It’s time for a little introduction to this rather varied and experienced mix of people!
I am a care leaver, author, advisor, speaker and campaigner. This is my passion. I work as hard as I can to make a difference with Children in care & those working with Children in care.
I support this campaign because I was that Child in care that I am fighting for. I am now a proud father of one son and I could not ever see him out on the street at 16-18 without support or knowing he can't come home or lend money when he is short. Or if he needed someone to talk too. I know what that feels like and it isn't nice.
It's simple for me. I wouldn't kick my son out at such a young and vulnerable age. And I wouldn't do it to the most vulnerable young people who need that support at such a vital stage in their lives.
I was here from the very start and I will be here at the very end! My passion for this has no limits.
I grew up in a lovely house in Muswell Hill, North London. We had two cats Marmalade and Tinkerbell. I had piano and ballet lessons and learnt how to sew. We went to the cinema, theatre and at least twice a year we went on holiday. I had access to books and good old fashioned home-made food. I was in the children's home for 8 years. Children came and children went, some I don't remember others will stay in my heart forever.
I was assessed by an eminent psychiatrist who suggested the psychological damage was so severe that a residential setting would be the best place for me. His name was Dr Soddy! And he was right. For me, the children's home was a safe haven and I still go back there in my dreams.
After a number of years I was offered a foster placement. In those days kids weren't asked whether or not they wanted to go. I was one of the first children to be asked. I said NO!
I am a writer and a campaigner. I was a key player in the campaign to save Friern Barnet Library and have since written a book about the experience, ‘Occupied and Opened’.
When I heard the announcement about vulnerable care leavers, that children in foster care would get support until they were 21 but those in residential homes would still have to leave at 16, I was determined to fight for their rights, to fight for those without a voice, to fight for those too young to understand.
If there is injustice we have to stick together, we have to uphold care leavers integrity, and never give in until justice prevails.
I’m supporting the ECLCM campaign because I believe children in care no matter where they live should have equal support until they are 21.
I am an author, speaker, trainer and coach with a long career in Social Work, Education and Social Inclusion. Up until 5 years ago, approaching my 40’s, I dealt with my experiences through an unconscious process of survival, denial, shame and ‘getting on with it’. When my recovery came to a halt because denying my trauma in its full entirety was no longer an option, I learnt not only deal with my past but to become proud of it as a part of my unique history.
I spent my adolescence in foster homes and children’s homes leaving care at 16 years old which was followed by two years living/surviving as a vulnerable homeless young woman, some of that was street homeless, with the final stop of that part of my life being made at an AA meeting, my last drunk, at the age of 20.
I am a mother of a 14 year old and 17 year old. I seek to pull together the personal and the professional and will campaign tirelessly on this matter. No-one, not one child, should have to endure what so many of us have and what young people continue to live, let alone be subject to legislation that actively encourages poorer outcomes for looked after children by definition of where they are placed.
I am a widower devoted to my daughter and 4 little grandchildren. I am also a retired social worker. I spent almost 40 years in the profession in field work, residential work, inspection, regulation and advocacy.
The direction of my adult life was determined by a childhood in care, a miserable experience, leaving at 18 with nothing to show for it and no prospects. I was one of the lucky ones and life gave me a chance to have loving relationships, a good academic education and a normal life. Many of my peers never got that opportunity.
My career and adult life has been dedicated to ensuring other young people leaving care don't have to experience a childhood like mine in order to have a happy and fulfilled life.
I remain a passionate and uncompromising advocate for the rights of children in care and care leavers.
Falling into the job of your dreams is not usually how the story goes but for me that is the reality.
Becoming a residential support worker was not the route I wanted to follow. I wanted to be midwife! Two and a half years down the line I am now an assistant manager and couldn’t think of working with any other group.
Never once have I felt the dread of getting up for work. I love the pace of the job, not knowing what I will face each day or how we will overcome this new challenge.
Anyone who works with young people in care know the rollercoaster you get on every morning of everyday. We laugh, we love, we disagree, we worry, we stress, we cry but my god, we care and somehow we make a dark day bright again for the kids.
I want to stay on the roller-coaster....it really is far more fun :)
I have spent a (working) lifetime bearing witness to the lives of children in care. I have been a social worker, a manager, a Chief Executive Officer. I remain a social worker committed to trying to make a contribution. I have earned my living and contributed to bringing up my family because I get paid to work with of children who have been abused, abandoned, taken into care and sometimes abused again, passed from one home to another and then sent on their way far too early. I am proud to say that I have always tried hard and occasionally ‘made the proverbial difference’.
I have twice carried or helped to carry the body of a child in care to its grave. One died as an infant and I was, with his mum, the only mourner; the other was murdered and I was privileged to be invited by his mother help him on his last journey.
Children in care are remarkably average, they are bright, challenged, skilled, clumsy, well-behaved, poorly behaved, tall, short, black, white and so on. Remarkably average. Except that they don’t get average chances. Children in care don’t ask to be rescued and we should never think that this is what we are doing. We should be trying to afford them an average, equal opportunity to become average adults. The average adult didn't leave home at 16 or 18 years of age. The average child in care shouldn't be made to either. Every Child Matters (even if they have been in care)….
This is why we are here and this is why we are not going anywhere until we improve outcomes for ALL young people in care through equal legislation!