Professor Ray Jones, Professor Pat Dolan, and Marie Roulston met with members of the EBE Reference Group on Thursday 26 January, in VOYPIC’s new Belfast base, 100 Great Patrick Street. This provided a final check-in with the group in advance of drafting the final Report.
At this meeting Professor Jones reviewed the engagement with the EBE Reference Group since its inception in April 2022, and engagements with various agencies and individuals throughout the Review process.
The panel used this time to talk to the group about their involvement in this process and thanked them for the valuable contribution they have made.
Reviewing his notes, Professor Jones took the opportunity to ensure he had captured the main themes the group wanted to see as part of the Review, including the aspects of children's social care that are working well for young people, as well as those that are not and which they thought should be urgently addressed.
Members of the group were keen to know how the report would be progressed and sought assurances that its recommendations would be implemented. The panel discussed their concerns with the group and highlighted the requirement for a functioning Executive and a Minister of Health to endorse any recommendations made. Everyone agreed that this was a huge concern after all the work and effort put into this process by those involved and would be disappointed if it did not bring about positive change.
Members of the group thanked the panel for their time, patience, and consideration of their experiences in the Review and for ensuring that their voice is at the heart of the recommendations.
The group is looking ahead to the launch of the report and are planning to get together to mark and celebrate their contribution to the process. The group also plans to develop its own response to the final report.