We talked to Catie, who works with our children and young people to give them a voice

At Brighter Futures for Children, it’s really important that we give our children and young people a voice and make sure they are being listened to by those around them.

Catie is our Participation Officer and it’s her job to make sure that this happens. We met with her to find out more about what she does to support our young people in Reading.

‘One of the funny things we love to do as a group is when we have a visitor come along to talk to us about various things, like life story work, the contact centre, education, we always introduce ourselves and say how old we are. When it’s my turn the young people have great delight in guessing how old I am! It normally starts from about 85 years old, up to anything, but I think the oldest they have had me is 108 years!

But seriously, I support the Children in Care Council (CiCC), which is a group of young people that meet monthly to discuss the things that matter to them and others in care. I help empower them to take responsibility to make sure we can do things differently to bring about change and improvement to services. We have three groups; Care2Listen, Care2HaveFun and Skills4ABrighterFuture.


We do projects like our film for children coming into care and to thank their foster carers. We also came up with an idea to plant a tree outside Reading Town Hall to mark that some children and young people aren’t able to stay in Reading because there aren’t enough foster carers locally so we wanted to help them feel ‘rooted’ here. The young people themselves also run a training programme for our staff during school holidays, to make sure they get it right when listening and acting for children in care. We’ve also just launched a new podcast named after the group!


This group does what it says on the tin, we meet monthly to do fun stuff! They have learnt how to somersault at trampolining, they passed their AQA canoeing test, we have managed to complete an escape room, we got fit at a boxing session, we have had fun at the cinema watching movies and eating popcorn, we put together a rock band, we learnt how to cycle safely, we have cooked meals for the mayor and did an afternoon tea too. Phew!

Canoeing, especially, was a time when many of them pushed themselves right out of their comfort zones, some of them couldn’t even swim and were anxious to start with but by the end of the session they were paddling and even jumping into the river. I was so proud of them.


This is a newly developed programme for our care leavers to help them into independence. We met every week, we learnt to cook a meal together and then would have a session on a topic that would help them like how to manage their finances.

It’s really lovely to see the young people coming together as a group

They are a really friendly bunch and enjoy each other’s company. One of the great things is they can be who they are as some young people in care do not let anyone know at school they are in care as they worry about the reaction of others and possibly being bullied. The young people feel empowered here as they make a difference, not only to the care they receive, but to the whole care system. I have seen many of them grow in confidence and have a great sense of self-belief when they feel listened to and change happens.

I am reliant a lot on their foster carers to share all the activities that are coming up with the children and young people. It’s really great to have the support of their carers as this is something the young people get a lot out of. I am always open to ideas and suggestions on things to try so I’m keen to work with them as much as possible.

We make some great memories together. Last year, on our residential trip, the young people took part in a high swing (the sort of thing that makes me feel very sick!), however they all did it and even those who were really nervous managed it. Then they shouted at me to have a go. Of course, I was not that keen but seeing how they had put themselves out there, I felt it was only fair. Well… the screaming could be heard across the whole county, I was so relieved when the swing was finally back on the ground and all the young people were laughing.

Laughs is something we have a lot of!

… This is fostering.


Our goal is to find more foster carers for our children and young people in Reading. How can you help? 

  • If you’d like to find out more about fostering and become a foster carer yourself, get in touch with us. Our friendly fostering team are at the other end of the line on 0118 469 3020. You can also enquire and you’ll get a call back.
  • If you’re not able to foster yourself but would like to help, you can help us spread the word.
    • Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and share our posts
    • Tell someone if you think they’d be a great foster carer! This can be a family member, friend or colleague.
    • Invite someone to one of our information events.


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