Michael is now 20 years old and was fostered by Next Step for 6 years during his teenage years. Michael had many challenges to face as he grew up and found these difficult to manage on occasions.

He certainly demanded the full support of Next Step during these times.

The strength of Michael was his articulate manner to ensure his voice was heard; to ensure his rights were upheld and to make sure those looking after him were also accountable. Whilst this can be a challenge for some adults to cope with, we saw something in Michael that should be harnessed and channelled in the right direction.

Next Step is an agency that helps develop community services and resources for foster carers and independent agencies and was instrumental in developing the FIRST Healthy Care Partnership in the UK, based in Kent. This involved working closely with other agencies, the National Children’s Board (NCB) and the Health Services in Kent. As part of this group, Michael was recently invited to join as someone with experience of living in the care system, to offer views and ideas about how best to involve children and young people and to give a perspective on services.

Michael’s strengths that we identified earlier in his teenage years came to the fore and his clear thinking, no nonsense and task centred opinions were really valued and respected.

Michael now lives independently with his partner and runs 2 small businesses. He will always be a part of Next Step and we regularly keep in touch with him.

A success story that shows the benefits of being able to see beyond behaviours, stick with the positives and advocate for a young person like parents should.