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Looked After Children-Promoting Equality of Opportunity

  • Thursday, 08 December 2022
  • Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre
  • 08:30 - 16:30
Expert Speakers
Sponsors & Supporters
  • Overview

Due to delegate demand and over subscription, Open Forum Events are pleased to present an additional conference focusing on the lives of children in care and those transitioning out of the system. Based on favourable feedback from three prior events, the Looked After Children-Promoting Equality of Opportunity will bring together those who are campaigning, promoting and working to support equal opportunities and better life chances.

The conference programme will examine the latest developments within children’s social care provision and look to highlight some of the disparities experienced by looked after children with reference to addiction, homelessness, educational achievement and criminal exploitation.  Attendees will receive an update on the numbers within the care system and learn of the issues created from regular transfer of placement, whilst a review of the government funding for adoption will be discussed as a possible solution in providing permanent homes. Examples of best practice will be shared to inform and inspire professional practice, with the intention to improve outcomes and enhance lives.

With its reputation for hosting quality conferences focusing on children’s services, Open Forum Events invites you to a day of informative plenary sessions, delivered by expert speakers, discussion forums and networking opportunities.

Book you place today at this CPD accredited conference, as past experience has shown, tickets sell out fast.


  • Confirmed Speakers

  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair's Opening Address


Keynote Address

"My Story"

Jackie tells her powerful and deeply moving testimony, as she shares her own experience of accessing her records and understanding her care experience.

  • Julie Bunn, Chair of NAVSH/VSH NYCC, National Association of Virtual School Heads (confirmed)
"Removing Education Barriers"

What works well for Children in Care? Update from the National Association of Virtual School Heads. How to encourage Learning Homes and Caring Schools. Attachment Research Community and NAVSH Call to Action to make all schools trauma aware. How to improve the numbers of children in care in Higher Education. The role of the Designated teacher and how to effectively use Personal Education Plans and Pupil premium plus.

  • Natalie Dixon, National Programmes Development Manager, Barnardos- Care Journeys (confirmed)
"How Covid Shone a Light on the Issues Care Experienced Young People have Long Faced"

Sharing Barnardo’s understanding of the impact Covid had on care experienced young people then and now. Highlighting our approach to creating system change for children in and leaving care and some examples of our work in Care Journeys


Headline Supporter

  • Gillian Ashcroft, Owner, Exceptional Care and Think Tank Academy (confirmed)
  • Susan Rolfe, Director, Exceptional Care and Think Tank Academy (confirmed)
"Enabling and Developing Excellence within a Residential Workforce"

The presentation will examine what makes a difference to children and young people through an investment in workforce development and raising the bar within the context of Minimum Standards.


Question & Answer Session


Coffee in the Networking Area

  • Sarah Johal, National Strategic Adoption Leader Organisation, Leeds City Council (confirmed)
"National Adoption Strategy- Regional Adoption Agency Leaders Working Together"

The government launched their National Adoption Strategy across England in July 2021 with an aim to achieving excellence everywhere across the country. The government is supporting Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) leaders to deliver the vision with their three priorities: recruitment, the child’s journey and adoption support. The presentation will give an overview of the strategy, setting out the key challenges around adoption and will share the progress of the implementation of the plan.

  • Rebecca Cooke, Deputy Designated Nurse for Safeguarding People, NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Integrated Care Board (confirmed)
  • Claire Foster, Deputy Head of Safeguarding, North Bristol NHS Trust (confirmed)
"Transitional Safeguarding – Bridging the Gap for Care Experienced Young People "

Presentation synopsis (paragraph) Becca and Claire met during an MSc Safeguarding online course in Birmingham during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021. This gave Becca and Claire an opportunity to work together, innovate and co-create virtually without walls, across geographical boundaries. Both in new unique safeguarding roles with a focus on young people and transitional safeguarding, times were changing whereby NHS Integrated Care Systems were forming. Seeing the challenges young people encounter and gaps between children and adult healthcare services, Becca and Claire used a course assignment to develop an online poster resource and accompanying presentation ‘Transitional Safeguarding – Bridging the Gap for Care Experienced Young People’. The idea was to present the current challenges as seen through young people’s eyes, supported by information from a published Safeguarding Adult Review. These young people are aged between 16 -24 years and have experienced Local Authority Care. Safeguarding being the golden thread weaving through this presentation, working together and legislation is critically appraised. Championing the importance of bespoke safeguarding roles for young people Becca and Claire designed core recommendations for future practice, including sharing some new initiatives recently launched and those in development. The online poster has hyperlinks to additional resources such as video’s, legislation critique, research papers and young people’s surveys. It is hoped this will become a valuable resource for all health professionals, prompting a cultural change in creating new ways of multi-agency working to bridge the gap for young people, keeping them safe whilst they transition through developmental stages in life.


Case Study

  • Kev Clelland, Director of Programme Engagement, YGAM (confirmed)
"Gaming and Gambling Awareness and Harm Prevention: Supporting Looked After Children"

The presentation will look at why children might game/gamble and the additional vulnerabilities looked after children may face. It will also highlight the blurred lines between gaming and gambling, and the correlation between gambling and other risk-taking behaviours.

  • Dr Catherine Pestano, Social Work Consultant , Creative Croydon (confirmed)
  • Ashleigh Searle, Commissioning Officer - Children’s Services and Lived Experience Consultant , London Based (confirmed)
"The Role of the Independent Visitor"

A child or young person who has looked after status (whether UK or Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker) has a right to an Independent Visitor. This long-term volunteer maintains a positive relationship over time and offers a safe space to have fun and be appreciated. It also has a safeguarding function as part of a wider framework.



Question & Answer Session


Lunch in the Networking Area


Chair's Afternoon Address


Case Study

"Repairing Attachments"

How do we help ‘looked after children’ to release the heavy burden of resentment, without running the risk of invalidating their pain?

In order to meet the NSPCC’s Guidelines for ‘looked after children’, professionals should be utilising tools to ensure that attachment is at the heart of children’s emotional and social development.

The importance of having safe and secure attachments in our early lives can never be underestimated. Providing interventions, that make space and time for exploring and connecting from a secure base, can often make a positive alteration to the nervous system’s automatic response - associated with poor attachment. Repairing broken attachments is one of the core principles of Drawing and Talking, and is at the heart of everything we do. During this talk, we will discuss how Drawing and Talking can help you and your staff support the emotional needs of the children, young people, and adults in your setting.

  • Jonathan Whalley, Chief Executive Officer, St Christopher's Fellowship (confirmed)
"Staying Close – Models of equality of opportunity that work for care leavers"

St Christopher’s Staying Close model (set up as part of the Department for Education’s Innovation Programme in 2018) seeks to avoid the cliff edge faced by young people upon leaving the residential care system aged 18. The model creates safe, permissive environments for young people to maintain appropriate relationships with those caring for them after they leave care in particular focussing upon

  • Reducing emotional isolation for residential care leavers
  • Improved first tenancy sustainment
  • Improved employability skills
  • Young people having at least one trusted adult that they can contact
  • Young people having the right to return to their children’s home in times of celebration or need
  • Improved emotional resilience


We note and welcome from the recent Independent Review of Children’s Social care that Staying Close is recommended to become statutory, however there is insufficient agreement on which of the pilot models work best. Our experience has shown that locality factors and needs of individual young people mean that Staying Close principles require bespoke tailoring in application to be successful. Furthermore altogether too much emphasis is placed both centrally and by local government upon the accommodation post care without empowering the young people and the professionals around them with the skills and insights to enact successful sustainable outcomes. St Christopher’s believes that young people are the experts in their own lives and only through meaningful coproduction can reform of services for care leavers deliver equality of opportunity in line with staying put arrangements for fostered young people and non-care experienced peers. Our presentation will focus upon how by listening to young people we have improved equality of their outcomes leaving care.



  • Emily Bowman, Deputy CEO , The Mighty Creatives (confirmed)
  • Emily York, Youth Programme Manager, The Mighty Creatives (confirmed)
"The Art of Creative Mentoring – A Child-Centred Approach"

The Art of Creative Mentoring – A Child-Centred Approach will explore our Creative Mentoring model and the importance of child-centred and social pedagogical approaches when working with children and young people in vulnerable circumstances.

Through the presentation we will share how the model and ethos has been developed and how creativity can be used as an ‘early help’ tool towards positive wellbeing and emotional resilience for care experiences children and young people.


Question & Answer Session


Afternoon Break

"Manchester's Rising Stars Fund "

The We Love MCR Charity’s flagship fund, The Manchester’s Rising Stars Fund, recognises that the right support, at the right time, can make a huge difference when starting out on or progressing a career, self-employment or learning path. We fund ambitious, driven young Mancunians to pursue their ambitions through funding vital equipment, resources, training courses and costs to entering employment (including self-employment)


Closing Keynote Address

"My lived experience as a care leaver, who was addicted to drugs and then become homeless."

I was addicted to Legal Highs (A.K.A Spice) and was bouncing between homes. I was unhappy in the semi-independent placement I had been put in so decided to sleep on the sofas of my friends. Eventually the placement ended and my options to sofa surf soon ran out. I then went on to the streets and was homeless. This is my lived experienced story of how I recovered and now am a homeowner.


Question & Answer Session


Chair’s Closing Remarks and Conference Close

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Contact Details


  • Ann Coffey's Speech on Risks of Exploitation facing Looked After Children

    • Posted on 20 December 2019
    • by Ann Coffey




Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre

Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre

Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre is the ideal solution when searching for conference venues in Manchester. Top-of-the-range conference suites, 3 star value hotel accommodation, delicious dining and friendly service are the ideal components for a successful conference or event in the heart of the city centre.

The 18 conference rooms are decked out with all the mod cons including state-of-the-art AV technology, projectors and screens, free Wi-Fi and flip charts. Our clients cover the whole spectrum and include government organisations, trade unions, large corporate companies, non-profit organisations, health and education sectors and small to medium-sized businesses.

From the get-go we strive for excellence in everything we do and our dedicated team of conference professionals go all out to make sure your conference, event or exhibition runs like clockwork.

Featured Events

  • Looked After Children: Safeguarding Welfare-Fulfilling Aspirations

    • 03 December 2019
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • The Studio, Manchester
  • Looked After Children: Improving Life Chances

    • 05 December 2018
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre
  • Looked After Children 2022

    • 07 July 2022
    • 08:30 - 15:30
    • Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Downloads & Resources

  • Open Forum Events Sponsorship Brochure
    Open Forum Events offer a number of partnership, sponsorship and exhibition opportunities that can meet your marketing and business development needs.
  • Mighty Creatives
    Mighty Creatives
  • Looked After Children 12.22 Final Presentations
    Looked After Children 12.22 Final Presentations
  • Rebecca_Claire_Transitional Safeguarding
    Rebecca_Claire_Transitional Safeguarding