We have put together posts introducing to you the hosts of Home and Belonging, the team of facilitators, as well as providing a compilation of useful resources. You can read our reflection on the event, featuring details on the Funding Initiative

  • Barbara Mertlova

Home & Belonging, in Reflection

Updated: Sep 28, 2018

The 'Home and Belonging' event hosted by Life Changes Trust Care Experienced Young People Programme, in partnership with Open Change, took place on the 4th and 5th of September at the Steeple Church in Dundee.

It marked the launch and first stage of the £4 million Home and Belonging Funding Initiative, which you can find out more about on the Life Changes Trust website here.

Home and Belonging provided an opportunity for those interested in applying to this fund, and those with a particular interest in this work to meet a wide range of people, build relationships and start to develop bold and radical proposal ideas. The key objective was to bring fresh perspectives to this area of work, and build new collaborations.

We want to first and foremost thank all our participants for the time and energy invested into the 2 days. We are humbled by the enthusiasm, dynamics and general atmosphere that filled the room, demonstrating the readiness to embrace ways of doing things differently.

The Home and Belonging funding initiative has been designed to provide an inspiring opportunity to re-imagine what a fulfilling future can look like for a care experienced young person, based around a safe, welcoming and personal space – their home.

The initiative aims to make a significant contribution towards transforming care experienced young people’s life stories as they grow and develop beyond formal care and to make sure they are supported to find a strong sense of home and belonging in their own communities.

This event provided an opportunity for those interested in applying to this fund, and those with a particular interest in this area of work to meet a wide range of people, build relationships and start to develop bold and radical proposal ideas. The key objective was to bring fresh perspectives and build new collaborations.

The two days provided an introduction to design thinking, with the main focus on co-designing services. The event introduced a range of tools and methods of service design, and helped participants start to develop ideas and prototypes. Activities were interspersed with ‘Lightning Talks’ from a selection of inspirational speakers.

The event aimed to inform, motivate, and encourage participants to embrace a culture of doing things differently.


80 participants were welcomed to the venue in the heart of Dundee. They came together with the purpose of understanding better the journey of Care Experienced Young People when they leave formal care, and to explore where there were gaps, areas for improvement or new ways of supporting young people to create a safe and suitable home of their own. Emphasis was placed on the importance of collaboration, working together, and listening to all voices – including those of care experienced young people. Groups for the event were carefully formed in an inclusive and diverse way.

Day one featured four lightning talks, spread across the day, which participants assessed as 'a great mix of inspirational speakers and practical tasks', and further highlighted that it helped to 'hold attention'.

The talks started with Ewan Aitken, CEO of The Cyrenians, who reminded us to keep our values close. He also spoke about the power of keeping things simple, followed by Chris Kilkenny, public speaker and campaigner, who bravely shared a moving, personal journey with the room. 'The difference between hope and hopelessness for a young person is just that one person who cares.'

Dave Close, Executive Director of the Hot Chocolate Trust based in Dundee, explained how they believed it was important to provide opportunities for Young People to make decisions themselves, rather than just organising things for them.

Last on stage was Graham Leicester, Co-Founder and Director of International Futures Forum, who emphasised the need not to be afraid of failing. 'Transformative change takes time and to begin with, it can feel like failure.'

The main focus of the first day was theme identification, where groups were using methods introduced by the team from Open Change. This allowed them to define some of the overarching key problems, which were then narrowed down and prioritised. Some of the emergent themes included Being radical, Love, or System Change.

Day 2

Elaine Cochran from Cornerstone, an organisation which provides individualised care and support to over 2,000 people, started off the second day of the Home and Belonging event with a powerful talk that inspired participants for the day ahead. The morning was filled with more expert inputs on service design methods, such as personas, prototyping, and using video as a research tool. You can read more about how those tools can be used on our resources page.

Over the afternoon, teams moved on to the final stage of refining their projects and ideas, focusing on creating physical prototypes which each of the groups then presented at the end of the day.

Each project was tasked with coming up with outputs that could be taken forward after the event. The success of the approach was underlined by participants saying that they would 'continue re-designing and prototyping [the] current work project.' Some participants also intended to 'contact other projects to work together.'

You can follow chronological developments of both days in our Wakelets here, and a video of the event will become available shortly.

Some of the feedback participants of Home and Belonging have given:

I liked how different the activities were and the passion of the team of facilitators.

I liked meeting new people, networking and collaborating.

I liked being challenged to think about things differently.

I liked the involvement of the young people.

I liked the energy in the room, and the structure of the two days.

I liked having the opportunity to explore an idea in depth.

I learned a lot about care experienced young people and the problems they face. But people do want change! And it will happen!

Tomorrow I will feedback to the CEO and arrange meeting with social work.

Tomorrow I will speak with young people and let them brainstorm ideas.

I've been to many Funding events as a Care Experienced Young Person, and not that many changes have been made. But I want to say thanks to everyone here, because it feels good to know, that people do care.

It’s been inspirational and to get planning.

Life Changes Trust can be found at

Find all details by browsing our website

Follow us on Twitter @HomeandBelong and browse the hashtag #HomeandBelong

Watch video documentation of the event at

Photography by Erika Stevenson.

©2018 for Home and Belonging by Open Change