If you think you know my story think again.

It’s not like anything I’ve ever written. It is based on The Files.  My search for the files is documented in a BBC radio 4 doc I made in 2010 called  Child of The State.  At the end of the documentary I was told ‘the files have not been found’.   Five years later on July 2015 I received a letter from The Authority  “we have found your files. We would like to send them to you”. 

With  evidence of the first eighteen years of my life laid out in the files  I sued The Authority with solicitor David Greenwood.  As part of the legal process I had to undergo a detailed psychological  analysis which was formulated into a report.  I chose to hear The Report for the first time in front of a live audience on stage at The Royal Court Theatre. I did this for very clear reasons. This was not the files.

In April 2018,  three years after  contacting David Greenwood of  Switalskis Solicitors  , forty years after my first written enquiry to see the files and almost a year since The Report made national news, The Authority finally settled.

This photograph was taken in Chambers after an eight hour mediation meeting with The Authority. On my left is lawyer David greenwood. On my right is barrister William Chapman.

Once all this was done I could do what I was born to do. Write. I returned to the original files. My Name is Why will be published in twenty three days. If you think you know my story think again. This story has never been told.  My Name is why can be pre-ordered from your local bookshop or online.

21 thoughts on “If you think you know my story think again.

  1. It was an uncomfortable privilege to be present at the Report. Now I’m looking forward to hearing more of your story at Home in Manchester very soon.

  2. Copy pre-ordered. To say I can’t wait to read it doesn’t feel right. I am sure it will be inspiring and disturbing, will provoke outrage and tears. As part of a survivor-led organisation, your strength and eloquence in speaking truth to power keeps us going. Thank you.

  3. I will certainly be buying your book. I met you once when I knew nothing of your story and the thing I noticed most was your beautiful bright, love filled eyes.
    I can’t begin to imagine where you’ve been and what you’ve experienced, but I thank you for the guts you’ve shown to see this through.
    Not many people can be named legend in their lifetime but you are Lemn! and I feel privileged to have been in your presence that one time
    Big love

  4. Hello
    I knew you from school
    You always had a beautiful smile! But little did we know?
    I will definitely buy your book/story

    Good luck with your future. You definitely need a break!!

  5. I first heard you Lemn on Desert Island Discs. Your voice and your story grabbed my attention and spoke to me. Since then I’ve followed your story and taken hope from your morning tweets. I have just preordered your book on Audible so that I can have the pleasure of listening to you. Although I’m sure it won’t be an easy listen, it’s a story that needs to be told. Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. I strongly believe that your book should become compulsory reading on every social work course. This would surely enable everyone who goes on to work in the care system, to have a much better understanding of the responsibility they have, not just while a child is in care, but also the part they play in shaping the future of every child and young person they share the responsibility for. ‘Lessons must be learned from this,’ is a phrase that is frequently spouted following an inquiry into the abuse of a child or young person and, if ever there was a situation that demonstrates just how many lessons can and MUST be learned it is your story Lemn.

    • When it comes out and people see it and most importantly ‘feel’ what happened to me then I hope it does become required reading. Thankyou

  7. Just read your poem ‘let there be peace,’ after hearing two people on radio 2 talk briefly about it saying good things. I’m going to get your Pbook today if I can – I just read a brief history of you & it makes me feel so ungrateful for all the things I moan or unsatisfied about. You seem a truly lovely courageous person. Wish you a fulfilled happy life Lemmy from a woman who’s 71 and so grateful there are people like you in this world xx

  8. So powerful. I was also at the Royal Court and spent most of the evening in tears. Cannot wait to read your memoir. You know how important this is for you personally and for the care experienced community who won’t get to read their files, or feel so alone or unwell and read for comfort and for those whose silence cannot be unbroken. I am as always in awe of your journey and the path you have created for those that will follow in your footsteps. Much love.

  9. I first became aware of Lemn Sissay on Desert Island Discs, and have followed your work and story since then. Your daily tweets helped me through a sad time. I have pre-ordered the book on Audible so that I can have the pleasure of hearing you read your extraordinary story out loud.
    Thank you.

  10. As you passed through our year at high school,
    I always felt you you had 2 wonderful qualities…
    An artistic and witty intelligence, shielded by a force field of super tough resilience.
    Well done on all your achievements.
    Your poetry is incredible and I’m looking forward to reading your book, perhaps as I sit on the new bench on top of the ‘Green Hill’.
    A good spot to reminisce.
    All the best.

  11. Hi Lemn. Let me introduce myself. I am a White guy slightly older than yourself, living in Longsight, Manchester. From my southern English accent and the benefit of a good secondary school, you might think of me as middle class, although my background is modest.

    I have never had a career as such, but for many years have been involved in supporting homeless asylum seekers and refugees. I have learnt much about the world from living with them, especially about Ethiopia.

    Once upon a time, as you identified, I liked to think of myself as a hero, working outside the corrupt system, self-funded through low wage employment. It was very clearly an expression of my own sense of failure. But I’m past all that now.

    Do I think I’m better than those I help? I am full of admiration and respect for them. Are asylum seekers morally corrupt? The truth is, we are all morally corrupted by living in a corrupt system.

    I’m not better, but luckier: privileged if you will. And I use whatever privilege I have to do what I can.

    And by the way, when you turned on me for my suggestion of how to help Ezana’s case, that I should do the work, it came to my mind that, whatever your background, in many ways you are now the privileged one: you’re the Chancellor for God’s sake, you have thousands of followers and influential contacts, my letters or other efforts end up filed in the bin. And I know you do use your privileged position to good effect.

    It feels odd to me and unfair to be condemned by a public figure: all the more so as your responses to others are so different. It doesn’t matter, but it feels unjust. I’ve always tried to be supportive of you.

    Anyway, I’m sorry I made you angry. I quite understand if you don’t care to reply or decide to block me, it’s fine. If you wish to respond privately, I’m on jimquk@gmail.com. or you can get me on Messenger.

    Good luck with all your work


    • Hi,

      Thanks for your message Jim.

      Good luck with your work and thankyou for wishing good luck on mine.

      Best Wishes


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