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The Strategic Manager for Children Looked After and Resources, Claire Morris, gave an example of how the young people looked after had made her proud over the Christmas period.  The young people regularly receive Christmas gifts donated by a Durham company and the company had been particularly generous this year. The young people were so pleased with the gifts they received that they used excellent IT and creative skills to produce a montage of images of themselves enjoying their presents over Christmas, which they sent to the company as a gesture of thanks. The Strategic Manager expressed how moved she was when she viewed the montage and how impressed she had been at the amount of effort the young people had put in to such a professional piece of work, which they had taken upon themselves to produce, to show their appreciation.


Following the discussions with the Children in Care Council regarding the importance of pets, the Strategic Manager was pleased to report that a number of children’s homes had introduced pet hamsters.  She spoke of how the young people had been mindful to ensure that all those in the home were receptive to having pets.  Other pet activities include children’s homes holding ‘dog-fostering days’ which enables the young people to participate in dog-walking and dog-grooming, one home has an allotment with chickens and one young person is helping a horse owner to care for a horse.  Young people’s Safety Plans now include a section on pets which details the pets young people would like to keep in contact with, in the event of moving on, and relationships with pets is now a part of social work training, with the work being replicated in the fostering service. 


Carole Gill, Operations Manager, thanked the members of the Corporate Parenting Panel, and all those who had provided support throughout the year.  She remarked on how generous people had been this Christmas, which had been greatly appreciated.  She thanked Judge Scully of Newcastle Combined Court and her colleagues, who carried out fundraising for care leavers over Christmas which resulted in such a large amount of gifts that the service had been overwhelmed by the kindness.


Councillor Scott spoke of how heart-warming these good news stories are, particularly at this time, and she paid tribute to the staff for all their efforts.


Councillor Gunn, Chair of the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee echoed the sentiments, adding that staff and young people had clearly made an extraordinary effort during this difficult year.


Councillor Gunn thanked the Corporate Parenting Panel for their work and reported that in her role as Chair of North East Regional Children and Young People’s Service Lead Members Network, she and Councillor McKeon had delivered a presentation to one of the meetings, on Durham’s Corporate Parenting Panel model.  The feedback from that has led to aspects of Durham’s model being adopted by other authorities, which is testament to the excellent work of the Panel.


The Chair, on behalf of the Panel,  thanked all officers, not only for the reports presented to the formal meetings but also for the regular briefings and updates from the service provided between meetings.  The Head of Children’s Social Care emphasised how important the support of the Corporate Parenting Panel is to the service.


The Chair noted Councillor Tucker’s resignation from the Corporate Parenting Panel and placed on record the Panel’s thanks to Councillor Tucker for her valuable contribution.