A pioneering social care provider has become the first in Wales to receive a major award for its work with children and young people.
Prospects for Young People, based in Wrexham, broke new ground in 1994 when they were established to support children and young people from difficult backgrounds adjust to society.
Twenty years on they operate 11 homes in the Wrexham area, run a special school, provide a network of foster parents, employ 150 staff and have worked with hundreds of youngsters from across the UK.
Now they have just achieved Investors in People Gold Standard and have been congratulated by the Mayor of Wrexham, Councillor David Bithell, for the way they care for children and young people in small, family-sized homes and for the way they train, develop and involve their staff.
Prospects established by Steve Elliott and Chris Edwards, is the first young people’s residential care and education organisation in Wales to reach the Gold Standard.
Last year Prospects for Young People was celebrating after its project to introduce a Person Planning Framework to more effectively engage young people in planning services to ensure they were meeting their needs was a winner in the Social Care Accolades which are awarded by the Care Council for Wales.
Prospects won the Excellent Outcomes in the Care of Younger People, Children and Early Years Accolade.
Judges praised staff for developing a person-centred approach which had enabled children and young people to become more involved in the planning of services to ensure it is meeting their needs now and in the future.
Steve Elliott is a Council Member of Care Forum Wales, the body that represents 500 independent providers in the social care sector.
He is the Chair of the organisation’s Looked After Children Network, previously the Residential Child Care Special Interest Group which was created to protect and promote the interests of children and young people in care in Wales – and the people who look after them.
Councillor Bithell said: “I am delighted to be here to congratulate Prospects Care on achieving the Gold Award. The Investors in People standard is an extremely high level of people management used by employers around the world to improve their working culture and increase employee engagement.
Prospects have shown they’re an organisation worthy of the gold standard.
It’s fantastic that a business in Wrexham with over 150 staff is bringing employment to the area and supporting young people in the community and helping them back into mainstream society.”
Steve said: “We established Prospects in 1994 with the intention of doing things differently in terms of having small groups of young people with a high staff ratio to meet their individual needs because in larger groups we felt some were missing out.
We were first recognised as Investors in People in 1995 which was a significant achievement because we were a new organisation and we achieved Bronze status three years ago.
To achieve IIP status you have to satisfy 39 indicators and for Gold the figure is 165 – we satisfied 189 and we’re delighted with that because we believe it’s important to invest in developing your staff to deliver the best outcomes for the young people we work with.”
Chris Edwards added: “We’re really proud we’ve achieved this, especially in our 20th year because we’re trying to provide the best service that we can for the children and young people in our care and for their families.
Residential care is often almost a last resort for the young people who have some complex issues and our job is to set them on the right track so they can make a valuable contribution to society and integrate into it. It means everything when you work with these young people and they come back saying that without what we’ve done they wouldn’t be where they are today – that’s very rewarding.
Back in 1994 we just felt we could do the job better than it was being done and that is why we set up the organisation.”
Also there to offer her congratulations was Wrexham Councillor Krista Childs, from Coedpoeth, a trained social worker herself, who said: “I know them very well and I’m very chuffed for them. It’s a huge honour and a great accolade for Prospects.
“They’re great role models. Prospects are always striving for the best and going above and beyond.
They have kept in touch with children who have come through their care and well after they have left they continue to give them excellent moral support.”
Mario Kreft, MBE, Chairman of Care Forum Wales said: “This is a wonderful achievement by an organisation that is at the forefront of the care of young people not just in Wales but across the UK.
Steve and Chris and their staff work very hard to deal with children from the most challenging backgrounds imaginable and the way they go about providing care, in small, family-sized units has been a ground-breaking approach.”