20th Anniversary Article – A personal reflection

                                                       EPIC Anniversary Article Series               A personal reflection on the early days of EPIC By Catherine Carthy – founder of EPIC 24th January 2019   On the 15th January 2000, I began work in the role of National Co-ordinator of the Irish Association of Young People in Care (IAYPIC). It sounds grander than it was, as in reality the organisation was a desk on the top floor of Barnardo’s Head Office in Dublin, a mobile phone and a 2-page project proposal. In the first weeks, I began to draw up plans of how we could action their vision for the organisation. We initially met as a small group of five, but quickly identified a number of key people to be part of a wider management committee. The organisation was still little more than an elaborate proposal with a co-ordinator. Within a number of months, IAYPIC was being recognised as an organisation that represented the views of young people in care and we began to be inundated by requests to participate on boards and fora where the voice of young people in care had been missing heretofore. The National Children’s Strategy was being drafted in those first months of 2000, and John Collins from the Department of Health asked IAYPIC to convene a group of young people with care experience who would give their views on what they thought should be included in a ten-year children’s strategy....

Participation

Participation What is Participation? Participation means the active involvement of children and young people in decision-making processes that affect their lives. EPIC believes that children and young people in care and those with care experience are experts in their own experience and as such, are committed to empowering children and young people to voice their opinions to influence change at  a local, national and international level. What does Participation in EPIC look like for a Child or Young Person with Care Experience? Safe space Participate in an inclusive and respectful group environment. Explore their experiences of the positives and challenges of being in care. Advise EPIC and other services how best to improve the lives of children in care. Know their rights. Opportunity to gain confidence and develop new skills. Understand how their voice can influence meaningful change. To have fun and make new friends. Get vocal, get social, and get together in celebration of our care-experienced community!!!     What Model Guides EPIC’s Participation? In EPIC our work is guided by Professor Laura Lundy’s Model of Participation. This Model provides a way of conceptualising Article 12 of the UNCRC, which states that children have the right to express their views; and for their views given due weight. It is important to view this model as cyclical, each element naturally compliments the other, which in turn promotes the positive and meaningful participation of children and young people. The four elements of the Lundy Model Include: Space: Provide a safe and inclusive space for children to express their views. Voice: Provide appropriate information and facilitate the expression of children’s views....
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