In the final years and after leaving the homes I became involved in lobby groups to change “the system”. But really I was only confirming that what happened really happened. There were others. We made leaflets set up conferences and talked our stories. Today these lobbying groups and their campaigns for change are documented in Mike Stein’s book Care less Lives (pic on right) which tracks The Childrens Rights movement as actioned by young people in care from 1976 to the present day. My poem from the Black And In Care video is recorded in this book and dated 1984.
But the structures we set up to lobby the care system reflected the needs of the system more than the child. We set up management committees and sub committees to lobby their sub committees. We determined our victories using their language. We helped them iron out problems that were a result of their behaviours. Our victories were infact their concessions. The subjects of the experiments were talking back to the technicians.
Soon enough we were speaking in abbreviated sentences like them. “The system” had trained us well. We left to serve it by “training it” and gained recognition as functioning adults. I was not convinced then. I am not convinced now. There is a deeper issue. Way way deeper. Family is an autocracy not a democracy. This care system speaks of its development in terms of “giving young people a voice” as if they have none and of young people’s need to express themselves as if they are not already.
Young people in care employ extraordinary skills to deal with extraordinary situations on a daily basis. They are legally parented by a government which should be assessed above all by how it treats its child. If we begin from this perspective then Mike Stein won’t need to publish another book in twenty years time.