On 12 July we hosted an online discussion between young people and Lemn Sissay to talk about the last 30 years of the care system and what the recently published Care Review might mean for the future.
Together with care-experienced writer and broadcaster, Lemn Sissay, young care leavers Rachele and Shona, care-experienced Become Trustee, Pip Uden, and Chief Executive of Become, Katharine Sacks-Jones, we asked: in the last 30 years of the care system, what has really changed? And, importantly, what can we expect as we look to the future?
The panel shared many powerful insights during the hour-long event. Here’s what was said:
“Become started as the Who Cares? Trust, originally a magazine that went out to care-experienced children and care leavers to show them they were not alone, that the charity was thinking of them,” explained Katharine.
“The stories told by children in our magazine are the same stories today – one of instability – having to change schools, social workers, or where they live at least once a year – and the fear of leaving care, usually on their 18th birthday, and being expected to live independent lives. It’s far too much to ask of a young person, who’s experienced so much instability and trauma.
“If we keep listening to young people and supporting each other, I hope it means we won’t be having these same conversations in the next 30 years.”
We now campaign on behalf of children in care and young care leavers to create real change in the care system, as well as providing one-to-one support through our Care Advice Line, bespoke coaching service, and Propel – our specialist service to help young people access further and higher education.
“Become listens to us the way the care system and government doesn’t,” said Pip, who grew up in a kinship arrangement with extended family members and is a young Trustee at Become.
“What we want is someone constant in our lives, who believes in us and says go for it.”
“Things need to get better in so many areas,” added Rachele, who entered care at 17.
“What goes on inside the system is based on decisions made outside of it. There needs to be far more to support black and minority, and LGBTQ children in care, to help them find cultural things that matter to them.”
“There’s not much advice when you’re in care and even less when you leave it,” said Shona, who entered care aged 17.
“When you turn 18 it’s entirely our responsibility to make our lives work, and that’s just to survive. We want to be helped to make our dreams and hopes come true like any other young person.”
Reaching the end of the discussion, Lemn Sissay appears visibly moved by Shona’s words about ‘waiting for the crisis’
“It’s ‘waiting for the crisis’ because that’s what we waited for as kids. It’s only when the crisis hits that we then feel we can ask for help… I’ve learned something big here. I’m going to remember that for the rest of my life.
You can watch the recording back below:
Our webinar – thirty years on, where do we stand today?