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Case study

Middlesbrough Children Matter

A co-created vision that took Middlesbrough Councilon a vibrant ‘improvement journey’ to show Middlesb rough Children that they matter.

Case studies

In 2020 following an ‘inadequate’ OFSTED, Middlesbrough Council approached the Care Leaders to for support with their vision, ‘Middlesbrough Children Matter’

Our role was to establish a strong brand with a clear mission, vision and purpose and co-create this with young people and staff and provide specialist support to key areas of the children’s service’s.

These Areas Were:

Education – develop media aimed at encouraging young people to return to school post Covid.
Future for Families (Edge of Care) – develop the launch and website for this new service
Leaving Care – revise and relaunch the leaving care offer
Participation – build an authentic and sustainable approach to young people’s participation

The Care Leaders worked alongside a project manager, project sponsor, operational lead, communication and ICT experts and young people to craft a vision that guided Middlesbrough through ‘special measures’ and into a vibrant improvement journey.


Using our digital capacities and our experience in design, communication and engagement we:

Created a vision

We developed ‘Middlesbrough Children Matter’ to alight the service to follow a common goal.

Build a brand

We built a vibrant brand to communicate Middlesbrough Children Matter internally and online.

Developed Guiding Principles

To ensure the corporate parenting strategy was child focussed, we co-created guiding principles with young people.

Produced Films

Care leavers directed films that communicated how services could support them.

Established a Youth Forum

The Middlesbrough Children Matter vision was for young people, we established a board for them to guide the project

Rebranded the Participation Service

Working closely with the participation team, we rebranded the service to appeal to young people.

Improved Leaving Care

We were asked to rebrand the leaving care offer so it was more accessible to young people, available digitally and print.

New Website

Children’s services wanted to ensure the first point of contactcommunicated that Middlesbrough Children Matter, so we made a website to do just that.

Social Media

We developed a 12 month social media calendar that spoke about how much Middlesbrough Children Mattered.

We had a strategic approach to show develop Middlesbrough Children Matter

It was important to have a strategic approach to develop Middlesbrough Children Matter, this project engaged children’s services, their partners and the wider council. This required a clearphased approach that enabled us to provide the leadership that was needed to make this a success.


Phase 1: Research

We took a deep dive and researched demographics of young people, learnt what they needed and how to measure impact.

Phase 2: Design

Co-designed a vision to guide children’s services to meet the needs of young people.

Phase 3: Create

Created the brand, media and website to communicate the vision and strategies that underpinned it.

Phase 4: Launch

We launched the vision internally, backed by strategies and seniors, with clear calls to action.

Phase 5: Sustain

By providing training and ongoing support we embedded the vision into culture and made it business as usual.

Phase 6: Handover

We handed over the project and exited knowing Middlesbrough Children Matter.



A clear vision that guided Middlesbrough through a vibrant improvement journey.

Middlesbrough needed a vision to communicate ‘Middlesbrough Children Matter’. They asked The Care Leaders to support them to build a strong message that could guide children’s services towards a common goal and show children they mattered.

To incorporate the vison into culture we:

  • Produced a mission statement
  • Created a clear vision
  • Authored a statement of purpose
  • Turned corporate values into tangible behaviours
  • Engaged with 300 members of staff
  • Took guidance from seniors, staff and young people.
Teen Devices
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Youth forums guided the whole project

This was a project to show that Middlesbrough Children Matter, we worked closely with the participation service and 5 youth forums who worked with us every step of the way, held us accountable to our commitments and developed the brand to communicate Middlesbrough Children Matter.


Young people developed a brandthat spoke to them

The council knew that their brand was acting as a barrier to young people engaging. We worked alongside their participation service, young people and the local authorities design and communications team to develop a brand that engaged young people.

Through weekly meetings, a series of workshops and several staff votes, young people created a brand that they owned.

Middlesbrough Children Matter Logo

  • Logo
  • Colour Scheme
  • Icons
  • Imagery
  • Typography
  • Personality and Tone
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Guiding principles, co-produced with young people to underpin the corporate parenting strategy.

To ensure we developed a corporate parenting strategy that was underpinned by what young people told us was important, we co-created 6 guiding principles focusing on key areas and communicated them directly to young people.

Friends and Family

You will have contact with all of the people who are important to you in your life.


You will have excellent support to access the Education, Employment and Training that you need.


You will grow up in a stable and secure home arrangement that meets your needs and wishes.

Health and Wellbeing

You will have easy access to specialist support for your emotional and physical health and well-being.

Adult Life

You are supported to leave care when you are ready, and to make a positive transition to adult life.

Voice and Influence

You will have a voice and opportunities to influence your plan for permanence and our wider Corporate Parenting offer.

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We produced films to encourage young people to return to school after COVID-19

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A leaving care offer that was accessible and easy to understand

Middlesbrough wanted to rebrand their leaving care offer, they knew their offer was hard to understand, wasn’t designed to appeal to young people and it needed a fresh new look.

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We provided training and support to embed their vision into their culture

Creating a vision is one thing and making it look great is another. To make sure visions have impact they need communicating consistently, training needs to be provided and it needs embedding into support and supervision structures so people can reflect on the new way of working. The Care Leaders supported Middlesbrough to take their vision and make it business as usual.


We facilitated 28 training and co-design sessions


Engaged with 300 staff, young people and partners to develop the vision


Provided 22 coaching sessions

A website to ensure everyone knew Middlesbrough Children Matter

The council wanted to develop a new website so that their vision was the first point of contact, ensuring when we hire people they know that we make sure Middlesbrough Children Matter. This website enabled young people could access opportunities, read information that was important and ensure it was accessible and easy to navigate.

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Following guidance set by government we developed a website that ensured all young people could access

Easy to use

The website was simple to use and easy to navigate

Simple content management

We ensured the council has an easy system to update and manage content

Designed for young people

We were careful to ensure that our website followed principles set out by government to ensure it’s designed for the user


The website was responsive enabling it to be viewed on desktop and mobile

GDPR Compliant

We made sure we developed the website to comply with GDPR keeping data safe


  • Richard Nash
    Director of children’s services, Buckinghamshire

    I’ve seen the language change verbally and in recording, and I’ve only heard positive things from this training.

  • Victoria Banks
    Virtual school headteacher, Middlesbrough

    I highly recommend The Care Leaders to support key stakeholders in understanding the journey through care by those who know it best, care experienced young people. The training they provide is engaging, and thought-provoking and offers professionals a reliable and comprehensive tool kit to enhance their daily practice. Their online platform is easy to access and offers much more than a pre-recorded e-learning course.

  • Leslea Marwick
    Education advisor, East Sussex Virtual School

    Attendees reported that they really learnt a lot. It gave them a good understanding of the situation of children who come into the care system, and how best to support them. The key messages were clear with ‘calls to action which we have been able to take away and use to inform our practice. The lived experience informing this course and the storytelling skills of the presenter made the course particularly powerful.

  • Anonymous
    Fostering team manager

    Certain phraseology has stuck in my head – ‘being emotionally overwhelmed’, ‘Children come into care not because of what they’ve done but because of what’s been done to them’, The session regarding rethinking responses to what children say was also incredibly powerful and is something I will definitely be looking at with my team.

  • Anonymous
    School teacher

    This training has exceeded my expectations. It was the sensitivity of the delivery that made it special…truly making us see the experience through the eyes of the young people in care.
    I now have a better understanding of the care system, and how it affects students. This has led me to be able to better support ‘Looked After Children’.

  • Anonymous
    Social worker

    Brilliant. Really engaging. I felt that way in which you combined personal stories with the data / legal definition side of things was really well pitched. I felt so much more invested in this training than A LOT of other training I have attended.

Who we work with

Care Leavers Middlesbrough Children Matter Youth Voice Bucks The House Project Buckingham Council Department For Education Leeds City Council
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