Shannon's Box is about a sense of giving something back to the care system. I would like to show our young people we do care about their health and wellbeing and give them a sense of feeling loved, as some young people may have never felt this in their lives before.

I would like to make sure that staff and young people get off to the best start by building trust up with this young person from the very first instant. I hope Shannon's Box helps young people feel safer and more secure when entering care and hope it helps build relationships and connections between workers and young people to give them a sense of belonging. It's important to me that every young person feels loved and cared for under any circumstances and that's what I think Shannon's Box will do for our young people.

I started off by collecting feedback on Shannon's Box by pitching my idea to some care experienced young people at Connecting Voices. Connecting Voices is a group of care-experienced young people based in East Ayrshire who come together to discuss the barriers for care-experienced young people, how to overcome them and how to make things better in the care system.

I started by asking them various questions round about the box and the items it would contain, what these items would have meant to them if they had been given a Box when entering care and how it would have made them feel. I remember one young person saying, “I think this is a great idea because some young people may have never been given anything nice in their lives.” This made me determined to make Shannon’s Box happen.

I applied for funding through the Big Lottery with the help of workers from Staf (Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum) which is a charity set up in 1998 in response to the concerns that frontline practitioners and managers had about the major difficulties care-experienced young people faced during their transition to adulthood and independent living. Staf help care experienced young people thrive to a better future and, with their support, I was awarded the funding from the Big Lottery.

I worked closely with an artist called Tessa McKenzie, emailing back and forth and came up with the design for Shannon’s Box. I love just watching birds flying about – that’s where the bird design came from, I find it very calming.

I really loved reading when I was in care and it made me think it would be nice to put a book in for the young person. I got In touch with Scottish Book Trust which is a national charity changing lives through reading and writing. The Scottish Book Trust was kind enough to donate 50 books towards Shannon’s Box when I emailed them and pitched my idea.

As Shannon’s Box will start in East Ayrshire, where I’m from, we had a launch night in the council headquarters in Kilmarnock with young people, residential workers, intensive support workers, CEO of East Ayrshire Council, the Provost, Deputy Provost, and people involved in the Independent Care Review. I would say the launch was a great success!

The feedback on Shannon's Box was phenomenal we got various great responses and I am so pleased it’s all positive.

I would love it if every child entering care in the world could get Shannon's Box hopefully one day. This will be possible one step at a time and I will be working towards hopefully taking Shannon's Box across Ayrshire to start with. If you would be interested in helping me to pursue Shannon's Box in your local authority please email [email protected].