issues affecting children today. The year culminated in the opening of The Queen Elizabeth II Centre by Her Majesty The Queen. This magnificent building at the heart of our regenerated historic campus provides us with the facilities we need to realise our vision as a national centre of excellence for children.
Call for change In the coming year, Coram will play its part in marking the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and continue to champion the eight calls for change set out in our manifesto, Respected and Protected: • Strengthen the legal framework for children • Ensure the voices of children are always heard • Provide secure loving families for children who need them • Realise access to justice for all • Make routes to permanent status fair and accessible • Promote timely and sufficient PSHE, reading and therapeutic support • Tackle education exclusion and ensure early years entitlements • Build capacity and consistent quality in services.
“Coram has always been at the forefront of championing children’s rights” H Judge Tolson QC, Designated Family H Judge at the Central Family Court
Looking to the future We will be building on our launch in June of Coram Ambitious for Adoption, working with the London Borough of Harrow and our partner local authorities to step up recruitment of adopters for children waiting and expand access to our Adoption Support Gateway. Our concerns over the suspension of the Adoption Register for England – run by Coram - by the Department for Education led to a debate in June in the House of Lords. A number of peers highlighted Coram’s excellent work finding permanent families for some of the hardest to place children and urged the government to change course. Coram will continue to advocate for these children and also champion their needs by finding them new families through our Activity and Exchange Days. Coram’s policy specialists will continue to inform the debate on the working of the EU settlement scheme to ensure that children are protected, and will follow up on the Timpson review of school exclusion to enable delivery of best practice across the school system. This activity will be boosted by the outstanding support of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, whose creation of the Hamlyn Endowment will allow us to advance our work in children’s rights and voice to a new level.
2,004 Schools reached
7,405 Professionals trained or advised
25,882 Teachers subscribed to SCARF
138,505 Children and parents helped
427,621 Children supported by Coram’s education and early years services
2,897,729 Digital users of Coram’s specialist advice services
We take a look at Thomas Coram’s remarkable legacy...
1668 Thomas Coram is born in Lyme Regis and goes to sea at the age of 11, going on to settle in America as a shipwright. He returns to London and, frequently shocked by the sight of infants abandoned in the streets, he starts to campaign for the foundation of a foundling hospital.
1954 When the final boarders leave the residential school, the renamed Thomas Coram Foundation for Children extends its pioneering work in adoption, early years and parenting.
1971 Coram establishes its voluntary adoption agency, finding families for children in care, delivering a service today rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.
1739 After a 17-year campaign, Coram receives the Royal Charter for the first charity dedicated to children. The first children are admitted in 1741. Supporters include Hogarth, who donates his portrait of Coram, and Handel, composer of the Foundling Hospital Anthem.
1936 HRH The Duchess of York opens a new centre and headquarters in Brunswick Square (now the Foundling Museum) with new services established on the original London site. Coram’s Fields opens as a playground.
2009 Formation of the Coram group begins with the amalgamation of health, education and wellbeing charity Life Education.
Wellcome Collection. CC BY
Foundling Hospital children are among the first to be successfully inoculated against smallpox, in part thanks to Dr Richard Mead, Coram Governor and a leading physician.
1926 Increased pollution in the expanding capital prompts the relocation of the pupils to Surrey, before a school is built for them in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire in 1935.
2014 Coram celebrates its 275th anniversary by opening the new Coram campus West Wing and Pears Pavilion as part of its ambition to become a national centre of excellence for children. The Foundling Museum celebrates its 10th birthday.
1847 Foundling pupils are encouraged to appreciate music and a successful band is established. Many go on to become musicians in the most prestigious army and navy bands.
1853 Charles Dickens, who featured Foundling characters such as Tattycoram and Oliver Twist in his novels, writes Received, a blank child, the title taken from entry forms which left a space for the childâ€™s name.
2018 As we celebrate the 350th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Coram, Her Majesty The Queen opens The Queen Elizabeth II Centre, dedicated to children and named in her honour. Find out more about Coramâ€™s fascinating history at coramstory.org.uk
Queen opens Coram’s new national centre
Her Majesty The Queen opened the Queen Elizabeth II Centre on 5 December 2018, our national centre of excellence for the advocacy and support of children’s rights. The stunning new building is located at the heart of Coram’s historical site.
More than 100 children, families, staff and friends were presented as part of the visit. The Queen was welcomed on behalf of Coram’s children by an eight-year-old adopted boy, who presented her with a picture about the meaning of family.
Mr Newton spoke of his fond memories of the visit of The Queen’s grandfather to the Foundling Hospital in 1926, telling her: “I remember when your grandmother and grandfather came to visit.” The Queen replied: “That is a very special memory.”
After seeing the Royal Charter of 1739 signed by King George II, The Queen met Edward Newton, the oldest former Foundling Hospital pupil, aged 102, followed by Mia, aged 14 months, one of the youngest children to be supported by Coram.
Celebrating the past During the visit, Coram’s Vice President Asif Rangoonwala formally named the Rangoonwala Conference and Learning Centre in tribute to his grandfather. Life Governor Peter Brown presented a bronze statuette of The Queen, that now graces the entrance of the building that houses Coram Children’s Right’s Centre and children’s social work organisation, Frontline.
Charles Hosea Photography
Clockwise: The Queen and Shylah decorating the Christmas Tree Vice President Asif Rangoonwala The Queen Elizabeth II Centre
“I remember their open carriage arriving and waiting in line to greet them so it is wonderful to meet Her Majesty today. I grew up in the Foundling Hospital and I am grateful that I was given a chance to lead a good life. I came today because I felt I owed it to Coram. I am very happy to support the great work they are doing to help children.” Edward Newton, reflecting on meeting the Queen’s grandfather
Coram Life Education pupils meet The Queen Sam Mellish
The Queen meets Edward Newton and baby Mia Life Governor Peter Brown meets The Queen
Voice of children The finalists of the Voices writing competition, Coram’s annual creative writing competition for children in care and care leavers, gave readings of their work, and The Queen also heard a beautiful performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow by the choir of the Trevor-Roberts School. The Queen then joined eight-yearold Shylah in decorating the Christmas tree with a miniature version of Thomas Coram’s distinctive red coat. Shylah is the daughter of Eve, co-ordinator of the Young Parenthood programme, a peer-to-peer education scheme run in Camden and Islington for teenage pupils.
The Story Centre Coram has ambitious plans to digitise much of the charity’s historic archive. The longest continuing record of children’s social care, it tells the story of tens of thousands of children. It includes fragile fabric tokens attached to the earliest records and letters from desperate mothers petitioning for their baby to be admitted to the care of the Foundling Hospital. Through the Story Centre, housed in The Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Coram will use these stories to launch a programme of creative projects with care-experienced young people. Find out about our state-of-the-art meetings and conference spaces available at the Rangoonwala Conference Centre.
Working together for children Much of Coram’s vital work would not be possible without the support of trusts, companies and individuals. Thank you to all our supporters for your gifts of funds, time and expertise enabling us to create better chances for children.
Club Peloton Our long-standing valuable partnership has now raised over £1.3m for Coram since 2012. 2018 was a record breaking-year raising £335,000, which included pedElle, a cycle challenge for women, raising over £70,000. 140 cyclists embarked on the 1,500km Cycle to MIPIM, with 20 more cyclists pioneering a new route from Bari to Cannes. We can’t thank the Club Peloton cycling community enough for their amazing and ongoing support. Particular thanks go to Nick and Katie Searl who sponsored Coram Voice’s creative writing competition. Nick is Chair of Trustees for Club Peloton and a loyal supporter of Coram’s work. He has worked tirelessly to fundraise through the cycles to MAPIC and MIPIM. Coutts Coutts continued to amaze us with their support, taking part in fundraising events ranging from a music festival to staff completing a 24km SAS Selection test to raise over £95,000. The two-year partnership has raised over £430,000 and reflects our historic connection.
Corporate support Coram works in partnership with corporate supporters to increase resources to deliver greater benefit to children. We would like to thank all our partners for the support we have received this year. Ansvar Insurance, Ecclesiastical and the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation provided further funding for Coram Life Education (CLE). Balfour Beatty continued its support for Adoption Activity Days, CLE and Creative Therapy. Kimpton Fitzroy London Hotel held a wonderful fundraising evening. BVA BDRC, ColladoCollins, Forum for the Built Environment, Hamleys, Havas London, Pakeray, Resolution and Thomas Sinden have provided vital fundraising and volunteering. The coming year will see new partnerships with Hudgell Solicitors, Rede Partners and Cadence Innova, and we have been selected as the staff Charity of the Year for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Singers performing at the Handel Birthday Concert
Club Peloton Cyclists
Fundraising events A total of 57 runners and cyclists took part in challenges including the London Landmarks Half Marathon, Ride London and London Marathon, raising over £100,000. Three intrepid cyclists – Dom Millar, Graham Salisbury and James Findlater – cycled 5,000km around the UK in 29 days as part of their epic 100 Climbs Challenge, raising over £12,000. Coram’s Christmas Celebration, hosted by James O’Brien and featuring readings from Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Pip Torrens, with music from the Trevor-Roberts School choir, raised over £9,000. Coram’s 22nd Handel Birthday Concert raised over £20,000 and featured British tenor Mark Padmore, St Anne’s School Gospel Choir, Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Choristers of the Temple Church, celebrating the work of Pastor Smith.
Sheila’s Fund The Smith family has agreed to allocate money from Sheila’s Fund, set up in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire, to support CLE’s work in the nearby community. The Fund has enabled us to extend our immigration law outreach work to west London. Individual Giving Charter Patrons’ support raised a record £247,000. People remembering Coram in their will, with legacies ranging from £200 to £150,000, raised £267,000. Donations received from kind individuals totalled over £428,000.
“I have remembered Coram in my will. It wasn’t until after my father’s death that I discovered he’d been a Foundling Hospital pupil. Now that I know Coram’s history and how vital they are for vulnerable children, I am proud to leave them a legacy.”
Trusts and Foundations The Paul Hamlyn Foundation gifted the largest donation in our history, creating the Hamlyn Endowment for the Rights and Voice of Children. Esmée Fairbairn Foundation continues its support, with new grants towards the Coram Centre for Impact and the New Belongings project. We are grateful to our many new and returning funders including the Hadley Trust, the Pears Foundation, The Queen’s Trust and new donors the Henry Smith Charity, the Baring Foundation and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, among dozens of other new friends and supporters. There are many ways you can support Coram. To make a donation or to find out more, please contact email@example.com.
Richard, Coram supporter
“We were approved as adoptive parents and a few months later we welcomed a little girl into our family. It’s been the most amazing five years and we’ve been hugely supported by Coram. I feel really good to have run the Marathon and if anyone is thinking about it, I’d say ‘do it, do it, do it!’” hris, Coram adopter and 2019 C London Marathon runner
Championing children’s rights
Too many vulnerable children and young people in the UK do not receive the support, services or accommodation to which they are legally entitled. They need legal information, advice, advocacy and representation in order to fight for their rights. Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) is the leading provider of specialist legal support for children, working to ensure they can access justice both through providing direct support and also by influencing the policy and legal framework in the UK. There have been substantial achievements in legal aid entitlement, routes to permanent status for migrants and EU national children in the UK, and educational exclusion over the last year.
Child Law Advice Coram’s Child Law Advice Service (CLAS), a dedicated website and advice line supported by the Department for Education, remains the only free legal source of information and advice in England on child, family and education law. A new email advice service run by staff, trainee legal students and volunteers helped increase access to helpline services by 14% to 17,379, exceeding targets. Recruiting younger helpline volunteers also supported work with younger clients, with 12 student lawyers from the University of Essex and the University of East Anglia supporting 832 people. Further work is planned with other universities as part of Coram’s HALO programme. Legal Practice CCLC’s Legal Practice Unit supported hundreds of cases providing advice, assistance and representation to mainly legal aid clients across community care law, immigration, asylum and nationality law; education law and family law. Solicitor Sophie Freeman won the Social Welfare category in the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards. Noel Arnold, Director of Legal Practice, was appointed as a Fee-Paid Tribunal Judge of the First Tier Tribunal (Social Entitlement Chamber) and to the board of the Family Justice Observatory. The Legal Practice Unit contributed to CCLC’s evidence to the Government’s post-implementation review of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, and secured funding from Kids in Need of Defence UK to expand its work helping children register as British citizens.
Age assessment The Court of Appeal found that Home Office policy regarding young asylum seekers and age disputes was unlawful, a verdict welcomed by CCLC, which has repeatedly highlighted problems faced by children who arrive alone in the UK and whose age is regularly disbelieved. Following evidence from CCLC and the Refugee and Migrant Childrenâ€™s Consortium, the Home Office has revisited its longstanding policy of assessing age based on visual assessment.
â€œAlthough Habtom*, an asylum seeker from Eritrea, was only 16 when he arrived in the UK, he was transferred to a hostel for destitute adult asylum seekers after being incorrectly ageassessed by social services.
*Stories are real but names have been changed and models are used to protect confidentiality
After our initial involvement, another local authority accommodated him in foster care and also assessed his age. We issued urgent judicial review proceedings to challenge the original decision, because the assessment had not been conducted fairly or lawfully. We prepared opinion evidence from professionals who worked with him and believed he was a child. Based on this and updated contact with him, social services accepted his claimed age and date of birth. He is now looked after in 24-hour supported accommodation with other young people. His age being accepted will help not only with his ongoing support from social services but also with his asylum and trafficking claims. He is receiving counselling from a specialist service for trafficked children to help him to deal with his traumatic past and history of self-harm.â€? J ess, Solicitor with CCLC Legal Practice Unit who represented the case
Securing access to justice Migrant Children’s Project The Migrant Children’s Project (MCP) promotes the rights of all refugee and migrant children, young people and families. It works to ensure that they receive adequate protection and support and that there are routes to permanent status for young people. This year 1,259 children, young people and support workers were advised through free MCP advice and outreach programmes. Reach and impact was increased by the work of young interns, developing their own knowledge and progression while helping 200 young migrants to regularise their status. Workshops on the UK asylum or immigration systems were attended by more than 300 young people, enabling them to feel more confident and more in control of the process affecting their lives. 1,287 front line workers also received MCP training.
The future of European children in the UK CCLC continued to advocate for children’s rights as the EU settlement scheme was taken forward, calling for legal aid to be made available for all EU national children, for local authorities to take positive steps to identify EU national children in their care, and for the government to waive fees currently required from children eligible to register as British citizens. CCLC’s briefing paper EU Settlement Scheme – Concerns & Recommendations, published in August, highlighted the barriers to settlement for children and young people. A subsequent report, Uncertain Futures, set out the risk facing EU national children of becoming a ‘2nd Windrush generation’, unable to access basic services in future years as a consequence of government policy. CCLC’s work received national and international media coverage and CCLC was also represented on the panel of the Foreign Press Association’s Briefing, Lost Citizens of Brexit.
Improving the immigration system The work of CCLC has contributed to a positive shift in the narrative on application fees and routes to settlement. CCLC briefed the Home Affairs Committee in the light of the Windrush scandal to shine a light on the nature of the ‘hostile environment’ for other groups facing barriers to regularisation of citizenship. CCLC also wrote to the Immigration Minister on behalf of the Refugee and Migrant Children’s Consortium, chaired by Coram’s Head of Public Affairs. The subsequent Public Accounts Committee’s report Windrush Generation and the Home Office cited CCLC’s evidence on the cost and complexity of the system, and recommended the government to urgently reduce barriers for young people regularising their status. Government has since announced that most immigration and nationality fees will not be increasing in the next financial year. Though this is a positive step, CCLC continues to work to ensure that no child is unable to regularise their status due to high fees.
Children’s rights in an uncertain world In a wide-ranging lecture, Rights without Remedies: the future of children’s rights in an uncertain world, Sir Keir Starmer, QC MP for Holborn and St Pancras and Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, delivered Coram Children’s Rights Centre’s inaugural address in The Queen Elizabeth II Centre.
He joined Coram in calling for the full incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into UK law. Sir Keir set out the evolution of children’s rights before considering the challenges of Brexit to the rights system. He highlighted the crucial importance of legal aid based on the principle of equal access to and protection under the law for all.
Legal aid and access to justice CCLC’s report Rights without remedies: legal aid and access to justice for children was published ahead of the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) review of changes to legal aid, providing evidence of how the changes were having a negative impact on the lives of many vulnerable children. Further evidence was submitted direct to the review and CCLC provided evidence to the case brought by The Children’s Society against the MoJ regarding legal aid for separated children. This led to the MoJ’s announcement that it would restore legal aid for unaccompanied children’s immigration cases. The MoJ’s final review addressed many of CCLC’s recommendations, including rethinking ‘exceptional case funding’ – the legal aid safety net – and expanding the scope of legal aid to include special guardianship orders in private family law. It also committed to explore an alternative model for family legal aid. In the coming year, CCLC will support local authorities to ensure that looked after children access legal aid and will expand its legal aid practice. Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) The IRM for England, run by CCLC on behalf of the Department for Education, provides independent panels to review decisions made by adoption and fostering providers and ensures these are in the best interests of children. Applications have been at an all-time high.125 were cases heard by the IRM, including 112 fostering applications.
“I’m proud to have Coram in my constituency. Coram’s work today is just as vital as it was 350 years ago. I hold them in high esteem for the fundamental values and beliefs we share... that legally enforceable rights are often the key to allowing children to flourish.” Sir Keir Starmer MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
1,259 children, young people and support workers were advised through free Migrant Children’s Project programmes
105,751 unique visitors to the LawStuff website that gives free legal information to children and young people
2.4m downloads of legal information and advice pages on the Child Law Advice Service website, exceeding target by more than 2m
Tackling educational exclusion Exclusion of children from schools has increased substantially, leaving all too many children, particularly those with special educational needs and disabilities, without the education to which they are entitled. Coram has supported the government-commissioned review of educational exclusion to ensure that the views and experiences of affected children and families were heard to influence policy recommendations. This complemented Coram Children’s Legal Centre’s (CCLC) work helping more than 800 families and pupils in need of legal advice and representation on educational exclusion. Coram’s creative therapy work also supported children in special schools.
Pupils’ and parents’ views on exclusion Coram’s report on school exclusion, Unfair Results: pupil and parent views on school exclusion, published in May alongside the government review, uncovered a worrying lack of support for excluded children and their families. The report offered a rare opportunity to hear from both parents and children and included the views of children and young people with and without personal experience of exclusion, an area largely under-researched to date. It found that 81% of the parents of permanently excluded children surveyed felt that the support they had received in finding an alternative school place for their child was either poor or very poor.
The surveys of pupils both with and without experience of exclusion found that almost two-fifths (39%) were unsure if exclusions were carried out fairly, and nearly twothirds (63%) felt schools should help pupils more with their problems rather than excluding them. Coram is calling for fewer school days to be lost between a student’s exclusion and an alternative school place being found, amid concerns that some students are missing months or even years from school. Local authorities should be legally required to collect this data. To ensure children and families are properly supported throughout the process, Coram is working with partners to improve communications and will produce guidance with children and families to help make the process less damaging for all.
A fair chance
“My son Jayden has autism and special educational needs. Despite the head teacher promising they could meet the needs outlined in his education, health and care plan, they failed to put measures in place. Jayden suffered considerable distress and was excluded from school. I felt let down by them and the local authority that let the situation drag on. He missed nearly a year of school, stuck at home, waiting
“Coram’s research with young people and parents into their views on school behaviour and exclusions has provided invaluable insights that have contributed significantly to the findings and recommendations of my review.” dward Timpson CBE, author E of the Government’s review of school exclusion
for an alternative to be found and his emotional wellbeing plummeted. CCLC helped me bring a claim for disability discrimination for the way he’d been excluded. The tribunal compelled the school to issue a letter of apology for the decision to exclude Jayden and state he could be educated within a school setting with the right support in place.
They helped me to find a new school where he’s doing really well. CCLC were able to secure one to one support, occupational and speech and language therapy. I am so grateful. Without their help, Jayden would not be in school and thriving in his new environment.” Kerry, mother of 13-year-old Jayden who was excluded from school
75% of parents whose child had been temporarily excluded felt support received in preparing for their child’s return was poor or very poor
79% of parents whose children had been excluded said the school’s communication with their child was poor or very poor
81% of parents of children who were permanently excluded said the support they received in finding an alternative school place for their child was poor or very poor
The Young Citizens taking photos for Stranger Series (above) Stranger Series was exhibited at City Hall London (above) A portrait from Stranger Series (right) Youth Rights Trainers (far right)
Young people helping others Coram provides opportunities for volunteering and employment to enable young people to further their own skills and inform services for young people in need. Coram’s innovative Help, Advice and Legal Opportunity (HALO) programme provides opportunities for skilled 16-25 year-olds to help other young people. Developed with the support of The Queen’s Trust, HALO works across all parts of the Coram group, so far recruiting youngpeople into 187 roles and helping some 219,323 beneficiaries who would not otherwise have benefitted from Coram’s vital work changing young lives.
Award-winning Young Citizens Young Citizens, Coram’s ambassador programme for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds, was awarded the prestigious Diana Award. The Young Citizens work to challenge discrimination by using their experiences to make a difference to the lives of others with similar backgrounds. Established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, the award recognises young people who go above and beyond in their daily lives to create positive change. The programme was also shortlisted in The Youth Volunteering and Social Action Award category of the Children & Young People Now Awards 2018. Stranger Series The Stranger Series, produced with mentor and photographer Arteh Odjidja, showcased the achievements and aspirations of young migrants. It has been shortlisted for London Youth’s Visual Art Competition and exhibited at the Refugee Week Conference, the British Museum and City Hall in London.
Tutoring The Young Citizens group identified that speaking English as an additional language can cause an extra barrier to academic study. To tackle this, they worked with University College London to pilot a tutoring programme. They trained students as tutors and matched them with young people from migrant backgrounds in order to help them reach their full potential. Digital Innovators A Digital Youth Board has been set up, made up of care experienced young people who have skill and experience in vlogging and social media. Advising on digital and website content, they have produced a series of ‘how to’ blogs on issues relating to the rights of children in and leaving care, which will be launched in the coming year.
Helping others overcome barriers Young Citizens work with professionals to ensure their voices are heard and effect change. The Young Citizens Belonging Toolkit, featuring films and lesson plans for schools, has been downloaded 495 times with a potential reach of 22,512 pupils. The Young Citizens work included creating a range of informative videos to help others from migrant and refugee backgrounds settle in the UK. The videos include tips on getting into college, setting up a bank account, immigration delays, language and accents and has reached over 1,500 people. More than 50 students from colleges across London attended Breaking Barriers, an event run by the Young Citizens to give young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds the knowledge and confidence to overcome barriers to settling in the UK.
Youth Rights Trainers Many young people are unable to navigate the requirements to achieve settled status or get access to care entitlements. Coram’s Youth Rights Trainers are young people with direct experience who, acting alongside Coram professionals as co-trainers, this year trained 340 professionals to ensure they can provide better support and information to the young people they work with.
“The nomination from Coram for the Young Citizens group was totally inspiring. The focus, commitment, passion and success clearly shone through.” Judges of the Diana Award
187 young people have been recruited as part of HALO since the programme began in 2016
219,323 beneficiaries have received support from HALO’s young people since 2016
Getting young voices heard
In England and Wales there are a record number of children in care. The complexities of the system mean that many young people are unaware of their rights and struggle to access the support they are entitled to. Coram Voice champions their rights. Over the last year Coram Voice worked with 9,401 children in care, care leavers and children dependant on the help of the state to make their voices heard in decisions that matter to them and to improve the system that supports them.
A national gateway for advocacy Coram Voice’s Always Heard service means that for the first time there is a single national advocacy advice service that young people can use to access vital services across the country. It provides an advocacy ‘safety net’ for when things go wrong and young people cannot get advocacy locally. The service is delivered by a helpline team and national network of advocates with the support of volunteers based in London. This year, Always Heard supported children from 145 local authorities, providing 14,000 young people with information on their rights, helping over 6,000 young people access local advocacy services, and crucially providing direct advocacy to 500 young people unable to access the local support they are entitled to. Advocates continue to make a life-changing impact by supporting young people to challenge decisions to move their accommodation when they don’t feel it’s in their best interests. They also help young people to get the support they need to succeed in education, have contact with family and friends and ensure their rights are upheld when in residential and healthcare settings.
“Thank you for everything. You have been there for me when everything started to go upside down… you reassured me and showed me that you cared. You have seen me through to the other side.” A child in care who was supported by an advocate to move from where he was living as he was not happy there
A National Voice Coram Voice’s ambassador programme for care experience young people aged 16-25, A National Voice, has gone from strength to strength. Young people across England have been working to raise awareness of the issues faced by children in and leaving care. Trained in public speaking, the 22 ambassadors have written blogs, taken part in vlogging workshops, attended the first care experienced conference in Liverpool and developed training for trainee social workers.
“Voices 2018 has bought so many opportunities my way, including becoming a National Voice Ambassador and blogger. I’ve read my Voices entry at the launch of the Club Peloton ride and even performed my piece for The Queen! It has improved my confidence in ways I never knew possible; I’m comfortable performing in a role but as myself I’ve always struggled. I’ve had the chance to meet other care experienced young people and a variety of professionals, and talk about my experiences in an honest and vulnerable way without judgement. I’ve published blog posts, including for The Guardian Online. Following this, I was asked to join a conference panel and be a keynote speaker! efore entering Voices I was B ashamed of being care experienced but, as I’ve worked more with Coram Voice, it’s a label I’ve grown to love. Yes, I am a care leaver but I’m awesome, powerful and going to use my voice to empower the lives of other care experienced young people.” Louise, a Voices 2018 creative writing competition finalist who is now a National Voice Ambassador
Specialist advocacy Over 30% of homeless people have a care background and too many children find themselves homeless and unsupported by children’s services. Coram Voice’s specialist homelessness outreach programme seeks to address this. Outreach advocates worked with 250 homeless young people in the last year to provide support and help them to find safe accommodation. Coram Voice develops new advocacy approaches, including those who have a disability, are under 10-years-old, or are leaving care. This work with these young people is used to improve practice across the children’s rights sector. During the year our Specialist Advocates trained more than 130 professionals working with young people leaving care, with disabilities, or who are homeless. Independent Visitors Coram Voice provided 90 children with an Independent Visitor. Independent Visitors play a crucial role for children in care, making sure they have a positive, long term relationship with an adult outside children’s services. Keeping children safe Coram Voice has identified 327 safeguarding concerns about children and vulnerable young people and shared these with the relevant local authorities. Coram Voice advocates were often the first person that children disclosed abuse to, with the swift actions of advocates helping children’s services take steps to make children safe. Young people improving services locally Coram Voice will develop New Belongings, a new programme funded by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Segelman Trust to help care leavers contribute to the development of care services, building on the Your Life Beyond Care survey findings.
Bright Spots – a child’s perspective Bright Spots, a partnership between Coram Voice and the University of Bristol, provides insight into children’s own views of their experience in and leaving care, working with local authorities to highlight good practice, and improve the care journey. The year saw 3,088 children and young people respond to Bright Spots surveys, which were designed with young people. The programme helped 30 local authorities, including seven new to the programme, to understand and respond to what children and young people told them. This year’s national research findings included a report on the pilot programme Your Life Your Care in Wales developed with the Children’s Commissioner and the first analysis of the care leaver survey Your Life Beyond Care, developed with funding from Coram-i. A snapshot of key findings for children in care was also published. A key finding from the three national reports is that children and young people need to understand why they are in care, as many feel this has not been fully explained. One local authority responded by creating workshops for social workers to help them explain to children the complex reasons behind their entry into the care system. They included a video made by a care leaver, who explains the impact of not having a solid explanation when he came into care.
“Bringing care leavers’ voices together creates a big voice that is critical, confident and creative. They are changing what we do for the better, holding the council to account and are not giving up on the Your Life Beyond Care drive for change. Give your care leavers the tools and evidence to lead change.” Liza Zakheim, North Somerset Practice Lead
â€œIt is incumbent on us all to ensure care leavers get the best support possible, so that leaving care feels less like a cliff edge. I want to thank Coram Voice for undertaking this valuable research and hope more local authorities will join next year.â€? adim Zahawi MP, Children, Young People N and Families Minister, at the launch of the Our Lives Beyond Care event for local authorities
1,817 responses from care leavers since the launch of the Your Life Beyond Care survey in 2017
8,002 responses from children in care since the launch of Bright Spots survey in 2013
9,819 total responses to the Your Life Your Care and Your Life Beyond Care, the most comprehensive surveys of the views of children in care and care leavers
“The experience of care is not a straightforward one and needs greater understanding from all of us. There are few things that illuminate it more than these powerful words, chosen by gifted and resilient young people.” Peter Capaldi, actor and host for Voices Competition Awards 2019
Creative expression, creating change Coram works to provide opportunities for young people to access creative arts to share their experiences, increase their social mobility and personal progression, and improve public understanding of the issues they face.
Voices Competition The annual Coram Voice writing competition Voices, celebrates the creative talent and powerful voices of children in and leaving care. Now in its fourth year, 249 young people submitted a moving array of poems and stories. Judges included BBC reporter Ashley John-Baptiste and authors Kit de Waal and Jenny Molloy. The ceremony was generously supported by Nick and Katie Searl, Cadence Innova, Havas London, The Queen’s Trust, and Rosemary and Bernard Mayes.
“My poem felt natural to write as it depicted real experiences in a creative way. I was surprised to have won and even more surprised when a director in the audience offered me a job at Havas Helia. I met various charity managers and fundraisers at the award ceremony, and am thankful to Coram for starting the chain of events that led to this outcome!” Sophia, winner of the Care Leaver Award, pictured above
National Youth Theatre Performance The year has seen a new partnership production with the National Youth Theatre and writer Jamila Gavin to explore the experiences of migrant young people arriving in Kent. Wherever I Lay My Head weaves their testimony into a vibrant ensemble performance which was presented at City Hall at the invitation of the Mayor of London’s peer outreach team. Hear a radio interview with the cast and director to find out more about how the struggles of young migrants’ inspired this piece.
Clockwise: Young people meeting HRH The Duchess of Sussex when she became Patron of the National Theatre
Student and group performing Wherever I Lay My Head
Public Acts with the National Theatre Coram is one of eight children’s charity partners on the National Theatre’s ground-breaking Public Acts programme that uses the arts as a force of change. Young people from backgrounds supported by Coram’s programmes took part in a series of workshops to develop their confidence and skills. This culminated in the production of Shakespeare’s Pericles on the National’s biggest stage with a cast of more than 200. The event created a sense of coming together, achievement and celebration. Next year the production of As You Like It will be performed at The Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch.
“Musical Shakespeare adaptation is a joy” The Guardian 5/5 star review, Aug 2018
“The project has been an amazing way for me to discover new talents and skills. I think a lot of people from migrant backgrounds such as myself do not get the opportunity to go into the creative world because it just isn’t taken seriously in our communities. hat is seen as thriving is W usually viewed through the narrow lens of academia. By giving us this opportunity, people who would never ordinarily have pursued the arts now see it as a viable option.” Michelle, a participant in the National Theatre’s Public Acts programme
Michelle, who performed at the National Theatre
Education for all
Children and young people face a growing array of pressures and challenges as they learn to navigate the world. Coram works to ensure that every child has access to high-quality childcare, and to tackle poor literacy, boost attainment and build life skills and critical thinking. Our aim is that every child can access school and gain the skills and confidence needed to reach their true potential and make positive life choices.
Promoting affordable childcare Children from struggling households are likely to face disadvantages in their development and readiness for school. Coram Family and Childcare’s (CFC) research has highlighted the challenges families face in finding affordable childcare, and kept the issue high on decision makers’ agendas. CFC’s annual Childcare Survey is considered the definitive source of information on the cost and availability of childcare nationwide. This year’s survey, published in February, found that parents now pay an average of £127 per week, or just over £6,600 a year, for a part-time nursery place, representing a huge proportion of the average UK household income (£28,400 in 2018). Even when they can afford it, parents often struggle to find the childcare they need, with nearly half of all areas not having enough available childcare to meet demand from full-time working parents. This is an even bigger problem for parents of children with disabilities and those working irregular hours. Research conducted in partnership with the trade union Unison, Holding on or Moving up, shone a light on the issues that carers of both children and adults face when trying to balance work and care. 65% of respondents believed that the government should do more to help carers and parents at work, and 65% said employers should do more. Half of women said they would have to reduce their working hours if they had caring responsibilities, compared to a third of men. However, researchers found there are solutions that can help people get the right balance: 82% of respondents said if they were a parent or carer, having more control over their hours would help them to balance work and care.
Parent Champions More than 10,000 parents have been supported thanks to the work of 289 Parent Champions, volunteers who are trained to raise awareness of early education, home learning and early support for children with special educational needs and disability. Over 80% of families who have contact with a Parent Champion go on to use a service they have not used before, illustrating the power of these volunteers to help families make changes that improve children’s lives. A National Lottery-funded programme to transform services for young children in Nottingham has commissioned a three-year project putting parents at the heart of decision making about services, and Parent Champions and Parent Ambassadors will work with local decision-makers to shape services.
‘‘I’m proud of setting up the weekly peer-to-peer group at the local library. It’s an opportunity for parents and children to meet others and make friends. It’s a chance for them to take part in activities that are going to improve children’s lives and strengthen the bond between parent and child. The benefit of these activities is that they can then be replicated at home. I love the creativity and the preparation involved in running the group and seeing parents and children interact and have fun. We aim to break barriers and reduce isolation. The biggest benefit for me is seeing people grow in themselves and become confident.” Stella, Parent Champions volunteer
Improving children’s reading Coram Beanstalk joined the Coram group of charities in February 2019. It provides one-to-one volunteer support programmes and training courses to improve the attainment, confidence and enjoyment of reading in early years settings and primary schools. Over the last year, 3,863 helpers have worked with 15,955 children to improve their reading.
“One child, a child in care, has made more progress than his peers in reading this year and is now at an age-related standard.
Training reading volunteers A programme that takes a ‘whole-school’ approach to building a love of reading and closing the attainment gap was launched for reading volunteers in primary schools.
ngela Anderton, Headteacher, A St. James Church of England Junior School, Gloucester reflects on the impact of Coram Beanstalks reading programme
ne child who struggles with O English said: ‘When I’m reading, I believe that I can be in a story one day.’”
Story Starters Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of Coram Beanstalk, was welcomed to Liverpool Central Library to mark two years of Coram Beanstalk’s Story Starters.
HRH The Duchess of Cornwall celebrates Story Starters which trains volunteers to work with children aged 3-5 and introduces them to the world of books and stories
Liverpool Library and information services
Supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund, the programme ensures children gain the language and literacy skills they need to start school and flourish in their learning. 400 volunteers have worked in 200 early years settings to support 1,800 young children to enrich their language skills and get on track for reading success.
Tomorrow’s Achievers The Tomorrow’s Achievers programme provides specialist masterclasses for exceptionally able children in many parts of the country. It has supported 530 primary-aged children, providing bursaries to enable open access to disadvantaged children in the past year. “Our
masterclasses are designed to help schools and parents support more able children to realise their potential through problem-solving using maths, science, drones, coding and the Rubik’s Cube. During one workshop, a student who already had a Rubik’s Cube said she found it fun but could never solve it. We talked, and she made a paper Rubik’s Cube that would never be other than solved because it had no moving parts: a funny and very clever solution. As the day went on, I discovered these were very clever children from deeply challenging situations with very little money and certainly no easy route, if any, to getting into university or realising their true potential. Final thoughts on what one day can mean for children? The answer to the human problem was not simply one of terra forming (child’s phrase) other planets, because it would be ‘the same homosapiens building the new world’ and nothing would change. The solution was ‘time, education and learning to love and understand each other to end wars and then build other worlds.’” John, tutor with Tomorrow’s Achievers
Mental health and wellbeing
Statutory Relationships Education CLE has campaigned for the emotional and physical health of children to be placed at the heart of their learning experience as they prepare for adulthood, through inclusion on the national curriculum. This was finally achieved as the government announced that from September 2020, all schools will be required to deliver relationships education in primary schools and relationships and sex education in secondary schools.
Currently delivering education in over 2,000 schools directly and through its SCARF programme, CLE’s programmes promoting better understanding of physical and emotional wellbeing fully meet the requirements of the new curriculum. CLE’s services will be at the heart of delivering this new statutory requirement across the country in the coming year. Promoting children’s rights in schools To celebrate the 350th anniversary of Thomas Coram’s birth, CLE produced a free school assembly package complementing the Captain Coram teaching module promoting children’s rights. A crowdfunding campaign ensured primary schools across London received the new Captain Coram: Champion for Children, and a major donor extended this reach across England. This enabled more children to learn about the origins of children’s rights and welfare. In the coming year, Coram will grow peer reading in schools, extend the Parent Champions programme for disadvantaged families and support the implementation of statutory relationship education in schools, helping delivery of a whole school approach to wellbeing.
A pupil with Harold, the giraffe, an advocate for health and wellbeing for children and their familes, as part of CLE
Coram Life Education (CLE) is the largest national provider of support to children’s personal, social, health and economic education in schools. A network of 20 delivery partners works with schools to deliver tailored education sessions and online resources to help children navigate their lives both on and offline, develop positive friendships and relationships, understand and deal with feelings and peer influence, and know where to go for help. This year saw targeted support to schools in the shadow of Grenfell Tower. CLE also works with schools in Finland, Barbados and Cyprus.
Coram Digest 2018/19 29 31
“All staff and pupils understand the SCARF code, which promotes safety, care, achievement, resilience and friendship. The focus upon warm relationships of mutual respect creates a calm and purposeful atmosphere for learning.” fsted Report 2019 for King’s Ford Infant O School and Nursery, Essex, highlights the impact of SCARF
74% of children showed an improvement in reading ability after working with a Coram Beanstalk reading helper
3,161 children have taken up free early education, thanks to the work of 289 Parent Champions across 52 schemes nationwide
25,882 teaching professionals registered for SCARF resources
Loving families that last
Every year thousands of children enter care as a result of challenges they face within their birth families. Most are able to return home, or are supported in foster care, but some are adopted by permanent loving families. Coram runs one of the largest and most successful independent adoption agencies in the UK, judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. Over the last year Coram directly placed children across our three locations in East Midlands, Cambridgeshire and London.
Coram Ambitious for Adoption This year, Coram has worked with the London Borough of Harrow and seven authorities across London to launch Coram Ambitious for Adoption, the capital’s first Regional Adoption Agency (RAA). It brings together expertise to more quickly match greater numbers of children with adopters waiting to be adopted more quickly with their new families. Ambitious for Adoption is the only RAA to be delivered by a voluntary adoption agency. The new RAA will be the first port of call for adoption enquiries on behalf of participating local authorities and will provide access to adoption support for all of its adoptive families. It was launched in June 2019 jointly with the London Boroughs of Harrow, Redbridge and The City of London and will be joined in the coming year by more boroughs, including Bromley and Waltham Forest, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster, along with Slough Children’s Services Trust.
“I.t is great to see the first Regional Adoption Agency go live in London, helping make sure every child has access to a safe, loving home that’s right for them.” adhim Zahawi, Children, Young People N and Families Minister
“Through this initiative we’ll be in a stronger position to find prospective family homes for vulnerable children in our borough. A regional agency will widen the net of potential adopters, share expertise and ideas and ensure children and adopters get a consistent level of support.” Cllr Elaine Norman, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Redbridge Council
Finding permanent families for children Recruiting more adopters and foster carers Coram has continued to encourage and support prospective adopters to come forward and give children the best chance of finding the loving family they need. First4Adoption online resources have been visited by 244,240 unique enquirers, with 8% of those going on to request further information.
Adoption activity days Adoption activity days continue to be one of the main family finding opportunities for children and adopters who are waiting to be matched, allowing them to meet in an informal and fun environment. Children can participate in finding their own family and see if there is potentially a new family right for them.
National Adoption Week, delivered by Coram and involving 48 agencies alongside an ongoing partnership with Mirror Group Newspapers, secured an increase in enquiries from the previous year. Coram hosted the National Adoption Awards, attended by the Children, Young People and Families Minister, to recognise the achievement of social workers, adoption champions and agency practitioners across the country.
Over the last year 482 children met 314 potential adopters, resulting in 118 matches from the 20 adoption activity days. Coram has successfully pioneered activity days for fostering, supporting 16 children to be placed permanently with foster families. This included a sibling group of two, a child with complex disabilities and two teenagers who were able to move in with a foster family from residential provision.
In the coming year, Coram will again deliver National Adoption Week and will broaden the charityâ€™s range of resources through Be My Family, adding information on step-parent adoptions and special guardianship orders.
Adoption Match The Adoption Register for England was introduced in 2002 to ensure that all children waiting for adoption, including some of the hardest to place children in the country, were visible and could benefit from an independent search for the lasting family they needed. Coram ran the service, known as Adoption Match, for three years until it was ended by the Department for Education (DfE) in March 2019. In its final year, the service enabled matches for 276 children who had been on the Register for an average of 186 days, making it the largest single matching agency. Coram was disappointed by the DfE’s decision to close the Register, and the issue has been debated in Parliament, most recently on 18th June when peers voted to express their regret at the government’s decision.
Finding foster carers across London A new partnership with Croydon Council was launched to recruit and assess 60 foster carers on the authority’s behalf over two years, delivering this vital function before reintegrating it back into the Council’s fostering service. Coram-i will partner with My Foster Family, not-for-profit fostering recruitment specialist to encourage more prospective Muslim foster carers, and diversify its programme with other authorities in London.
Coram’s CEO also gave a number of interviews to the media, including The Guardian, ITV News and Sky News setting out her concern at the loss of the service. Coram supports the restoration of the register while also pioneering new approaches aimed at getting more children matched quicker.
A happy home for Lewis Lewis, aged 8, found his adoptive parents Sharon and Chris (pictured here) after taking part in one of Coram’s Adoption Activity Days. His moving story was featured in the highly emotive Channel 4 documentary, Finding Me a Family, viewed by 1.6 million people. Lewis and his parents also met Her Majesty The Queen during her visit to Coram exactly a year to the day that he moved in with his adoptive parents in time for Christmas. Sharon has been volunteering at Coram’s Adoption Activity Days so she can share the couple’s experiences with prospective adopters and talk about the advantages of adopting older children.
“Lewis is doing amazingly well. We’re all very settled. We can’t believe that he has now been home for 19 months. He’s doing really well at school, winning awards and is in the hockey team. Lewis has been promoted at his tennis club four times and just joined a football team. He has changed so much and is such a happy go lucky little boy.” Sharon, who adopted Lewis with her husband Chris after attending an adoption activity day
Achieving best practice in adoption Advancing practice Throughout the year, Coram delivered initiatives through the Practice Improvement Fund to pioneer new approaches to support adopted children. Care for Me First supported London adopters to be dually approved as foster carers to enable the early placement of infants. Specific support was also offered to adopters with young children through stay and play groups (delivered with peer support organisation We Are Family), providing early access to a child psychotherapist to identify any emerging issues. Coram developed the Quality Mark in Early Permanence as an independently assessed tool to help agencies develop their practice on the basis of nationally agreed criteria. CCS Adoption and One Adoption, West Yorkshire received the Quality Mark in the past year, with many others working towards submission. This forms part of the national strategy to achieve consistency in the delivery of early permanence across the country.
Sibling assessment and placement Former winner of the Excellence in Practice Award for early placement in 2015, Coram Cambridgeshire Adoption (CCA) this year demonstrated its track record in sibling placement with the publication of new guidance and training tools. Since CCA was established in 2014 as the first voluntary adoption agency to deliver a county council’s service, it has placed 241 children for adoption, exceeding expectations. Following the Council’s decision to partner regionally with Peterborough Council when the contract reaches its term, CCA will transfer to a new provider, bringing to a close Coram’s five years of service to children in the county. Pioneering collective matching At a time of a national shortage of adopters, it is vital to make timely placements. The Coram-i programme Collective Matching, which works with 20 adoption agencies nationwide, seeks to ensure all children and adopters are considered simultaneously to maximise the number of appropriate matches.
Raising awareness of adoption
There are children who need a home and people out there ready to adopt. I think that’s something that will resonate with everyone in our communities.” Veronica*, a Coram adopter who featured in an awareness campaign to encourage more prospective adopters from Black and Asian Minority Ethnic communities to come forward
*Stories are real but names have been changed and models are used to protect confidentiality
“In our culture there tends to be a focus on getting married and having children and if any issues come up, adoption isn’t something that’s always considered. We need to dispel myths around adoption.
Adoption support Around 250 children and their families in London and the East Midlands benefitted from Coram’s range of post-adoption support, described as ‘excellent’ by Ofsted. Adoptive parents were offered training on how to handle the challenging task of talking to a child about how and why they came to be adopted, as well as referral to Coram’s clinical team along with access to the Adoption Support Gateway and parenting programmes. This replicated the work of Coram’s postadoption service in Kent, where the clinical team supported 235 families with post adoption support assessments. The Adoptables Issues faced by adopted young people are addressed through the work of The Adoptables, a national peer network for young ambassadors aged 13-25. This year, they worked to bring young adoptees’ perspectives to the design of new Regional Adoption Agencies across London and elsewhere. In the coming year, the group will develop Telling My Story, a new guide to help adopted children share their background story more confidently with others.
“As I’ve grown up, my own understanding of being adopted has changed - I started to see it as a part of my life I should explore rather than hide away. The most important lesson for adoptees is that it isn’t what the past did to you; it’s what the future can offer. Being adopted carries its challenges, but ultimately it is hugely positive and has changed my life for the better.” Jake, a member of The Adoptables
“Adoption provides a child with an opportunity to grow up in a stable and loving family where the adults will strive to provide nurturing and reparative care.” Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division of the High Court, speaking at Coram on Universal Children’s Day
10% of adoptions in England were made possible by Coram services
276 children around the country were matched with prospective adopters by Adoption Match (5% of all matches made)
118 children were matched with prospective adopters through Adoption Activity Days
*Stories are real but names have been changed and models are used to protect confidentiality
Enabling parents to support their children Coram provides parents with the support and advice they need at all stages of parenthood. If parents are struggling to cope, Coram offers early help so they can become empowered to provide a loving and secure environment for their child, or, if that is not possible, ensure that a timely decision about the child’s future is made for the benefit of the child. Maintaining the charity’s strong historical association with the arts, Coram continues to support hundreds of children, who have special educational needs or early adverse experiences, through the pioneering use of creative therapies while drama and writing are at the heart of Coram’s young people’s programmes.
Community parenting in Thurrock Coram continues to work with Thurrock Borough Council to deliver a range of accredited parenting programmes and one-to-one parenting interventions. These focus on building family resilience and strengthening family and community attachments. The past year has seen an increase in referrals where physical chastisement is a concern. The work is underpinned by the belief As a result, an adapted version of the that parents can change and that the parenting programme Strengthening court has a role as an agent of change. Families, Strengthening Communities When this is not possible, FDAC works will be piloted to increase parental to ensure that parents are treated self-esteem and consider alternatives fairly in court proceedings. to physical chastisement. Coram works with the Tavistock and Early intervention Portman NHS Foundation Trust to Creative therapists, health implement FDAC across ten London professionals and early years boroughs, as one of nine specialist FDAC educators collaborated to provide teams across the UK. 66 families across early intervention to parents and London have had access to this children with the first signs of social pioneering approach over the past year. and communication difficulties. The project aimed to provide parents In the coming year, FDAC will continue with easy access to professionals, to build expertise in recognising the including music therapists and impact of early developmental trauma and will use Video Interaction Guidance speech and language therapists, so that they can get the right help for to help parents rebuild relationships their children as early as possible. with their children. Managing risk for children Better outcomes for children and families during care proceedings is the aim of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC). It offers an alternative, more successful, way of supporting parents to overcome substance misuse, mental health, and domestic abuse issues that have put their children at risk of serious harm.
“Lucy* was referred to Coram for music therapy sessions when she was having difficulties at school. Gradually, we were able to explore different sounds, instruments and song writing, so Lucy could try out new ways of expressing herself. Through this process, she developed a particular interest in the guitar.
Creative therapy in schools Teenagers in or at risk of being involved in the criminal justice system were among those supported by Coram’s art therapists over the past year, as part of Coram’s continued work with Kensington and Chelsea Council. Coram continued to provide art therapy for young people who have been excluded from mainstream education in specialist schools in Camden to help address behavioural and communication difficulties. Therapists aim to develop positive connections with peers and staff and improve educational attainment for students.
Now she has one at home she’s practising hard and showing everyone just how capable and talented she is. At one point music therapy was one of the only things Lucy would engage with, and it is wonderful to see how much progress she has made since then.
Her teachers have been able to see a whole new side to her. She has found her voice, and it has been a joy to see her grow and progress like this.” Music Therapist at Coram
Her confidence has grown and she is thriving.
Improving the sleep of children in care A new approach to improve the sleep of children in care is being developed by Coram. This was initially developed out of the experiences of unaccompanied asylum seeking children, who had typically travelled at night in a state of high alert and then slept during the day. Once settled, these children often had difficulty in adapting to a normal day/night pattern, hampering their education and daily life. The work found that discussion of sleep problems with young people can be less stigmatising than discussion of mental health issues, thereby encouraging young people to access the support they need.
“If you can catch problems early on, you have so much better a chance of a child staying in their family, getting them into school and getting the family on its feet.” Polly Toynbee, Guardian journalist, speaking at Coram’s Universal Children’s Day event
Promoting children’s rights worldwide Coram International is a world leader in the protection of children’s rights globally, through research, situational analysis and public policy activity work across 29 countries worldwide. Our partners include the UK Home Office and Save the Children, and we hold preferred status as consultants to UNICEF in New York, East Asia and the Pacific region. We have worked in the following countries on issues that include violence against women and children, child protection and trafficking, and young people and the criminal justice system: Armenia, Belize, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Indonesia, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia, Moldova, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia.
Child Protection Coram International’s pioneering 2018 Thailand child protection assessment report has been lauded by UNICEF and has provided the foundation for the Thai government’s work to strengthen child protection systems. Collaboration continues with UNICEF and government partners in Nigeria to provide legal and technical assistance to federal and state ministries across the country. Coram International drafted the Lagos State Family Court Rules with the Chief Judge’s technical working group and these have now come into force. It also drafted Court Rules for Cross River State and Child Care and Protection Regulations for both states, that will come into force later this year. Policy work on children’s rights Drawing on its technical legal expertise, Coram International provided recommendations for legal and policy change to governments in the Philippines and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Liberia. It also helped improve the monitoring of child rights in Montenegro and Uzbekistan. Coram International worked with the Inter-American Development Bank to help shape the future of legal aid for children in Belize. This involved field missions to map demand and the design of a pilot legal aid programme for children in conflict with the law and children within the child protection system.
De-institutionalisation of children UNICEF Myanmar has contracted Coram International to undertake a quantitative and qualitative assessment of residential care facilities in Myanmar to drive a breakthrough in reducing the use of institutional care. The team will be gathering evidence about the number of children in residential care and their conditions, and will develop monitoring tools to enable local authorities to inspect all institutions comprehensively in the future. Analysis worldwide Coram International has authored a number of influential reports published by UNICEF over the past year, as well as a regional review of the situation of children in the Pacific Islands. Continuing work with UNICEF Libya will follow up on the findings of the 2017 study on Violence Against Children in Schools to drive reform of the country’s youth justice system. Over the course of 2019, Coram International will conduct research in Zambia on sexual gender based violence against children and will be completing research on alternative care for children in Nigeria.
Trafficking and slavery Coram International recently completed a two and a half year research study funded by the Home Office on the prevalence of child trafficking and labour exploitation in Vietnam, which included a household survey of 3,885 children and young people. It fills what has until now been a significant gap in research, identifying the factors that put children at particular risk. The study, which was carried out with the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs in Vietnam, has generated great interest within the government of Vietnam, and will be launched in partnership with the government in Hanoi later this year.
“The research captures the reality of child trafficking in Vietnam – it will allow us to understand the scope of the problem, the underlying causes and who is at risk. Coram’s approach helped us to expand the way we think about trafficking and it will help us come up with better solutions.”
Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs, Vietnam
Solutions to contemporary challenges Children and young people experience variable access to the support they need, both globally and in the UK. As well as delivering the services young people need, we develop the solutions to emerging issues and influence policy and practice through our evidence. We use research and evaluation to inform debate and enable professionals to deliver change.
Past, present and future Coram brings its unique historical perspective to shaping the future direction of policies affecting children. Events held at Coram during the last year included: Rights without Remedies – a seminar led by Sir Keir Starmer QC MP to debate the future of children’s rights in an uncertain world Future Challenges in Upholding Children’s Rights – led by Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division of the High Court, with Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee and Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield In the Footsteps of Thomas Coram – an event with Sir Al Aynsley- Green, the first Children’s Commissioner for England, who led a debate on the issues raised in his new book, The British Betrayal of Childhood Inspiring women – Cressida Dick, the first female Metropolitan Police Commissioner, came to Coram to address the challenges for women and girls who aspire to leadership roles.
Data visualisation in social care
These stills from a dynamic mapping video show dots to indicate children moving around the care system. It depicts speed of progress and highlights those caught in the system, enabling earlier professional intervention.
A ‘teachable moment’ – reducing knife crime The complex range of contributing factors to knife crime were highlighted at Coram’s first sector-wide knife crime seminar. Panel members included Dr Ann Hagell, from the Association for Young People’s Health, and John Poyton, of Redthread, which works with victims in major trauma hospitals, explored themes including: • R eframing the perception of knife crime as not just a criminal act but considering it from a public health perspective • A ddressing the wider context of distress, deprivation and social injustice • T he importance of outreach workers talking to victims in A&E and seizing this ‘teachable moment’ to engage with young people. Coram aims to probe beneath ‘headline-grabbing’ media coverage and in the coming year will work with
partners to find solutions to tackle knife crime. Coram’s Institute will also lead the debate on issues such as the legal basis for the detention of children.
made for a child to go into care, but instead for a child to live at home or with relatives. Earlier studies critically suggested this was successful and the next stage will look at its longer term effectiveness.
Impact and evaluation Coram’s Centre for Impact provides evaluation, analysis and development services across the organisation and the sector. In the last year, Coram delivered external evaluation for:
In the coming year, the Centre will work as an evaluator for the What Works Centre for children’s social care.
• t he Carer’s Trust Young Carers in Schools programme, highlighting 94% of schools said they were more likely to know what to do if they identified a young carer
Joining forces: Coram’s collaborative campaigns work Coram has joined other leading children’s charities in collective calls to keep children’s rights on the government’s agenda.
• t he Department for Education (DfE), on the challenges of implementing projects to help children with disabilities to ‘step-down’ from residential care into specialist foster care
Ahead of the 2018 Budget, Coram was one of 120 organisations supporting the Children at the Heart campaign, calling for children and young people to be put at the heart of government spending plans.
• a DfE innovation project to support families so that an application to court need not be
If children in social care are to be supported in the right way at the right time, professionals need to have a clearer picture of how children progress through the different pathways of social care. That is why Coram and its partners the Alan Turing Institute and Kent County Council, supported with funding from the Nuffield Foundation, have developed a new data visualisation prototype. It detects where children are becoming stuck in the system at an early stage, so that professionals can intervene earlier and offer more effective support.
the government to do more to ease the transition into adulthood of 16 and 17 year-olds, who frequently face issues such as mental ill health, poverty and homelessness with inadequate support.
In April this year, Coram teamed up with 12 other charities calling on
The project has generated considerable interest and will be developed further in the coming year. Complementary work with North Yorkshire County Council and the University of Bristol, also supported by Lancaster University and University College London, has linked care data with care proceedings data, using this to visualise children’s care journeys.
“We desperately need access to data and a visual presentation is worth so much more.” ir James Munby, Chair of the S Nuffield Family Justice Observatory and former President of the Family Division of the High Court
Sharing best practice in adoption and fostering CoramBAAF is the national membership organisation for adoption and fostering professionals, foster carers and adopters and anyone else working with or looking after children in or from care. CoramBAAF’s membership includes 144 of the 155 local authorities and Crown Dependencies in England, all 22 local authorities in Wales (with Afa Cymru as partners), all five health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland and all local authorities in Scotland (through AFA Scotland). CoramBAAF has seen 95% of adoption and fostering agencies retain their membership, making it the UK’s largest network of adoption agencies and individuals with the shared aim of working together to secure the best outcomes for children.
Sharing the latest developments CoramBAAF’s monthly Adoption & Fostering Digest reached more than 6,000 members, largely professionals in adoption, fostering and childcare, with coverage of the latest sector developments. Four editions of the peer-reviewed journal Adoption & Fostering were published, receiving over 42,000 downloads, testifying to the journal’s influence in the sector. Notable papers included those on: children in foster care; children engaged in loyalty conflict; and the experiences of Muslim young people in foster care.
CoramBAAF published a number of handbooks and good practice guides for members. These included a guide on placing siblings, Beyond Together or Apart the first guide on supporting the mental health of looked after and adopted children and the first guide to help fostering agencies comply with the General Data Protection Regulation and data protection law. Practice notes and briefings tackled the assessment of transgender applicants, the regionalisation of adoption services, and smoking and e-cigarettes.
Strengthening fostering provision Fostering Across Borders, funded by the EU, aims to strengthen fostering provision across Austria, Belgium, Greece, Poland, Luxembourg and the UK. CoramBAAF is the lead UK delivery partner, working with Coram Contributions from birth parents and young people featured in a conference Children’s Legal Centre. A programme for foster carers on caring for on contact in adoption addressed by Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the unaccompanied migrant children is now complete, with nearly 100 Family Division of the High Court. professionals receiving training. Courses for professionals included A training manual and booklets for those on positive behaviour carers will be published later this year. management and promoting positive identity in children. Enhancing knowledge CoramBAAF held a range of conferences, with those on sibling placements and non-violent resistance in fostering being particularly well attended.
Lifetime achievement Dr John Simmonds, OBE, CoramBAAF’s Director of Policy, Research and Development, was recognised with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Adoption Week Awards 2018.
These were among a range of publications launched in the last year
Advancing practice CoramBAAF played an active role in the first phase of establishing the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, which will support the best possible decisions for children by improving the use of research evidence in the family justice system. The past year has seen members’ interests represented at numerous national policy forums, including the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board and the Kinship Care Alliance.
“The advice given adds weight to the debates held internally and especially when in the court arena. I welcome the opportunity of checking out practices and processes with an independent organisation.” athy Scott, Birmingham Children’s Trust, K on CoramBAAF’s advice service
CoramBAAF also presented on early permanence at the International Conference on Adoption Research in Montreal, and on adoption and kinship care at the Association of the Children’s Welfare Agencies conference in Sydney.
In the coming year, CoramBAAF will further develop services to support regional adoption agencies and will conduct reviews of special guardianship with the Family Justice Observatory.
“A clear, readable guide written by authors who understand how fostering services and foster carers work, the day-to-day issues, pressures and dilemmas they face, and therefore what actions are practical for services to implement to comply with the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018.” Fiona Darlington-Black, Head of Service, Cornerways Fostering Services on CoramBAAF’s new guide on GDPR compliance
local authorities, health and social care trusts, fostering providers, voluntary adoption agencies and associates are members of CoramBAAF
2,000 enquiries were handled by CoramBAAF’s professional advice service, with specialist consultants providing guidance on complex policy and practice issues
42,000 full text downloads of CoramBAAF’s Adoption & Fostering quarterly journal for professionals
Coram group: better chances for children Coram is the UK’s oldest children’s charity and has been supporting vulnerable children for 280 years. Coram today is a group of specialist organisations helping more than a million children, young people, professionals and families every year in four thematic areas. coram.org.uk Children’s Rights and Voice
Adoption and Permanent Families
Education and Early Years
Coram Children’s Legal Centre is the dedicated children’s rights centre in the UK, upholding the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child through specialist legal advice, practice and policy development.
Coram Ambitious for Adoption is the first Regional Adoption Agency to be launched in London by a group of local authorities and Coram to make the adoption process quicker and simpler.
Coram Life Education is the leading provider of personal, social, health and economic education to almost half a million children across the UK, Finland, Barbados and Cyprus.
Coram Voice gets young voices heard in decisions that matter to them and works with them to improve the lives of children in care, leaving care and those who depend on the help of the state.
Coram Adoption East Midlands is an Ofsted ‘outstanding’ independent adoption agency which is known for the quality of the long-term support it provides for adopted children and families.
Coram children’s services include creative therapies, parenting support and young people’s programmes.
Coram Cambridgeshire Adoption is an Ofsted ‘good’ adoption agency working jointly with Cambridgeshire County Council with funding from the Department for Education.
Coram Family and Childcare works to make sure that every child has access to high quality childcare and every parent is better off working once they have paid for childcare.
Coram Beanstalk is a national children’s charity that has been providing evidence-based, impactful reading support programmes for over 45 years. beanstalkcharity.org.uk
“I urge you to consider how you can use your courage, compassion and commitment and ask what each of us can do to help one child today.” Sector Insight and Capacity Building
CoramBAAF is a multi-disciplinary membership organisation supporting agencies and professionals who work with children and acts as an advocate on behalf of its members across the UK. corambaaf.org.uk
Coram-i works with local authorities to help them improve their services for looked after children and provides national services in insight and innovation. coram-i.org.uk
Coram International is a research institution and consultancy, specialising in a wide range of issues relating to children’s rights around the world, staffed by child rights lawyers and socio-legal researchers. coraminternational.org
Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the first Children’s Commissioner for England and Professor Emeritus of Child Health, University College London, speaking on the legacy of Thomas Coram
“I believe every one ought, in duty, to do any good they can” Thomas Coram, 1738
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