Article 39 comes to visit the Young People of Phoenix Learning and Care Group

On 30th of August, Carolyn and Pat from Article 39 travelled down to sunny Devon to our Offices in Barnstaple to speak to our Young People from our Children’s Homes.

7 of our Young People chose to take part, and we are very proud of them all!

But what is Article 39 and why did they want to talk to our Young People?

“Article 39 fights for the rights of children living in state and privately-run institutions, a population of around 80,000 in England. They take their name from the part of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which entitles children and young people who have been abused or neglected to recover in environments where their health, self-respect and dignity are nurtured. We formed in 2015 and achieved registration with the Charity Commission in March 2016 (registration number 1166092)”.

They are seeking eight institutional sites in England – a mix of educational, health, care and custodial settings – where they can consult children and young people. Once necessary permissions have been obtained, and safeguarding arrangements secured, they  would consult five children and young people in each setting during August or September 2017.

Article 39’s aim is to set up a website for Young People, in these types of settings, to be able to consult at their own will about their “Rights”; using the views of Young People to build and pull it all together.

Carolyn and Pat spend time with our Young People, who represented  a mixture of ages and had quite a mix of “Care” experience, getting to know them and their views.

All the Young People that contributed received a £10 gift card, and will also be receiving a personalised letter of thanks straight to their doors, as well as our own Children’s Council receiving a £50 gift card as a thank you! – Everyone was very pleased!

We can’t wait to share the website with all of our Young People when it goes live in 2018.

Thank you so much for coming down and being able to help our Young People feel heard Article 39!

And a huge Thank You to the Manager of Bridge View, Lucy Squire for organising the session and bringing together our Young People to take part in this huge opportunity.

And again a huge Thank You to our Young People for attending the sessions!

Sarah Jury

Social Media Coordinator

The 20th of June 2017 saw our 3rd annual strategy day, our second at the superbly appointed Community Centre in Cullompton.

This events is always a great opportunity to meet with our fellow colleagues from all across our diverse range of services including Childrens Homes, schools and colleges, supported living and residential care. A chance to update and review the previous year’s activity and showcase Phoenix’s successes!

Again this year we got to bring our HEART values to life by visiting Heartfelt Inspirations workshops which showcased latest best practice across our services, attended Open Heart Surgery, having the chance to have group discussions on diverse topics such as Our Brand, What’s next? and Telling the Story.

“The recent strategy day was fantastic. I was so pleased to be able to attend. I really enjoy being able to speak to people from the other branches of the company and see the great progress they are making. The workshops were all very interesting and brought some really useful skills and ideas which I know I will be able to use in my own role. I especially enjoyed the guest speaker, Laurence Harvey, who spoke about Unconscious Bias. He presented his session in a way that was very enjoyable and thought provoking!.- Michelle Dower-Team Leader – Eldra Court and Supported Living Services


This years Heart Felt Inspirations saw Kelly Rowlands, Principal of Oakwood College discussing Autism and Sensory Processing. She communicated instructions on how to draw a picture whist simultaneously playing an audio track, which helped us understand how an individual with Autism may interpret their surrounding – sensory overload was had by all!

Kate Patten, our recently appointed GroupSpeech and Language Therapist (SaLT) based at Oakwood College and college learner Freya showcased the Communication Board and how they use them within the college environment.


Music teacher Chris Trundle’s ever popular workshop, saw the audience exposed to different styles and genres of music and the group were asked how the music made them feel, this was coupled to videos illustrating how Chris had worked with learners with very complex needs and how they had responded to the music.

Myself and Anna Garrard along with Young Person Faye, talked about the Faye-mazing bags. Now, I won’t go into to much detail here about the bags, as we have another blog coming out on this very soon (watch this space!).  Faye did so well standing up in front of the groups and explaining what our Faye-mazing bags are and what they mean for new Young People moving into our Children’s Homes.

“I thought that the strategy day (apart from being hot) was inspirational.
The film from the assisted living at Oakwood Court was fabulous. You could see how much the learners loved their education.
Faye’s bags were fantastic. I can imagine the young people finding something just for them – a real welcome to their new homes.”

Chrissie Thomas- Acorn School Teacher

After a lovely lunch (as always), enjoyed in the glorious summer sunshine of the grounds, we were introduced to our guest speaker Laurence Harvey, talking to us about the Unconscious Bias  with full audience participation! Laurence had everybody’s attention as he had all of us engaged (and amused!) whilst getting everyone thinking about their own ‘first impressions’ and how that can effect our thoughts and actions in the work environment.


The afternoon saw us split up into our Open Heart Surgery sessions lead by session Champions. Steve Nicholson lead Telling the Story, how we showcase our best  practice to Commissionaires and regulators.  Ian Taylor took the session on What’s Next? for our employees in terms of career development  and François Delbaere discussed Our Brand and how we might take this forward in the near future.

Everyone then re-grouped and our findings from each surgery were discussed across the group.

Despite it being one of the hottest days of the year, it was an extremely productive and successful day, and it was great to see both some new and familiar faces from across the services.

“I thought the day was very interesting and insightful. A great introduction to the company as a new staff member with regards becoming familiar with facts about the company and how it is run in detail

 I was able to gain knowledge and understanding in the topics covered in the workshops there.

 I especially liked the Faye-mazing bags initiative and the workshop on unconscious bias 

 The unconscious bias workshop really opened my eyes to my own thinking etc that I may or may not have been aware of and allowed me to be aware of this and use this in my everyday working practice.” Rebecca Lessiter- Residential Care Worker at Osbourne Childrens Home

 We are now planning the Annual Employee awards for later in the Autumn!

Sarah Jury

Social Media Co-ordinator


Friday 16th October 2015 saw Phoenix hosts its inaugural Annual Awards ceremony celebrating the success and achievement of our Colleagues across the Phoenix Learning and Care organisation.

Hosted at the Cullompton Community Centre many employees were present from across the organisation, alongside our award sponsors including Pendragon, Smith and Williamson, Town & Country Insurance, Stephens and Scown and the Co-op bank.

Fellow employees nominated candidates for the five awards and these were presented including Colleague of the Year (Maria Partridge), Manager of the Year (Rose Gapper), YP Choice of the Year (Jimi Tosh), Rising Star (Hayley Trebell) and Team of the Year (Nick, Andy Willoughby and Dave Smith). Winners were presented with a glass trophy, certificate and monetary award and nominees received a certificate.

Winners of the 2015 photographic competition were announced the best photograph on the theme of “Joy” were:

Leigh HutterIMG_0129_1

Rob EdwardsDSC_0240

Phoenix AcademyFullSizeRender

 The first Founders Award, a special award for outstanding courage, personal achievement or inspirational care went to Linda Waller.

Light entertainment was delivered by our resident “one afternoon only” band Bewildered.

Yesterday, Greece voted no to a series of requirements from the European central bank, to allow them to be ‘bailed out’ of their financial difficulties. This is a massive world event but how do financial difficulties effect those we work with.

Young people with a learning disability are vulnerable financially as they tend to lack the interpersonal skills necessary to identify when someone is not being honest with them. We work with them to ensure that they begin to learn through underpinning and education that money management is a key part of being an adult.

Young people in care living away from family also have to learn within a protective environment how to manage their money. As an organisation we have always held the philosophy of ‘to every child a childhood’ and have therefore tried to ensure that our young people enjoy activities and holidays that will leave lasting memories. But what happens when they leave our care, this is where the real difficulty begins, restricted budget and little support to fall back on.

One theme that continues to haunt me is the concept of ‘mate hate’, for those of you who have not come across this before it is the concept of ‘friends’ who attach themselves to our young people, students, young adults, usually when they are living independently, pretending to be their friend.

When our young people move into their own accommodation, even age appropriate friends will not usually have ‘their own place’. Our kids become a magnet for people to doss around and cause a nuisance because there is no repercussions for them. Our kids tend to struggle to manage these ‘friends’ and often end up losing their accommodation as a result.

More worryingly and getting back to the financial costs, these ‘friends’ will often turn up on the day that the young person gets their weekly allowance, ‘helping’ them to spend it and then leaving them for the rest of the week with no money.

‘Mate Hate’ is real and is something we need to educate our young people about as early as we can, so that they can build some resilience and spot the signs early.

It’s what any good parent, or friend would do.

How can we do it better?

Keith Burley

Founder & CEO

Safety Net - Friend or Fake


3rd place in the  Devon Cycle Challenge well done everyone who helped put Phoenix on the map!

With the start of Wimbledon this week it is great to see the kids from PCC taking part in a tennis coaching session organised by Debbie and Christine from Osbourne who went and sourced a community tennis coaching course for themselves and organised the event at a local tennis club.

Sport is an important part of every service in Phoenix, we are so proud of Lollie for being named the Devon young sports person of the year last year and Oakwood continues to produce Special Olympians, and of course let’s not forget the table cricket!

Getting our children, young people and young adults active as much as possible really improves their lives on so many levels, so if you have any ideas push them through.

I was reading an article this week on supporting dignity in care and it had three key messages:

Connect with me!

  1. Show me respect and courtesy
  2. Act with kindness and thought
  3. Offer to help without having to be asked

See who I am!

  1. Treat me as an individual with my own history, preferences, fears and beliefs.
  2. Be aware of my needs
  3. View me as an intelligent person with a massive part to play in my care

Involve me!

  1. Help me make decisions
  2. Be honest and respectful of my choices
  3. Help me at my level

Although this is an aged persons project I think the core concepts are important in everything we do at Phoenix.

Keith Burley

Founder & CEO


This is the first blog from Keith Burley (Founder and CEO) for some time, but it is the first of a regular short blog that I hope to write every Monday.

 It will contain my musings on many things related to the children, young people and young adults we care for in Phoenix.

I wanted to use this first blog to remind everyone of the People and Organisational Development Strategy 2015/2016 document which we launched recently. This is an important document as it is written as a result of what you as Colleagues said you wanted to see Phoenix do better.

It contains a number of action points that your senior Colleagues take very seriously, and will work hard to achieve during this next year.

Have a read of it and let me know what you think!

The summer edition of ‘Who Cares?’ the magazine for children and young people in care, has comments from several young people living in Phoenix children’s homes. In the section called ‘you speak out’ they talk about who they turn to for support Who Cares Phoenix Article. This came about whilst they visited the offices of The Who Care Trust during a visit to London, organised during the Take Over Day, which saw the young people ‘take over’ head office for the day!

Finally just a quick reminder to get your nominations in for the Phoenix Annual Colleagues awards, the closing date is 24th July 2015.

Thank you


Who Cares? magazin Cover


Phoenix 2015 Photography Competition starts today, this year’s theme is ‘Joy’.

“Dictionary definition: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness; Synonyms: delight, jubilation, triumph, exultation, happiness, glee, bliss”

This Competition is open to Phoenix employees, cared for clients, students and young people. Each photograph must reflect or capture the theme of the year and must somehow be linked to life at Phoenix #PhoenixPhotographyComp

The Rules
  • All entries must be taken by someone either being cared for or working for Phoenix Learning & Care Group.
  • All photographs be in high resolution (taken with the highest possible dpi your camera allows) to allow for publication and high quality printing.
  • All entries must be copyright free and if they contain images of people, the people must have a signed consent form which allows their image to be displayed in public.
  • A maximum of three images may be entered by each competitor.
  • There will be three prizes:  Picture of the year- £50 | Best photograph taken by a young person, student or client- £25 | Best photograph taken by a Colleague- £25
  • The judges will be people from our Local Authority partners, and therefore will be independent of Phoenix.
  • The shortlisted six photographs (3 each from young people and Colleagues) will be professionally printed, and displayed at the Phoenix Colleague Awards, where the final winners will be announced.
  • The winning photos will automatically be entered into a national competition.
 How to enter

Email your entry along with your name and the service you live, learn or work at to:

Alternatively, please pass on your photo files or Twitter upload to #PhoenixPhotographyComp   Closing date is September 1st 2015 at 1pm.  Good Luck!

Student taking photo of another student

With the Phoenix Learning and Care Young Person’s Council now in full swing the members are taking their requests right to the top! With a meeting due this week one of the newest members of the council let Keith Burley (Chief Executive of the group) know exactly what would be needed to make the meeting a real success…. Well done Pops!

Pretty please Keith!!?

 Pretty please Keith,

Can we have pizza?

I think it would be good,

For when we meets-ya.

 Extra-large for us all to share,

Pretty please Keith,

We know you care.

 That greasy yummy, pizza smell,

This tasty treat will go down well.

Everybody loves,

that pizza taste,

with castle there,

there will be no waste.

 My favourite,

is stuffed crust.

pretty please Keith,

it’s a must.





Phoenix Learning and Care employees are taking part in the Love to Ride national cycling challenge. The aim of the challenge is to encourage as many people to ride a bike for at least 10 minutes over the 3 weeks from June 8th-28th. The National Cycle Challenge is a free, fun competition for workplaces to see which can get the highest number of employees to ride a bike, there are prices to be won with the added benefit of participating in a fun and healthy activity; more detail can be found on their website: Phoenix are currently 5th place in the 200-499 employee category and are hoping to make the top 3 with a few more willing candidates signing up and cycling 

Love to Ride Devon Cycle Challenge


Thursday 16th April 2015 saw staff from across the whole business attending the Phoenix Learning & Care Group Strategy Day at Exeter Football Club.

Our staff are the life blood of the organisation and we wanted to make sure that everyone understood the journey that we have been on for the last couple of years and to work together to drive Phoenix into the future.

The theme for the whole day was participation, engagement and action!

The day was crammed full of presentations, workshops, networking and singing! Yes you did read that right – a group of young people from Oakwood Court College in Dawlish were kind enough to come along and get everyone on their feet joining in with an amazing rendition of ‘Happy’ – Eat your heart out Pharrell Williams…..

All this fun was interspersed with some really excellent sessions including ‘Ideas and Innovations’, ‘Mission and Values’ and the launch of Phoenix’s own Staff Awards Programme.

The day was a real success seeing staff uniting from across the group to share ideas, best practice and a real sense of community.

The next date in the diary is the Staff Awards Day in September.

Strat Day 1 Strat Day 2 Strat day 4