Young people in care and care leavers - get your voice heard

User Voice and Participation

Your voice is important and changing the system around you is something you can be a part of.

User Voice and Participation (UVP) are a team of service users who support young people to get involved with improving the services they use. The team and groups work closely together to listen and support each other and provide an outlet to make a change.

Groups take part in consultations, service re-designs and deliver training for frontline workers and senior leadership. Young people can also train to undertake interviews and get paid an hourly rate for this ad hoc work.

Follow the UVP team on Instagram and Twitter (@ourvoicesurrey) and send them a direct message for more information.

Some of the groups run by the UVP team are:

Care Leavers' Forum

Launched in June 2020, the Care Leavers' Forum is a new group for young people aged 18+ and is an open space for them to talk about any issues they may be facing, access support services, influence service delivery and meet other young people who may be in similar situations to them.

Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, we currently are unable to see young people face to face for the Care Leavers' Forum, the group is however taking place once a month virtually on Zoom. For more information and to get involved, please email care.council@surreycc.gov.uk.

Here is what young people have said about attending the group:

  • "The session was really good. I thought I would be nervous, but my confidence has grown and will continue to grow the more I attend".
  • "Everyone was really friendly and was open with their experiences which helped me to open up".
  • "The group has pushed me to have conversations with people in the same position - it's refreshing".

Care Council

The Surrey Youth Cabinet is group of young people aged 11 to 19 (or up to 25 with additional needs) representing youth participation groups and the 11 boroughs in Surrey, championing the views of young people at a Council and Parliamentary level. For more information about the group, see the Care Council webpage.

Surrey Youth Cabinet

A group of young people aged 11-19 (or up to 25 with additional needs) representing youth participation groups and the 11 boroughs in Surrey. Heard at Council and Parliamentary level about issues that affect young people. Visit the Surrey Youth Cabinet webpage for more information.

CYA (CAMHS Youth Advisers)

CYA are a group of young people who have all accessed or still are accessing emotional wellbeing and/or mental health services in Surrey. They help to shape, change and improve these services for other young people. Visit the CYA webpage for more information.

SYAS (SEND Youth Advisers Surrey)

SYAS are a group of young people who have a special educational need and/or disability. They meet to have a say in services that affect them and make changes for the better. Visit the SYAS webpage for more information.


Advocacy and Complaints Service

What's our aim?

We want children and young people to be more able and confident to 'self advocate' ie speak up for themselves to make sure:

  • they fully understand the decisions being made by professionals and also how these decisions will impact on their life,
  • that these professionals fully understand what the young person wishes for and how they feel about the decisions affecting their life.

Young people will have more opportunities to express their wishes and feelings and to have a direct say about the issues that affect their lives, whether they are making a complaint, trying to resolve a problem or meeting with professionals.

What's our belief?

We believe that all staff working with children and young people have an advocacy role to play and that it is often better to avoid unnecessarily introducing more adults into children's lives.

Our message to workers is that: Advocacy starts with you unless you feel your 'hands are tied' or the young person wishes to make a complaint and asks for independent advocacy support to do so.

Advocacy services in Surrey are provided by Coram Voice. If you would like more information about the support they can provide, or to access an advocate, please visit the Coram Voice website.

If you wish to speak to someone further regarding advocacy support or to make a complaint, please speak to your personal adviser in the first instance, or contact the Surrey Customer Relations team using their email: be.heard@surreycc.gov.uk