Written by Rachael Vaughan

This year is not only the 10-year anniversary of CASCADE the research center, but it is also the 10 year anniversary of the CASCADE Voices Care Experienced Young People’s Research Advisory Group. In fact, I am reliably informed (by those who were there) that the young people’s group was set up before the center itself. It was their advice and guidance that contributed to its development, and their advice continues to guide us today. The group is run with our long-time partner Voices From Care Cymru. Over 10 years ‘CASCADE Voices’ has welcomed and learnt from many different care experienced young people.  

We have learnt from each other, benefitted from insights, experiences, reflections and knowledge together. We’ve discussed and influenced countless research projects, improving their work with young people and challenging them to think differently. We focused on ways to improve research, always with the goal of influencing outcomes for future generations. Although the research topics can often be difficult, we still manage to laugh, have fun and eat a tonne of Pizza!  

I will never be able to forget: 

  • Failed icebreakers that end in laughter. 
  • Creating and showcasing protest art. 
  • Never being able to get the tech to work without help from the group. 
  • Asking silly questions! 
  • Hearing about all the exciting and inspiring things everyone is up to. 
  • Being distracted by the littlest members! 
  • Watching the group grow with confidence and take on new opportunities. 
  • Being awed by their insights, generosity and passion to make change. 
  • Never running to time. 
  • Working outside in the summer. 
  • The enthusiasm to continue in a pandemic, when the world was a strange place. 
  • A trip to Edinburgh to share our work! 

The group has impacted so many studies, but here are a few examples: 

The group decided the way they wanted to celebrate was a fun team building day out, quite rightly too after all their hard research advisory work! We had mixed results in our ‘Escape Room’ activity then went for a group dinner. 

To every care experienced individual that has ever been involved in our CASCADE Voices group, thank you for your time, passion and insights. We quite literally couldn’t do it without you, and you have been a pleasure and a joy to work with. Here’s to 10 more years!