How to stop middle class parents trying to put their children in care

It is National Care Leavers Week.     I’ve said before that Harry Potter was a foster child.  His status (as  fostered child) has spread like wildfire since then.  He’s one of us.     My all time favourite fictional care leaver is Lisbeth Salander.  As a child she was fostered adopted and institutionalised and her new film The Girl in The Spiders Web will be out soon. She’s one of us.

The fiction highlights the non fictional.

Over the last few years I’ve compiled a list of people who were in care. It includes the CEO of a City council, an athletics national medal winner,   a vogue photographer, a stylist for Jennifer Hudson, an Army Major,  an X factor winner,  Newspaper editors,  a florist,  Lords and Baronesses, professional artists,  a plumber, television presenters, headteachers,  novelists, business leaders and barristers.  Those are just a few of the  unique list.

For years I’ve wanted to make a documentary simply about getting them all together for a photoshoot. Because they’ve never seen each other in the same place. And neither have we.

There is a prejudice against children in care. It is so prevalent that those who have been in care spend most of their lives hiding the fact.    The care system should be so good that social workers attend conferences entitled   “How to stop middle class parents trying to put their children in care”.

The song below is written by a young person in care in Canterbury.  The artwork above is by the artist Greg Stobbs.  We made an exhibition of their poems as part of my residency in Canterbury.  Battersea Arts Centre are holding a week of artist led events called “Going Places” regarding Care Leavers. That’s a first.

Later on this month Channel Four will broadcast my documentary film on young people in care. The Christmas Dinners will soon  launch their crowdfunder campaign for The Christmas Dinners this year.  I don’t run the christmas dinners.  They are  independently run by each group in each area. They hold Christmas Dinners for Care Leavers between 18 and 25 years  On Christmas Day.

The clocks are going back at 2am this morning.  We turn them towards darkness.  British Summer time is officially over.  To celebrate I have spent an unhealthy period of the last two days in bed.


15 thoughts on “How to stop middle class parents trying to put their children in care

  1. I was placed in care in England in 1945 at the end of WWII. I was 4 years old. I spent 10 years in a Children’s Home before earning a place at an independent boarding school where I spent a further 5 years. I finished at boarding school in 1959, took a job in London for a year, and then entered university in 1960. Seven years later I had completed my Bachelor’s and Doctoral degrees. Two years later, in 1969, I emigrated from Britain to the U.S. and a year after that I moved to Canada where I have lived ever since. I am now 77 years old. I had an excellent career as a University Professor in Canada having published six university-level textbooks, and served as a Department Chair and, later, Associate Dean at the University of Alberta. I have also been an advisor to several local, Provincial, national and international agencies during this time.

    I am intrigued by what you say about attitudes towards children who have been in care. Back when I was in the system being “in care” usually meant being in a Children’s Home. Nowadays it generally means being a foster child. But many of the attitudes and prejudices have been the same. When I tell people that I grew up “in care”, they almost always assume that my case must be rare because children who have been in care simply don’t achieve what I have achieved. I don’t fit the stereotype!

  2. keep up the good work LEMN IM still remembering more about when I was at WOODEND THE SEVEIER BEATING THAY GAVE ME I TRY AND FORGET BUT WILL NEVER FORGIVE AND I WAS BROUGHT UP TO FORGIVE BY MY MUM NEVER HAD A DAD I WAS THE KID ONLY SEEN IN THE CANTEEN ONCE BERFORE I WAS TAKEN TO THE PADDED ROOM FOR NOT EATING FAT THAY SAID WAS MEET BUT I NEVER ATE MEET I WAS SICK SO THAY TRIDE FORCING THE SICK DOWN MY MOUTH once again keep up the good workLEMN

    • Woodend sounds like it was a harsh place and what you describe Albert, out and out abuse. Important that you share what happened to you….
      Some of my work is with adults abused as children…kids need love and real care..I’m sorry Albert if wasn’t there for you.

  3. I’m not a care leaver. I’m lucky enough to have had a ‘traditional’ big family. So probably my comment sounds inappropriate. But I’ve always been against prejudices of any kind, and appreciate very much what you are doing with your incredible work and passion. I knew about this Going places gigs too late to book a flight etc. 🙁
    Can’t wait to support your Christmas Dinners again. Cheers x

  4. Dear Lemn,
    re the clocks turning towards the dark, yes, summer feels breif here, and many mourn it’s ending, but I was born in winter (personally I feel this makes a difference) and whilst I am always amazed by the glory of summer I actually enjoy the turning towards inner light that winter induces.
    We are in nature’s grasp throught the year, heat and light can hound and overexpose as ruthlessly as coldness and darkness, we move with the seasons like a child in embryo, each year compelled to turn inwards and emerge anew. It is outer circumstances that wreak havoc with this rhythm, and that is the blight of our lot, set apart from nature and living in the worlds of our machinations.
    Finally, I want to say that you for me are emblematic of blazing light in the dark, full of the subtlties of a real fire.

    Many thanks,

    Rhia.

  5. As in any field there are good and bad and very bad social workers. Real damage caused to both child and parent because of guidelines red tape? Social workers need to pass their greatest exam of all before qualifying have a child !!!!!

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