As the faces behind a charity focused on supporting children and young people living in a range of residential homes, it's clear this trio care about care.
Wendy Nerac, Steve Harvey and Allison Le Blancq all run Brightly - formerly known as Brig-y-don Children’s Charity - which helps children and young people up to the age of 25 through individual grants.
"These grants aim to ensure that these children and young people are able to enjoy an array of personal experiences, such as sports activities, hobbies, opportunities to fulfil further education and training, and home starter items when moving into semi-independent or independent accommodation," the trio explained.
For Express, Allison, Wendy and Steve have shared five things that they believe would make a positive difference to the children and young people they are dedicated to helping...
1. Focus on wellbeing
Apart from providing food and shelter for their children, the majority of loving parents provide all sorts of intangible support to their children that forms an invisible safety net of love and nurturing, which promotes personal growth and fortifies resilience. Thereby a child knows that there is someone always there for them, promoting them and their best interests.
Pictured: Brightly wants the whole island to rally behind care-experienced children.
For a child in the care system, this feeling of wellbeing and unconditional support can be absent from their experience. Instead, they are often subject to feelings of otherness and isolation.
People in Jersey know that children in care, just like every child, need to experience love and belonging and for the community to act upon this knowledge. We would like everyone to promote the wellbeing and best interests of care-experienced children and young people to ensure they have the best start and opportunities in life.
2. A helping hand into adulthood
Although the commonplace saying ‘once a parent always a parent’ usually applies in families, it is often different for those growing up in care, as the care system operates in very different ways to a typical family.
Pictured: Young people shouldn't be dropped when they leave care.
Accordingly, it is common for young people to be pretty much discarded by the system the moment they leave care, which in Jersey is usually between the ages of 16 and 18. This means it is typically left to charities to support teenage care leavers as they strive to live independently.
Accordingly, we would like to see appropriate support given by the States to care leavers under the age of 25, as they are supported towards independence and adulthood. Given these young people have often had to cope with major and significant changes in their short lives this transition should be a positive, landmark step.
3. States accountability is key
The States of Jersey are the so-called ‘corporate parent’. This term describes an organisation who has special responsibilities for care-experienced children and young people. In simple terms, a 'corporate parent' is required to carry out many of the roles a parent would. The health, wellbeing and lives of young people are closely connected to their housing, employment and education as well as the personal and social support available to them.
Pictured: According to Brightly, the States should be held accountable for providing local children and young people with what they need.
It is often left to Brightly and other charities to ensure that many of the things that, under different circumstances the ‘bank of mum and dad’ would cover are actually provided. Therefore, we would like to see the rights and entitlements of people with care-experience clearly expressed and understood by all, and the States held accountable for providing these.
4. Address the foster carer shortage
There will always be children and young people needing to be cared for by the States, indeed this is a situation faced across the UK in both large and small communities. The general view is that a family situation, that is as close to a typical family as possible, provides the best setting for care.
As well as providing appropriate and comprehensive support to existing foster carers, action is needed to address the shortage of foster carers. Jersey, for many reasons, struggles to recruit, and retain, foster carers so we would like to see a thorough exploration as to what prevents people in Jersey becoming, and remaining, foster carers.
We would then like to see the States taking appropriate action to address these barriers and ensure that existing and potential foster carers are appropriately supported. We would also like to see measures being taken to enable more people to become, and remain, foster carers in Jersey. Foster carers who deliver high quality care and have a consistent parenting style are vital.
5. One for all and all for one!
Any young person seeking to independently establish himself or herself knows very well how difficult this can be, for those who are leaving care the challenges are usually even greater. There is a critical need to ensure there is adequate, affordable and appropriate accommodation for care-experienced people in the island.
Pictured: The States need to work more closely with local organisations to ensure care-experienced people can find appropriate accommodation to leave in.
The final change we would like to see is closer partnerships between statutory and third sector organisations in order to provide more affordable and appropriate accommodation for care-experienced people on the island so they can move forward.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Bailiwick Express.
Lead photo - from left: Wendy Nerac, Fundraiser, Steve Harvey, Chief Executive, and Allison Le Blancq, Coordinator.