Children from Wigan borough have developed a new language guide for anyone who works with young people in care.
‘The Wordinary’ was put together after young people and Wigan Council staff noticed that some of the words professionals regularly used could make children feel confused or uncomfortable.
The guide was developed by the ‘Million Voices’ group, the council’s youth group for children in care, and will now be shared with staff.
James Winterbottom, director of children’s services, said: “The Wordinary isn’t meant to explain all the words used across children’s services like a dictionary, but to generate discussion about the way we communicate and to help us engage more meaningfully with our children and young people.”
Olivia, 12, said:
“We’d like people who work with us to use words that we understand. For example, a word I don’t like is ‘contact’, which is what it’s called when we meet up with our families. It makes me feel different and it makes me stand out. I’d prefer it if people said, ‘family time’. It sounds a bit more comfortable.”
Jayden, 14, said:
“I don’t like the word ‘foster carers’ as it reminds me that I’m separated from my mum and dad.”
Creddy 10, added:
“Staff could just say ‘foster mum and dad’ or they could just use their names.”
The Wordinary lists words that professionals regularly use when working with children in care, with suggestions for friendlier, simpler alternatives. The group have also developed a short video to explain the rationale behind the mini guides.
James continued: “There will always be a need for professionals to use legislative and correct terms in professional dialogue with each other, but this is a reminder to talk to children in a clear and accessible way.
“The Million Voices group have done a great job and I think The Wordinary will be a real asset to our service.”
The Wordinary and young people’s video will be shared with staff in the council’s children’s services over the next few months.