Lifelong Links by charity Family Rights Group is an exciting initiative that works with children and young people in care to help them reconnect and build lasting relationships with family members and other people who care about them. We went to Scotland to hear more about it.
Led by children and young people, Lifelong Links is an exciting initiative dedicated to supporting children and young people in care to develop lifelong, loving and supportive relationships. It does this by offering a bespoke service whereby an independent Lifelong Links coordinator works with a young person to find out who is important to them, who they would like to be back in touch with, and who they would like to know. After bringing the network together through a family group conference, they work with them to develop a plan, and alongside the local authority, they ensure these relationships continue to grow.
Family Rights Group is a charity that promotes policies and practices that help children live safely and thrive within their family, and strengthen the family and community networks of those unable to live at home. They used learning from the family group conference model and developed Lifelong Links in collaboration with key stakeholders including local authorities, young people in care and care leavers, parents and foster carers. Family Rights Group initially worked with seven local authorities in England (expanded to 12 in the third year) and five local authorities in Scotland to implement Lifelong Links. The service is now offered to children and young people in 23 local authorities.
Having supported Family Rights Group since 2012, we have been impressed by their approach - working collaboratively across different sectors to push for change, and ensuring the voices of those with lived experience of the issues are at the heart of what they do.