CAMPAIGNS: Public Awareness - Poetry book helps Essex kids in care

Client: Essex County Council Social Services

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: A Suitcase Full of Emotions

Timescale: November 2000 - June 2001

Budget: None



People in Essex had the perception that children in care are 'bad' and

are there because they have done something wrong. Essex County Council's

social services department wanted to show that this view was

inaccurate.



The campaign won the Best Publication category at the IPR Local

Government Group awards.



Objectives



To give children in care the chance to have a voice. To challenge the

negative perceptions of children in care.



Strategy and Plan



Essex children in care had an outlet for their experiences and emotions

through creative writing. After discussion with them, the team decided

to use their work to create a poetry book. The book, A Suitcase Full of

Emotions, was marketed at cost price with all proceeds going to a

children's amenity fund.



The Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, wrote the foreword and 2,000 copies

were printed, priced at £2 each. The launch of the book was timed

to coincide with Christmas and with a period of local hostility

surrounding an Essex children's home.



A release was issued to local and targeted national media. The book was

sent to libraries and shops and placed in social services offices.

Councillors were sent copies.



Details were posted on websites and intranets, published in staff

newsletters and displayed at exhibitions. Council staff took copies to

multi-agency meetings, events and council PROs that worked with

children's homes.



Measurement and Evaluation



Coverage appeared in local papers, The Guardian, specialist press, on

Anglia Television and on BBC Essex.



Results



More than 1,700 books were sold and the council received requests to use

extracts to reinforce messages about children in care to groups around

the country.



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