Article 39

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

Strategy Day 2017!

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

Safer Internet Day

Students at Oakwood Court College in Dawlish participated in a safer internet day on Tuesday 10th of February. The purpose of this event was to teach the students how to use social networking safely and how to enjoy the benefits whilst keeping safe. They were taught how to be respectful online, how to recognise the signs of online bullying, how to report bullying and who to report to.

The students were able to demonstrate what they had learnt through making posters and working through an interactive test. Safer Internet Poster





Our Young People Show us how it’s done!

The team at Head Office are quaking in their boots because any minute now a whole bunch of young people are going to step up, take the ropes and show them how it’s done!

At Phoenix Learning and Care we believe in complete transparency and in hearing the voice of the young people in our care in as many innovative ways as possible.

On Wednesday 18th February Phoenix Learning and Care are opening up Head Office to a group of young people from throughout the company. What better way to truly understand the challenges of running a company than inviting the major stake holders to experience it first hand?

The idea was first brought to the table during a recent meeting of our Children’s Council. The young people were really keen to understand exactly what function the Head Office plays, the wider issue of running a care organisation and the roles everyone plays in making it happen.

Our young people will have the opportunity to shadow all members of the team including Keith Burley our CEO, Siobain who heads up quality, Theresa in HR, Francois in Finance and Donna on reception.

Rest assured the day won’t all be asking questions and drinking coffee! The young people will be undertaking real business activities including negotiations, interviews and the chance to liaise with staff on future plans and projects.

As if they aren’t going to be busy enough the group will be given a cash budget which they will work together to allocate as they see fit, presenting the reasons behind their choices to the Executive Team at the end of the day.

At Phoenix we see our take over day as a massive opportunity not just for our young people but for all of us to learn from each other and be part of a stronger more connected business going forward.

   White Board with brain stormed ideas on what to do for Take Over Day

Nathan On Ice!

Move over celebrities it’s time for Nathan to show off his ice skating skills! Young people throughout Phoenix Learning and Care have had a fantastic time this Christmas but none more so than Nathan.

Whilst this photos may look like Nathan and his support team flew off to some far flung ski resort it was actually a trip to Bristol and the Winter Wonderland set up at Cribbs Causeway.

At the start of the trip Nathan was definitely more Bambi on ice but by the end was wizzing around like a pro. Next stop Dancing on Ice!!

Nathan on Ice

Christmas isn’t just about the presents…’s all about the jumpers!

This Christmas there was definitely something in the water at Phoenix Learning and care. Just when we thought everyone had a reputation for such great taste and fashion sense out came the Christmas jumpers!

On this occasion we can definitely forgive the staff and young people because it was all done for such a good cause. Christmas jumpers were dug out, dusted off and worn with pride to raise money for Save the Children. Well done everyone!


Nathan at Christmas          Christmas Fever





Young People have their Voices heard at the Children, Young People and Families Alliance

At a recent event organised by Devon County Council representing the Children, Young People and Families Alliance, young people from Phoenix Learning and Care had the opportunity to ask questions and have their voices heard.

James and Dylan from Osbourne were accompanied by staff to the event held at Woodlands Adventure Park in Totnes. The event was an opportunity for young people to meet with a whole range of stake holders within their local community including representatives from the county council, the police, social services, health care and community groups. It was also a chance to use the park in between sessions to let off steam and have some well-earned fun!

The whole day was set up so that young people could address their questions to the people that could really effect change and to feed back what services and facilities they would like to see and really need in their own communities.

For James it was important to know how the issue of bullying is being addressed particularly in local schools and colleges. He was able to speak at length with a Police Community Support Officer and has even invited them to pop in for a cuppa the next time they are in the area to continue the discussion!

The event was a great success and a lot of very interesting views and opinions from both children and stakeholders were gained about things that need to be made better or need to be changed in order to improve things for all children, young people and families in the county. The next stage for the Alliance is to collate the feedback and from this start to identify the key priorities that will form the basis of the new Children and Young People’s Plan.

The Praise Tree

Every day presents us with challenges but young people and staff at Bourneville have created a praise tree to celebrate their successes and take time to reflect on the things that are going really well in their life.

The Praise Tree has pride of place on the stair well at Bourneville where everyone can see it no matter how much of a rush they are in or how busy the day ahead is. The tree was designed, painted and positioned by the young people at Bournville. Hand shapes cut from coloured paper form a vibrant scene but it is the messages written on the hands which are really inspirational.

No matter how tough a day has been, young people and staff encourage each other to find a positive message they would like to share and they write it on a hand shape and add it to the tree.

The result is a positive daily reminder of the progress being made and a brilliant piece of art work which is changing every day!

The Praise Tree on the wall with hands stuck on        One of the hands on the tree saying "I am special because I'm great at school".       One of the hands on the tree saying "I am special because I have lots of friends".

…….And the Talent just keeps coming!

There is definitely something in the water down at Oakwood Court in Torpoint! Two young people have once again had stories short listed in a county short story writing competition. Rohan has had his work ‘Highly Commended’ while Nikki’s story was placed third.

As if this wasn’t enough, Nikki who was clearly on a role scooped a Gold Medal having won her Badminton game at Bournemouth this weekend. The next stage sees Nikki and her family travelling to Sheffield to take on the next challenge. I hope she has saved some room on her wall for another medal… this space.

Well done to all students and staff at Torpoint who just keep the good news coming!

Nathan on Safari

This was my first time on going on a boat, I put on my life jacket and I listened to the safety talk that we had on the boat before leaving Ilfracombe harbour.

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had never been on a boat before, we left Ilfracombe harbour and went out to sea and the sea spray came over and got us all wet! We were told that we might see some seals and I was looking out for them. The boat stopped a couple of times and we were given some information about where we had stopped. At the last place we stopped before going back to the harbour we saw some seals. They were laying up on the rocks, we couldn’t get too close as they would get scared and go back in the sea. We then went back to the harbour.

I very much enjoyed this trip and I would like to do this again.

Nathan out at sea smiling on a boat  Picture of Ilfacombe from out at sea