Blog: I know how it feels to experience care and I want to let young people know they are not alone

Toni Twigg

 

By Toni Twigg, Young Inspection Volunteer

I am a young inspection volunteer and I have been volunteering with the Care Inspectorate for the past three years. 

To become a young inspection volunteer, you have to be 18–26 years old and have personal experience of care. Most volunteers have lived in foster care, residential houses or with extended family in a formal kinship care arrangement. Some have used aftercare support, disability services or experienced homelessness.   

We have a really important role in making sure that children and young people who are experiencing care are heard and understood by adults. We join the Care Inspectorate’s team of inspectors in looking at how well services in a local area are working for children and young people experiencing care.  

We go along on inspections and talk to the children and young people about their experiences. We know that they are more likely to share their honest views with us because we have similar backgrounds and experiences, so we can understand the things they are going through. In this way, we make sure their views are an important part of the inspection and included in the inspection report. 

I decided to volunteer with the Care Inspectorate because I know how it feels to be in the care system and to feel as if no one cares or understands you. I understand that lonely feeling of just wanting your family. 

Valued

I want to let young people know they are not alone. If there are any young people reading this who are experiencing care, I want you to remember that there are people who understand, love and care about you and who want to help you. I make sure that in my role as a young inspection volunteer I let each young person I speak to know that they are valued, they can achieve anything, and that they are loved and cared for by many people in this world.  

Volunteering with the Care Inspectorate is challenging but it’s also very rewarding. Before we can go out and join inspections, we have to complete lots of training. This involves group work/team building exercises and covers lot of things including learning about confidentiality, corporate parenting and how to handle difficult situations if they occur. 

Even when this voluntary work is hard and challenging, I know we make a real difference to the care that other children and young people experience. It’s the best feeling when I talk to a young person on an inspection and they tell me all the right things that I should be hearing about their experiences of a care service. 

I am in a team with 12 other young inspection volunteers who are all great people. They are all kind, helpful, amazing, strong, encouraging people who have been through the care system. Each of us has a very different story to tell and we have all walked different paths in life but we are all connected through one thing – our experience of care. I have made brilliant friends along the way in this team and I like to think of us all as the ‘Care Inspectorate family’. 

No matter what life has thrown at us we are challenging the social stigma and ignorance around kids who experience care. Some people believe we are just ‘trouble’ and we won't amount to anything in life. But we are proving that wrong and we are making something of our lives.  

Volunteering with the Care Inspectorate gives me a sense of belonging. It might not be forever as the age limit for young inspection volunteers is 26 but it’s certainly a start in life and we all have to start somewhere. 

  • If you’re interested in becoming a young inspection volunteer, you can find more information on the Care Inspectorate website. We’re also happy to answer any questions you may have, just email the Involvement team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us on 01382 207142.