Introducing the new and improved Youth Star to practitioners

Triangle published the Youth Star in 2012 as a light touch tool for community-based youth work. Since then, it has been widely used and the youth sector has changed and evolved. Over the years we have received helpful feedback and realised that we needed to review this Star. Along with updating it, another key aim of the new edition was to develop detailed scales and resources to support training, consistency and clarity as the original edition was published without detailed scale descriptions.

What do I need to do?

If you have been provided with the materials for the new Edition, familiarise yourself with the revised scales, detailed descriptions and new resources (particularly the User Guide and flashcards).

Discuss it with colleagues and try it out before using it with the young people that you support.

What has changed in the new Edition?

Most importantly, we have created detailed scale descriptions for the six areas covered by the Youth Star. These are in a new User Guide, along with a ladder graphic of the short scale descriptions.

In addition, we listened to feedback from young people and workers and changed some wording to be more sensitive, trauma-informed and responsive to the issues people faced and created flashcards and new guidance. Specifically:

  • The first stage of the Journey of Change is renamed stuck, to recognise that things may feel or be stuck for many reasons, not because the young person is ‘not interested’
  • The first scale is now Interests and activities (replacing ‘Making a difference’), and is broader, to recognise activities that are positive for young people but not aimed at making a difference to others.
  • Health and well-being replaces ‘Well-being’ and includes physical health and managing mental health as well as emotional health.
  • Education and work now emphasises getting the most out of school, training, apprenticeships, work or college rather than focusing on achievement.

There are other minor tweaks to scales, with some aspects moving from one scale to another to increase clarity and accessibility.

The new Youth Star

New resources

User Guide with detailed scale descriptions, flashcards and new guidance

Improved wording

More accessible, clear and trauma-informed

Revised scales

Interests and activities, Health and well-being, Education and work

Journey of Change

‘stuck’ replaces ‘not interested’ as the first stage

Going back to my roots: Presenting the Carers Star to the Carers Awareness Day in Hong Kong

Stock photograph of a street in Hong Kong at night
Star co-creator Joy MacKeith reflects on how the Carers Star is taking her back to where she started life in Hong Kong

It is always exciting to have the opportunity to speak at an event about the Outcomes Star, but my presentation on the Carers Star to the Carers Awareness Day in Hong Kong this Friday is particularly meaningful to me.

I was born in Hong Kong and lived there until I was seven. My parents had travelled there from England just six months earlier so my father could take up a management post at the Nethersole Hospital on Hong Kong Island. He had been inspired by his aunt who had worked as a teacher in Shanghai and then Hong Kong from the 1930s to the early 1960s.  What a delight (just) over fifty years later to be able to share a tool I co-created with a Hong Kong audience of professionals, policy-makers and carers themselves.

Photograph of Joy MacKeith as a child with a group of people
Joy MacKeith, aged 6, with nurses from the Nethersole Hospital where her father worked

The annual event aims to promote the awareness of carers and their needs among the social service sector and policy makers. It is organised by Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service (BOKSS) a not-for-profit which provides a wide range of services across Hong Kong including children, youth and family services, services for older people and mental health services.

BOKSS have established a CARE College which provides training to carers, professionals and related agencies and raises awareness of the needs of carers. When they came across the Carers Star they recognised that the collaborative approach to assessment and action planning that is at the heart of the tool fitted perfectly with their holistic and participative approach. 

Image of the Carers Star in chinese
The Carers Star in Chinese

The Carers Star was developed by Triangle with the Carers Trust and Social Enterprise of East Lothian in Scotland. It covers seven key areas in which carers often need support including their own health, adapting to the caring role and making time for themselves. It is already widely used in the UK (including by The Carers Trust and Barnardos) and Australia (including by Australian National Carer Gateway and Uniting Care West), with over 30,000 readings on the Star Online. 

My presentation will introduce the Carers Star and outline its dual purpose as a key-work tool to support a structured and empowering conversation with a support worker, and an outcomes measurement tool providing valuable information about how things are changing for carers whilst they receive support. Sadly for me the event is completely online but on the positive side that will mean that I can be joined by colleagues Angela Kallabis and Laura Baker for the Q+A session. 

Percentage of service users moving forward in the seven Carers Star outcome areas

It is a long time since I lived in Hong Kong, but it is where life started for me and I still have vivid memories of my time there. I never could have dreamt that I tool I co-created would reach out so far into the world and pull me back, half a century later, to my roots. I will follow the journey of the Carers Star in Hong Kong with great interest and hope that it is as helpful there as it has been in the UK and Australia.

 

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The Carers Star was recently translated into Chinese in collaboration with Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service (BOKSS). For more information on the Stars and how to use them internationally or in translation take a look at our International section or contact Triangle for more information.

Moving to the Youth Star 2nd Edition

Graphic: text reads, Youth Star (2nd Edition). A new and improved version of the Youth Star for working with young people taking part in community-based youth projects
Key questions and answers about the new Edition of the Youth Star, and how organisations can transition to the new version

The new Youth Star is a new and improved edition of an Outcomes Star designed to support services working with young people and in the youth work and community sectors. 

1 Why a new Edition?

Triangle is responsible for ensuring that the Outcomes Stars stay relevant and are as good as possible; we keep them under review, seeking and analysing feedback and developing new editions as needed. We published the Youth Star in 2012 and since then have developed many more Stars for different sectors, leading to new learning, including how to make the Stars and guidance even more trauma-informed, strengths based and person-centred.

The 1st Edition of the Youth Star was published without detailed scale descriptions, so a key aim of developing a new edition was to develop detailed scales to support training, consistency and clarity. Further, Triangle has gathered feedback about the Youth Star and also about how the youth sector has changed and evolved, resulting in helpful feedback. This also pointed to a need to review this Star to make it as good a fit as possible for youth work today.

2 What has changed?

We have created detailed scale descriptions for the six areas covered by the Youth Star. These are in a new User Guide, along with a graphic of the short scale descriptions. The User Guide is most relevant as an important new resource for workers, in training and initial familiarisation with the Youth Star and for reference to ensure accurate and consistent completion of the Star. However, it is written in accessible language and can be shared with young people who are interested and able to engage with more detail.

There is more detail in the Development Report but in summary the main changes are:

  • The first stage of the Journey of Change is renamed stuck, to recognise that things may feel or be stuck for a young person at that stage for many reasons, not necessarily because they are ‘not interested’, as the language in the 1st Edition implied. This also makes this wording consistent with other versions of the Outcomes Star
  • The first scale is now Interests and activities (replacing ‘Making a difference’). This area still emphasises helping others, group activities and teamwork but is widened to recognise activities and interests such as sports, arts, music that are positive for young people but can be individual not group activities and not aimed at making a difference to others.
  • Health and well-being replaces ‘Well-being’ as it now covers both a healthy lifestyle and emotional health, including managing physical or mental health conditions. It recognises that those who are younger may not have much control over their diet or other choices and that their family may not support living healthily.
  • Education and work now emphasises getting the most out of school/ work rather than focusing on achievement. It was also widened to include training, apprenticeships or internships and to recognise the role of the school, college or workplace in providing extra support where needed, so it is not just up to the young person. 

There are other minor tweaks to scales, with some aspects moving from one scale to another to increase clarity and accessibility and adding references to social media and staying safe online. In addition, we listened to feedback from young people and workers and changed some wording to be more sensitive, trauma-informed and responsive to the issues people faced and created flashcards and new guidance.

3 Should I move to the new edition?

We believe that the 2nd Edition of the Youth Star is better, and the additional resources will make it a more effective tool for supporting and measuring change with young people, so we recommend you do transition your service to the 2nd Edition. However, the 1st Edition will continue to be available for the foreseeable future, so you have a choice and time to decide.

The 2nd Edition of the Youth Star is available for those with a Star licence to access on the Star Online, so you can download and it and review the new resources for yourself to help make a decision.

4 What should I do to move the to the new, 2nd Edition?

If you already have Star licences, there is no extra cost to using the new edition and no requirement for additional training, though you may want to consider refresher training. Talk to Triangle about your current licencing and how to make the most of the transition to support good use of the Star.

Consider how you will introduce the new edition to practitioners, for example by finding ways to ensure that they familiarise themselves with the User Guide with detailed scales, changes in wording and other new resources, including the flashcards and updated guidance. This can be done through refresher training, supervision sessions, discussions in team meetings and by sharing and promoting the “introducing the new Youth Star 2nd Edition” poster for practitioners, available from the Star Online or Triangle.  

You also need decide when and how to introduce the 2nd Edition. The main options are:

  1. Introduce the 2nd Edition for new clients and keep using the 1st Edition for existing clients who have already completed at least one Star. The advantage of this approach is that clients only have to engage with one version and their change shown from one reading to the next is valid because it is gathered using the same version
  2. Decide on a date from which to introduce the 2nd Edition with all clients, both new and existing. This is more straightforward for the service because than using both versions and makes the move more swiftly to the new edition. However, change measured from one reading to another is not valid and may be misleading if different editions are used with the same person (see data section below). This has implications for both keywork/ action planning with that individual and for the validity of the service’s Star data overall.

5 What about my Star data?

Because some of the Youth Star scales have significant changes and others have minor changes, data gathered using the 1st Edition will not be directly comparable to data gathered using the 2nd Edition. The most marked example is that someone actively and positively pursuing individual interests such as arts or sports, may be at 1 in the first scale of the 1st Edition (Making a difference) but could be at 5 in the 2nd Edition (Interests and activities). The other differences are summarised above and set out in more detail in the development report.

There are three main options for how to approach data and reporting when making the transition to the second edition of the Youth Star, as set out below

We believe that different options will work for different services. The most appropriate approach for your service will depend on how long you have been using the Youth Star and the amount of data you have and the importance for you of being able to monitor trend over a number of years. Talk to Triangle if you would like advice. However, in general:

  1. We would normally recommend the first option as it’s the most straightforward. Although this is likely to lead to difficulty presenting the data in the year in which you make the change to the 2nd Edition, this disadvantage is short lived, and the issues can be explained to those using the data internally and to funders or commissioners.
  2. The second option is generally only recommended for services with a small data set, particularly those who have started using the Youth Star within the last year, and where it is important to maintain continuity of monitoring over the time of the transition to the 2nd
  3. We strongly advise against combining the datasets from the 1st and 2nd Editions as in option 3, as there are significant changes to the scales that make the transition somewhat like moving to a different version of the Star. However, if you would like to be able to create high level reports across the two editions, we have a briefing called ‘reporting on different versions of the Star’ that would help with this and you can contact Triangle for advice as needed.

6 Questions and next steps

If you have any queries about the Youth Star, new editions or what would work best for your service, please get in touch with your Implementation Lead at Triangle, email us on info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or ring us on 0207 272 8765

5 things licensed trainers and keyworkers need to know about trauma-informed approaches

As part of Triangle’s Licensed Trainer option, trainers are expected to complete a certain number of continuing development programs over the course of each year. Nick Karr will be running a session, this May, for Licensed Trainers on how the Star is becoming more trauma informed and how this can be embedded into Outcomes Star training. He shares 5 key things that people should know about trauma-informed approaches.

5 things licensed trainers and workers should know about trauma-informed approaches:

  • A trauma-informed approach, like the Star, uses the client centred and strengths based approaches you already know about and use with clients
  • It shifts the perspective from ‘what is wrong with you’ to ‘what has happened to you’
  • You can’t take away the client’s past – but a supportive relationship with a worker, can make a big difference
  • The conversations you have with clients when using the Star contribute to a trauma sensitive approach, as we are focusing on the present, not the past
  • It isn’t all up to you as a worker – a trauma-informed approach, like the Outcomes Star, needs buy in from your organisation and you need their support.

On May 24, 2021, Nick Karr will host a short session on the Star and trauma informed approaches and training. These CPD sessions are free but available for Licensed Trainers only. Nick Karr has worked with Triangle for seven years. He delivered the first Outcomes Star training in the USA in 2010 and then helped launch and run the Outcomes Star in Australia for two years. Nick is a London based psychotherapist where he has worked in a range of specialist clinical roles, and is now the Lead in an NHS service for people with mental health and substance misuse problems. He completed a Masters’ in Social Work at the Tavistock Clinic, taught on university social work and mental health programs, and is also a Professional Advisor for Young Minds.

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For more information on how the Stars can support organisations and keyworkers to work in a more trauma-informed manner, please take a look at our guide, or contact Triangle for a more in depth conversation about the Stars, which Stars may be appropriate for your organisations and more information on our training offers.

Employability and the Outcomes Stars

According to the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the latest official labour market data shows that “in September to November of 2020 unemployment hit 5 per cent, with redundancies at a record high of 395,000”. While the government’s Job Retention Scheme has no doubt helped many businesses and other organisations that may otherwise have made even more jobs redundant, there is significant uncertainty over what the future may hold.

As creators of the Outcomes Star, Triangle works with many of the organisations that provide front-line employability services, particularly those whose services focus on more vulnerable individuals and groups. People who are unemployed and struggling with issues such as mental illness, addiction or homelessness face significant challenges with finding employment at the best of times; now their prospects of finding meaningful work may seem more remote. Others may have recently found themselves facing family difficulties, trauma or other complex issues as a result of the pandemic that create barriers to finding employment.

It is widely reported that already disadvantaged groups have generally fared worse than others over the last year, exacerbating already existing inequalities. For example, ERSA reports that “disabled jobseekers are now more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people” and that “the UK jobless rate for young black people has also risen by more than a third, to 35 per cent” over the past year.

In 2021 there is a significant need for traditional forms of employment support to help those people who have recently become unemployed or who face the risk of redundancy. However, we must also ensure that the longer term unemployed are not overlooked in the process. There is a need for holistic, person-centred services that engage with the range of complex, and often related, issues that are the underlying reason why an individual may be unemployed. These innovative programmes offer bespoke one-to-one help for people with complex needs, focusing on helping individuals to overcome the specific challenges they face. This is where the popular Outcomes Star can be most useful.

Triangle has developed two versions of the Outcomes Star for providers of employability services: the Work Star and the Pathway Star.

Employment support services have been using the Work Star for many years to support people to return to work or to find a job for the first time. The original Work Star was developed with service providers and commissioners from Camden, Islington and Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council. Now in its 3rd edition, the Work Star covers the traditional areas of employment support – skills and experience, aspiration and motivation, job search skills and the like, but also has two areas for drilling down into the person’s context – their health and well-being and the level of stability they have in their life. The current version was published in 2017 with input from the Department of Work and Pensions, Prospects, Hounslow Council and The LightBulb.

Launched in late 2019, the Pathway Star was developed by Triangle with service providers and commissioners from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as part of its Households Into Work (HIW) programme; a unique and innovative programme of support for people who, because of their circumstances, have difficulty finding and sustaining employment.

The Pathway Star is designed for use with people who need considerable support if they are to move towards work. It is an outcomes tool that helps guide keywork and conversations, with the focus on helping people move towards work rather than necessarily finding a job. It’s structured around the individual and the barriers they face to employment – things like stability at home, household finances, family and relationships and emotional well-being.

For service users, working with either the Work Star or the Pathway Star, seeing their situation and their progress in a simple visual form can be powerful. “I got a surprise regarding my progress over the last few months,” said one person on the HIW pilot. “I’m pleased I’ve got some change in my life where I wanted help.”

“The Work Star is ideal for mainstream services or for people who need help with navigating job search or brushing up on skills. But if you’re a service working with people who are far from being job-ready and you’re offering in-depth, holistic support, take a look at the Pathway Star. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s a really persuasive tool in helping people to change.”
Juliet Kemp
Implementation Lead

For managers and commissioners of employability services, there are additional benefits in the form of the management information that these tools provide. Using the Outcomes Star can provide organisations with a unique and valuable data set around meaningful outcomes for service users and the progress they have made. Analysing and evaluating the holistic dataset collected by the Outcomes Star can be useful in a number of ways:

  • Demonstrating and evidencing the impact of services to a range of stakeholders
  • Learning about what is working well and what can be improved for the future
  • Providing motivation for service users and for staff by highlighting the change that has been achieved

Ultimately, though, the most significant benefit of implementing the Outcomes Star may be the change that this encourages towards more of an enabling approach to service delivery. Employability services that focus on a strengths-based, holistic and person-centred way of working enable individual service users to focus on the outcomes that they to wish to achieve.

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If you have any questions or queries about the Work Star or Pathway Star, or you would just like find out more about how the Stars can support your service users, keyworkers and organisation, please contact us on info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.

Better outcomes for refugees

The genesis of the Integration Star

In a follow-up to our webinar introducing the Integration Star, research analyst Dr Anna Good tells the story of how the new Star for refugees came into being.

Help for refugees to integrate into this country has long been under-resourced and patchy. Specialist refugee organisations are doing brilliant work, but many other services struggle to work out how best to support refugees. And until recently, there’s been little in the way of solid outcomes data that can help shape service delivery.

It’s this context that spurred the creation of the Integration Star – a tool for services working with refugees that enables both better conversations and better outcomes.

The new Star has come out of an exciting and timely meeting of minds. For some years, Triangle had been interested in developing a Star for refugees. “It was on our radar, and several refugee organisations had said it would be great to have an Outcomes Star,” says Triangle director Sara Burns. “I could see it could really work. But because refugee support services tend to be small organisations and quite poorly funded, there was never the support necessary for the collaboration.”

“So I was delighted when in 2018 the Refugee Council approached us and said they wanted to collaborate on a Star. They’d just received a tranche of European funding for a refugee integration programme, and as part of that they had undertaken a commitment to collaboratively create a tool for refugee integration.”

The wider integration and employment programme, New Roots, was led by the Refugee Council in partnership with organisations in Yorkshire and Humberside, and has supported some 2700 refugees, often with complex and multiple needs. In our recent webinar, Better Conversations, Better Outcomes, Refugee Council head of integration Andrew Lawton explains that this programme gave the organisation an excellent opportunity ”to consider how we assessed the impact of our services, not just for the Refugee Council but also for its clients and for others working in the same space”.

“We had often felt that there was more we as an organisation could do to demonstrate a consistent way of measuring an individual’s progression as a result of our support,” he says.

At the time, the Home Office was working on a new framework to support its integration strategy, Indicators of Integration. However, that didn’t include a practical tool for service delivery organisations to measure outcomes. So the participants in the New Roots programme decided to collaborate on a tool that could work for people providing help on the ground, aligned with the Home Office Indicators of Integration.

“We wanted to work towards a set of outcomes that could be used across a range of front line services and that could be shared with other services doing similar work,” says Andrew Lawton.

The Refugee Council was already aware of the Outcomes Stars and approached Triangle about a new Star for refugees. And so the collaboration – between Triangle, the Refugee Council, four New Roots partners and ten refugee community organisations – was born.

These organisations formed the expert committee that helped develop the outcome areas and Journey of Change for the Integration Star. As research analyst at Triangle, I carried out an initial literature review around important outcome areas for working with refugees and mapped these onto the domains in the Home Office’s framework. This research was used to inform Triangle’s tried and tested iterative process of working closely with managers, practitioners and service users to draft and refine the new version of the Star.

“The result? ‘An evaluation tool that places the beneficiary at the centre of their own journey.’”

Andrew Lawton

Throughout the process we were careful to make sure that new Star could work both for refugees arriving through a government resettlement programme and for those who enter the asylum process after arrival. While resettlement refugees receive a package of support that starts with meeting them at the airports and encompasses finding accommodation and providing day-to-day integration casework, the same specialist support doesn’t exist for other refugees. “It’s left to refugee support organisations and the wider voluntary sector to intervene depending on capacity, funding and services they have available,” says Andrew Lawton.

The result of the collaboration? In Andrew Lawton’s words, “an evaluation tool that places the beneficiary at the centre of their own journey, providing them with a tool that is visual, that helps them recognise their own achievements, and really track their own progress with the support of an adviser”.

Following extensive testing and revision, the final version of the Integration Star was published in autumn last year.

“It was a long time coming,” says Sara Burns. “But we’re delighted it happened – it’s a really important tool for the refugee sector.”

Collaborators in developing the Integration Star 
The Refugee Council
RETAS (Refugee Education Training Advice Service), Leeds
PATH Yorkshire
Humber Community Advice Services (H-CAS)
Goodwin Development Trust.

10 community refugee organisations
Leeds Refugee Forum, Refugee Action Kingston, Iranian Association, Diversity Living Services, Bahar Women’s Association, Action for Community Development, West Yorkshire Somali Association, DAMASQ, Stepping Stone 4 and Leeds Swahili Community.

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The Integration Star was published at the end of 2020. A separate version, for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, the Planning Star, was published in July 2020. Both Stars are available to all organisations with a Star licence and training is available for workers and managers. Contact us for more information on info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.

LT resource update

During 2020 we launched a new online system, and all training resources were moved over to that new site in November 2020. The ‘training library’ that some Licensed Trainers may remember has now gone and everything can be found in one place on the Star Online.

All Licensed Trainers should have been sent a new log-in and password to enable them to access the site even if their organisation doesn’t use the Star Online for recording service user Stars. 

There is also a second site, the ‘training site’ which all Licensed Trainers can access.  The single function of the training site is to enable new practitioners and colleagues to understand how the system works.  Trainers can access this site and, if their organisation uses the Star Online system for completing and recording service user Stars, then they will find it a really helpful option. 

What’s new?

There are some new resources in the main site and a useful discrete space for Licensed Trainers in the help section. By accessing the training site, all Licensed Trainers can set up self-directed learning opportunities for their colleagues to practice using the system or trainers can just use it to deliver demonstrations of how it works.

So how do Licensed Trainers access other versions of the Star?

This has been a question that has been asked by many Licensed Trainers, so here is the answer…

Licensed Trainers are only able to access training resources for Stars that are linked to their account (these will have been set up by the account lead for each organisation).  If a decision is made to use a new Star version within an organisation or service, then the request for additional Star versions to be added to the account will need to be made by the manager of the service to the account lead. This request will need to be made before the training takes place or trainers will not be able to access training resources or other resources such as User Guides and Star Charts. 

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Licensed Trainers are part of a community of trainers. For more information on the benefits and uses of becoming a Licensed Trainer or what the process entails, please contact laura@triangleconsulting.co.uk

Demo dates for April-June 2021

A series of free introductory sessions for clients and trainers/trainees introducing them to the Star Online System are planned for April, May and June.

Each webinar will consist of a short video presentation, which will be followed by a question and answer season and it is designed to support clients by sharing knowledge, ideas and information. Please note: these sessions are not a substitute for official training.

A Practitioners Guide to the Star Online

This session is only relevant to practitioners who use the SOL and is not a substitute for training. The session covers an orientation of the new Star Online and during the session we will introduce practitioners to the new Star Online features, such as setting up engagements and managing notifications. It will also explore many of the main tasks practitioners need to complete, including:

  • Creating a service user
  • Adding Stars and Action Plans
  • Navigating the Help Centre and
  • Locating the Star resources you need

Click on the links below to book your place.

laptop with star online open on the screen

How to use the Reports dashboard on Star Online

Hosted by two Star experts, this workshop is ideal for Managers and anyone responsible for producing reports on Outcomes Star data. This session will cover:

  • The three new report dashboards for implementation, snapshot and distance-travelled reporting
  • How to use the filters
  • How to think about engagements to create instant and engaging charts that can be downloaded to add to any report or funding bid.

We will also discuss what the reports can tell you about how Stars are being used in a service and the progress made by service users.

Click on the links below to book your place.

These webinars are not a substitute for core training.

For more information on the sessions, how to book, or what clients need to do, please take a look at our previous posts, or find the links through the Star Online. Please note: We have limited spaces available, and we expect them to fill up quickly!

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If you would like to be included in a mailing list for future webinars, demo’s or sessions, please sign up for our mailing list, and if you have suggestions or would like to request specific content and sessions on the Outcomes Star and the Star Online please email webinars@triangleconsulting.co.uk

If you have any questions about remote training, new Stars, or would like any information on the new Star Online, or anything else, please contact us on info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.

Planning Star helps provide sensitive support for young asylum seekers

Photograph of Marie Buss

There was a sharp rise in the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children arriving in the UK last year, and children’s services are increasingly having to gear up to support them. It’s not easy – but the new Planning Star for young asylum seekers is ideally suited to the task, explains Triangle implementation manager Marie Buss

In August last year Kent County Council announced that it was no longer able to accept unaccompanied asylum-seeking children into its care – it had simply run out of capacity. The numbers of children, mainly teenagers, arriving on our shores without the care or protection of parents, had escalated, and local authorities in the South East were finding it hard to cope.

“Staff who aren’t used to supporting young asylum seekers need to be ready to meet their complex needs”

The Government’s National Transfer Scheme for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children is now under review to prevent the same thing happening again, and responsibility for these children is likely to be shared more equally around the UK. If that happens, staff who aren’t used to supporting vulnerable young asylum seekers need to be ready to meet their complex needs.

That’s where the Planning Star will really help. Designed in collaboration with the South East Strategic Partnership for Migration and the specialist charity Pathways to Independence, the Planning Star is specifically designed to support these young asylum seekers. It recognises that they arrive in this country without their parents, having undergone terrible experiences, and they can’t be expected to trust people, settle or integrate when they don’t even have a decision that they’re allowed to stay here.

Importantly, it takes into account that these children are traumatised, and it doesn’t push staff into trying to do support plans that may prove unrealistic. It shapes a conversation that covers the right areas and is sensitive to that child’s experience. And it’s very visual, which is crucial for children struggling with learning a new language on top of everything else.

“The Star is very forgiving and it’s very trauma-informed.”

So I think it will be incredibly useful for local authorities, children’s charities and residential services to have the Planning Star in their back pocket. As an implementation manager for Triangle, I’ve done some training with services where they were using the Young Person’s Star (for looked-after children) with everyone, including unaccompanied young asylum-seekers. I’ve shown them the Planning Star and trained them in the difference. And the response has been “thank goodness!”, because the Planning Star recognises that asylum-seeking children are on a totally different journey, and have very little control over their lives.

The Star is very forgiving and it’s very trauma-informed. It accepts that children and young people may be starting with a feeling of “I don’t know anyone, I can’t speak the language, I don’t know anything, I don’t trust any of those adults” – and that’s perfectly normal. Young asylum seekers need time and a lot of help to get to the point where they feel ready to talk and then give things a go themselves. Just getting to “stable”the third stage of the Journey of Change that underlies the Star – is a huge accomplishment for these children.

“Just getting to “stable” – the third stage of the Journey of Change that underlies the Star – is a huge accomplishment for these children.”

I love the fact that the Star has one area specifically about immigration with a different Journey of Change that is all about coping with uncertainty and making different plans for different contingencies (known as triple-track planning). And I appreciate how Triangle and its collaborators managed to design it in a way that even if children don’t get the permission to stay in the UK, it’s all about getting them ready for that decision.

It’s about getting children to think, “I need to not get too hung up on the immigration, that’s out of my control. I can only show up when they ask me to show up at the Home Office, but I need to get an education, I need to make friends and I need to think about what my options are in this country, but also be prepared that I may have to return. And I need to think about how I can make the most of this situation while I’m here, and trust the workers to look after me.”

This is something we’re passionate about at Triangle. We’ve done a lot of Stars for children, but I love the fact that the Planning Star is so specialist. All the Stars we design get under the skin of the client group and are trauma-informed, but this one is super trauma-informed. I think people would have forgiven us for not wanting to go down the route of immigration and unaccompanied asylum seeking children – it’s a complex sector, it’s quite legal and confusing – but I like the fact that we did it anyway, for children who will really benefit from it.

One other huge plus – the Planning Star allows people to collate data on asylum-seeking children that captures how they feel when they arrive, what support they accept, what their priorities are, where they’re able to progress, and what areas need more funding. For campaigners and policy-makers that is like gold dust. And if it leads to even better support for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, that would be truly great.

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The Planning Star was published in July 2020. A separate version, for adult refugees, was published at the end of 2020. Both Stars are available to all organisations with a Star licence and training is available for workers and managers. Contact us for more information on info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.

New Star resource for Young Carers – flashcards for the Carers Star

Sara Burns is one of the founding directors of Triangle and leads on the development of new Outcomes Stars. Here she explains why these new flashcards were needed and how they can help

So far, I have always managed to be in the room when we start developing a new Star. There is something of the texture, feel or nuance of a client group and sector that is communicated by more than words. One day I may have to do that on a screen. While I assume that I’ll find a way, I’d still rather not. I vividly remember standing in workshops many years ago when developing the Carers Star. We collaborated with the Carers Trust and they involved their members – mostly small, local services supporting those caring for a family member or friend. Many in the room were themselves carers or had been in the past, and it was invaluable to hear, imbibe and understand their experience. Although we always carry out a thorough literature review, much of what shapes the Stars, and makes them speak to people, is that deep, ‘bottom up’ listening to workers, service users and others.

People asked for resources tailored to young carers

Ideally, each version of the Star serves a broad sector and range of people or needs and that was our aim with the Carer’s Star. Nevertheless, most people accessing services are older adults, caring for elderly relatives, and the Star is what fits best for them. However, since we published the Carers Star, there have been requests from workers who support young carers for tools tailored to them. In this instance, young carers referring to children and young people caring for a relative at home. This came to a head when I was in Australia in early 2020. I was attending an event for the Australian government Carers Gateway roll-out the Carers Star to all services across Australia. Many services in the sector support young carers too and we agreed to develop flashcards to make the Carers Star friendlier and speak more directly to these service users as well.

Young carers can be both mature and vulnerable

Estimates of the number of young carers in the UK range from 230,000 – 700,000. Those accessing services are a fraction of the total: most are not recognised as needing support and don’t come forward due to stigma, not knowing help is out there or afraid of shaming or being taken away from their family. They are interesting and often impressive. The added responsibility can make young carers mature beyond their years and many express pride at being able to help their family members. Yet as a group they are more vulnerable than others, struggling with education, financially poor and more likely to have health difficulties. Research indicates that they worry a lot – about the health or behaviour of the person they care for, their own well-being, who will do the caring in the future, or about being late and unable to meet the demands of education. They can be isolated, with little in common with their peers.

We created flashcards with words and images relevant for young carers

Flashcards offer an accessible, visual extra resource and are already available for many versions of the Star. To develop flashcards for young carers, we carried out interviews and asked workers to consult with the young carers they supported. We also did a literature review to understand more about the specific needs and priorities for young carers. We produced draft flashcards and asked for collaboration to try these out with young people and gather feedback.

We published the new flashcards for young carers in March 2021, with areas of the Carers Star specifically focused on the aspect most relevant to young people. ‘Work and volunteering’ on the Star is represented by school and education in the flashcards. ‘Finances’ is renamed to ‘money’ and highlights worry about family finances rather than budgeting or banks. ‘Time to yourself’ features football and other leisure activities more relevant to children and young people.

We made changes to the Journey of Change underpinning the Star. Some young carers were alarmed by wording which implied that they needed to be independent of support by the top of the scales and indeed this is not appropriate for children and young people, so we removed it. They also found the end point of ‘as good as it can be’ rather depressing, so that was also changed in the flashcards to ‘things are okay’. The start part point of ‘cause for concern’ also triggered anxiety, so we shortened it to a more neutral ‘concerns’. There were other changes too, but this gives a flavour.

The final version of the flashcards for young carers tested well and can be used flexibly by workers to initiate and support a conversation about the seven Carers Star areas that is much more appropriate for children and young people. For consistency, we have also produced flashcards for the Carers Star for the core audience of adult carers. Both sets of flashcards can be downloaded by clients from their Star Online portal.

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The Carers Star is an Outcomes Star for use with people caring for others, it is designed to help organisations and the carers that they support.  It is one of four main Stars which can be used across the adult care sector, other Stars include the Independent Living Star, Life Star or the Older Person’s Star. Organisations that work with young carers may find that My Star or other Stars designed for the family and children sector may be more suitable for working with young people, children and carers under 18. For more information on the flashcards or the Carers Star and Stars for the adult care sector, please contact us.