Please note that this event is now finished

Children in Care-Equality & Empowerment

  • Thursday, 08 June 2023
  • Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre
  • 08:30 - 16:30
Expert Speakers
Sponsors & Supporters
  • Overview

Open Forum Events are pleased to introduce to you the new Children in Care: Equality & Empowerment conference.

This event forms part of a series of highly insightful and informative meetings focusing on improving the lives of looked after children and care leavers. The conference will provide the opportunity for key stakeholders, and most importantly people with lived experience, to come together to discuss and debate the actions required to improve the lives and outcomes for young people.

There are many reasons why children and young people enter the care system, often in difficult and traumatic circumstances. Compared to their counterparts, children in care face a plethora of added issues and the challenge is to ensure that they are supported by a system committed to safeguarding the welfare and opportunities for children or young people in care. Being in the care system must not be allowed to dictate their futures and life chances must not be diminished because of the circumstances in which they find themselves.

The conference will brief delegates on the current situation within the care system and provide an update on the latest developments and thinking, guided by a programme full of expertise and experience.

The agenda has been designed to feature plenary presentations to disseminate information and share best practice, delivered by both professionals and experts by experience. Interaction and engagement will be a theme throughout the day, with time set aside for panel discussions, knowledge sharing and informal networking.

Book you place today at this CPD accredited conference and contribute to the narrative surrounding the issues facing those entering the care system and the support needed to ensure that looked after children and care leavers receive the best possible start in life and can look forward to bright futures.

  • Confirmed Speakers

  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair's Opening Address

  • Matt Blow, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Become (confirmed)

Keynote Address

  • Hannah McCowen, National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum Manager , Catch22 (confirmed)
  • Billie Jo Thompson, Senior Sessional Participation Worker for Young Person's Benchmarking Forum, Catch 22 (confirmed)
"An Uneven Playing Field: Challenges Facing Care Experienced Young People"

The current cost of living crisis is shining a light on the challenges and inequalities care experienced young people have faced for many years.

At the same time, we are also in a time of huge opportunity with the government’s care review; the introduction of Ofsted’s separate judgement for care leavers and the adoption of care experience as a Protected Characteristic by a number of local authorities.

This session will open the day by outlining current issues and trends - using insights from the Young People’s Benchmarking Forum - and looking at reasons for optimism.


  • Debbie Moreton, CEO, Step by Step (confirmed)
  • Kelly Headen, Head of Fostering and Supported Lodgings , Step by Step Partnership Limited (confirmed)
"Young People Moving On"

Exploring future move on for young people ready for independent living. Discussing the challenges with affordable and sustainable housing, the current bidding wars in the UK private rental market, the proposed Renters Reform Bill for May 2023 and the changes for UK Landlords. What does all this really mean for young people and their future housing?


"Distress Signals: Call for legal Guardians"

The Youth-led Commission on Separated Children is calling on the government to provide legal guardians to all unaccompanied and separated children arriving in England and Wales. Guardian schemes exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland. They are using their lived experiences of the both the social care and immigration systems to call for much needed change. A legal guardian will be a consistent adult in their lives from start to finish and will ensure their rights are championed, they understand the processes and will also work with all the professionals around the child.


Headline Supporter

  • Gillian Ashcroft, Owner, Exceptional Care and Think Tank Academy (confirmed)
  • Susan Rolfe, Director, Exceptional Care and Think Tank Academy (confirmed)

Question & Answer Session


Coffee in the Networking Area


Case Study

"Promoting a Positive Staff Culture to Improve Outcomes for Children and Young People in Care."

This session will examine how can staff culture influences the lives of children in care, positively or otherwise, and will provide an opportunity for reflection, sharing and development.

  • How can staff aim to use positive language and work in a way that is trauma informed?
  • How can staff use the experiences of young people to put in place effective and person centred care?
  • How do young people and carers learn and manage to keep their cool?
  • What does effective care look like/sound like/feel like for staff/carers and children/young people?

These are just some of the questions that will feature that seek to identify ways to facilitate a fostering of mutual respect, based on effective listening, collaboration and empowerment.

With these factors in mind, staff and carers are better placed to promote positive outcomes for children and young people in care.

  • Caroline Rowsell, Operational Lead, Emergency Duty Service, Mental Health and Out of Hours, People Directorate, Bracknell Forest Council (confirmed)
"Anything is Possible "

Caroline is a person with lived experience and as a child spent 14 years being looked after by the system. She will use this presentation to inspire Social Workers and Young People to believe that anything is possible, no matter what the past and that all can have a positive fulfilling future.


  • Ashleigh Searle, Commissioning Officer - Children’s Services and Lived Experience Consultant , London Based (confirmed)
"Placement Instability Through the Lens of Lived Experience"

From 2018 to 2021 there were 220,210 changes to care placements, each one a new loss and a new home for a young person to adjust to. This presentation will examine the effects of placement instability on children in care through out their journeys and in later life and will build on service reviews centred on the experience of young people, effective ways to improve matching, increase stability and stabilise young people. This will include personal reflections on matching, commissioning and service improvement through the lens of lived and learned experience.


Question & Answer Session


Lunch in the Networking Area


Chair's Afternoon Address

  • Shilla Shomai, PhD Student, University of Worcester (confirmed)
"Parenting as a Care Leaver: A Comparative Study of the Experiences of Care Leaver Parenting in England vs Scotland."

Shilla’s research project examines care leaver parents’ experiences of parenting. She seeks to determine i) the likelihood of children of care experienced parents ending up in the system ii) the barriers to care leaver parenthood as well as the support needed to aid care leavers in this role. Shilla will share existing literature concerning the care-experienced community as well as gaps for future research.

  • Eve Smyth, Research Associate, What Works for Children’s Social Care (confirmed)
"Understanding Residential Care for Children in Care in England"

This presentation will cover the results of a descriptive analysis of national data about residential care. The analysis aimed to improve the current understanding of who the children living in residential care placements are, what their journeys before and after entering residential care are like, and describe their outcomes later on.


Question & Answer Session


Afternoon Break

  • Alan Wood, Director of Transformation , Foster Talk (confirmed)
"Retention of Foster Carers"

An overview of inter-connecting themes and issues that impact upon the retention of Foster Carers, including the application of learning from an international partner agency; the impact of allegations against Foster Carers; the connection between recruitment and retention and the power of relationship-based practice


Closing Keynote Address

  • Rachel Telfer, National Project Coordinator- Triangles , Barnardos- Care Journeys (confirmed)
  • Tiffany Horabin, Project Worker- Triangles, Barnardos- Care Journeys (confirmed)
"Care, Connection, Comfort and Curiosity- Inclusive co-design with care experienced young people"

Sharing of our ‘Triangles model’ of co-design with care experienced young people and our learning along the way. Our Triangles programme aims to empower care-experienced young people and their frontline workers to identify ideas where we can create change in the system alongside encouraging and offering opportunities for personal development, outdoor education and creating relationships. We will highlight our approach to creating system change for young people leaving care, ideas we have funded and our learning from the past 3 years of Barnardo’s Care Journeys innovative programme- Triangles.



Question & Answer Session


Chair’s Closing Remarks


Conference Close

  • Register for event

You can no longer register for this event
  • Contact Details
  • News
  • Sponsors
  • Supporters
  • Venue
  • Featured Events
  • Downloads
  • Who will attend

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 2022

    • 07 July 2022
    • 08:30 - 15:30
    • Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
  • Children in Care-Equality & Empowerment

    • 08 June 2023
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre
  • Looked After Children: Improving Life Chances

    • 05 December 2018
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre
  • Looked After Children: Safeguarding Welfare-Fulfilling Aspirations

    • 03 December 2019
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • The Studio, Manchester
  • Looked After Children-Promoting Equality of Opportunity

    • 08 December 2022
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre

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.
  • Final Speaker
    Final Speaker

who will attend

  • 14-19 Partnership Teams
  • Academics and Researchers
  • Director/Heads Adoption and Fostering Agencies
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Co-ordinators
  • Asylum and Immigration Officers
  • Care Leavers Champions
  • Central Government Departments and Agencies
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Practitioners
  • Child and Educational Psychologists
  • Child Protection and Safeguarding Teams
  • Child Protection Officers
  • Children’s Health Service Professionals
  • Children’s Services Officers
  • Heads of Children’s Trusts and Children’s Centres
  • Commissioning Managers
  • Community and Voluntary Organisations
  • Community Development Managers
  • Director/Heads Connexions and Jobcentre Plus
  • Director/Heads Corporate Parenting Boards
  • Designated Nurses and Health Advisors for Children in Care
  • Director/Heads Local Education Authorities
  • Director/Heads Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards
  • Director/Heads Local, Regional and National Health Services
  • Director/Heads Looked After/Children in Care Teams
  • Director/Heads NEET Strategy Teams
  • Director/Heads Permanency Teams
  • Director/Heads Regional Adoption Agencies
  • Director/Heads Welfare Rights Organisations
  • Directors/Heads of Children and Young People’s Services
  • Domestic Violence Co-ordinators
  • Director/Heads Drug and Alcohol Action Teams
  • Early Years and Childcare Practitioners
  • Education and Welfare Officers
  • Education Providers
  • Director/Heads Employment and Training Services
  • Families Services Officers
  • Family Intervention Project Workers
  • Family Pathfinder Workers
  • Family Placement Teams
  • Family Support and Outreach Team Leads
  • Heads of Children’s Strategy
  • Members of Health and Wellbeing Boards
  • Director/Heads Homelessness Teams
  • Director/Heads Housing Service Providers
  • Local Authority Officers and Councillors
  • Looked-After Children Team Managers
  • Members of Police and Fire Service
  • Mental Health Practitioners
  • Post Adoption Support Services Leads
  • Psychotherapists
  • Residential Children’s Home Managers
  • School Nurses and Health Visitors
  • Schools, Colleges and Further Education Providers
  • Social Workers and Social Services Officers
  • Director/Heads Supported Housing Teams
  • Teachers and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators
  • Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinators
  • Third Sector Representatives
  • Youth Inclusion Teams
  • Youth Workers and Youth Offending Teams