Last week, Jade, a young care leaver we work with, shared her story of being moved to Blackpool while in care with BBC News.
“I was thinking how will I see my mum, my sisters, keep in touch with my friends? All the emotions together made me burst out in tears.”
Jade was just 16 when she was moved from London to Blackpool.
Unable to see her family, she faced racism, experienced massive disruptions to her education, and felt culturally & emotionally isolated.
Having been told she would be living in Blackpool for only two weeks, Jade ended up staying for 18 months.
Blackpool has 39 children’s homes, ¾ of which were registered in the last 5 years. It is also one of the most deprived towns in England and has extremely low outcomes for young people.
Sending a huge number of children in care to a place where they will struggle to thrive is unacceptable.
Katharine Sacks-Jones, our CEO, told the BBC:
“The fact that so many children are being moved far away from their home area, school, friends, family, and all that’s familiar to them should ring alarm bells. We know from calls to our Care Advice Line just how emotionally distressing it can be for children, who have already faced trauma, to be moved away from everything and everyone they know. What’s more it can put them at increased risk of harm including exploitation and abuse. This can have serious, life-long consequences for children and young people.
Jade’s experience in Blackpool illustrates just how badly we are letting down many children in care. Being told it was just for two weeks, she instead spent 18 months in a town she didn’t know at all, far from home, with no recognition of her cultural needs and with huge disruption to her education.
More often than not, such moves are based not on the best interests of the child but on a lack of available homes. We have a care system in crisis, record numbers of children in care, years of underinvestment and with extortionately high fees being charged by some private companies. It needs Government action now to make sure that the right homes are available at the right time so that children in care can stay close to the people and communities that matter to them.”
We would like to say a huge thank you to Jade for revisiting Blackpool and sharing her story.
We hope decision-makers will listen to her lived experiences and take action so that all children can grow up with the love, stability and security we all need to thrive.