On St. Andrews Day 2017, young people from our Connecting Voices project in East Ayrshire held a family gathering so they could meet all of their corporate parents.

Having spent a lot of time talking about corporate parents, the group realised that they had met some of their corporate parents, but not all of them. The group felt that the term 'corporate parent' is not very nice, and "it makes them sound like machines", so a family gathering was the perfect opportunity for the young people to meet their corporate parents, and hopefully begin a long and lasting relationship for unfamiliar coporate parents and young people in connecting voices.

In preparation for the family gathering, the young people at Connecting Voices created a corporate parenting family tree and put the names of all their corporate parents on it. They collected pebbles from the beach, and painted words and symbols that represent what they believe their corporate parents' responsibilities are to them as 'corporate children'.

"We could have done it a different way, but the tree is heart-warming and understanding."

The tree is held upright by the pebbles, forming the foundation for the relationship between the young people and their corporate parents.

"My favourite bit is the tree because it is like your own family tree..."

Connecting Voices reached out to their corporate parents by writing an open letter to those who sit on a steering group on East Ayrshire. This worked well, with responses and attendance from most members of the steering group.

The family gathering itself was a great success. Twenty-seven corporate parents from East Ayrshire attended, and participated in creating 'trump cards' for the tree. These included a selfie, name, job title and a number of questions to make corporate parents seem more human (for example 'how many times a day do you people watch?' and 'Have you ever been in trouble with the law?'). This helped to engage and build relationships between the young people and their corporate parents, as well as having a bit of fun.

During the family gathering, discussions were in full flow. These included a better name for 'corporate parents', criminal records, and building trust and relationships. Feedback from all attendees was very positive, and has opened the doors for relationships to thrive between young people and their 'community guardians'.

- Find out more about Connecting Voices