Tell us a little about yourself

Hi, I’m Nikki Thomas, I am an active person who struggles to sit still for any length of time so I keep myself busy with tennis, running, hill walking and my allotment. I love going camping and to festivals and my favourite shoes are definitely my wellies!

Tell us about the work you are involved in

I work for the Why Not? Trust. The Trust started in 2014, when Care Visions (the largest independent care provider in Scotland) identified an unmet need for young people leaving its care services to continue the relationships with those who had looked after them during their time in care. In 2018 we became an independent SCIO and have worked tirelessly to ensure the holistic wellbeing of all our care leavers, upon and after leaving care, through connections, relationships and our wider community. Instrumental to this is the framework we have put around enabling continuing relationships between key workers / carers and young people in the care system. These carers / professionals become Connectors and continue their relationship with the young person when they leave care on an informal, voluntary basis enabling friendship and mutual respect to develop further. Through our unique relational approach, the Trust removes barriers between young people and their carers to support, facilitate and legitimise these meaningful relationships, ensuring they can continue safely with all the necessary safeguards and supports.

I joined the Why Not? Trust in their new Director role in August 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic, which was let’s just say an interesting time to start a new job. My focus is to grow the Trust and increase our support to young care leavers and their wellbeing.

How did you get involved with the Real toolkit advisory board?

I got involved in The Real Toolkit initially as a way to network within and learn about the care sector and its impact on those who experience it. Due to the social and workplace restrictions I have not been able to meet up with key people within the sector as much as I would have liked and this gave me a great chance to meet, listen and learn.

How have you found co-producing The Real Toolkit with young people with care experience?

The Toolkit is so important, especially as it is being created on the terms of young people, to help support care leavers upon leaving care. However I also think that the information available to professionals and key is invaluable.  It has been a wonderful opportunity co-producing this alongside young people. I have learned so much and it has really helped me gain a much deeper understanding of the system, its impact, what works and what could be improved for everyone involved. The young people have been so candid, open and honest about what works for them and this toolkit enables us to ensure their voices are heard and they get what they need.

What do you hope The Real Toolkit can achieve?

I hope the Toolkit will bring significantly more consistency to leaving care for young people and those who care for them and support them. It can be confusing and difficult to find and access the information needed and it is often stored in different places, so having one place where key information can be found will alleviate a lot of worry and concern, and hopefully give young care leavers the chance to look forward to the next step in their lives.


Click here to find out more about The Real Toolkit and how to become a member of the Advisory Group