What is Lifelong Links?

Logo - Lifelong Links, with strapline 'lasting loving relationships'

Lifelong Links aims to create lasting support networks for care experienced children and young people who have lost connections with family members and other important people during their time in care. This approach was developed by the Family Rights Group with the support of care experienced young people.

Lifelong Links is for children and young people in care or who have left care and meet these criteria:

  • There are no plans for the young person to live within their family or be adopted.
  • Are currently in care or are a care leaver with an allocated Social Worker or Personal Advisor.

How does it work?

The work of Lifelong Links includes identifying and involving relatives and other supportive adults connected to a child or young person with care experience, who are willing to make a lifelong commitment to them. To accomplish this, a Lifelong Links Coordinator will search for family members and other adults, such as former foster carers or teachers, to convene in a Lifelong Links Family Group Conference (FGC). During the FGC, the identified individuals come together with the young person to create a support plan together.

This plan becomes part of the child’s care plan with the Local Authority. Lifelong Links puts the child or young person at the centre of this work, making sure they are listened to, their views are heard, and they feel involved in the decision making process.

Why do we have Lifelong Links?

The need for Lifelong Links was highlighted by the Care Inquiry (2013), which found that the care system often breaks relationships instead of building them, often leading to instability and various negative outcomes for young people. Stable support from family and community is crucial for young people transitioning into adulthood. Lifelong Links can improve outcomes by building stronger relationships and improving mental health and wellbeing.

What does the law say about it?

The Children Act (1989) says Local Authorities have a duty to promote contact between a child and their parents, plus important people in their lives. Lifelong Links helps children in care connect with their extended network, promoting these relationships and building a stronger sense of identity.

What do we have it in Salford?

In Salford, Lifelong Links is part of the Family Group Conference Service. A small team works city-wide with children in care who meet the criteria listed earlier.

By supporting these children and young people to build positive networks and relationships, we aim to improve outcomes for some of the most vulnerable in our city.

More information:

If you would like to find out more about Lifelong Links in Salford or if you are practitioner working with a child or young person who thinks Lifelong Links could help them, please get in touch using the contact details below:

Amy Udall, Family Group Conference and Lifelong Links Manager

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