The Wonder of Caroline Bird.

At 10pm on November 28th my television documentary “Superkids: Beaking Away From Care” will be broadcast on Channel Four  Television. I hope you get chance to see it. I am more proud of this documentary than any television I’ve ever made.

There’s somethng you won’t know by watching it.  Most of the poems by the young people in the film were the result of workshops devised and delivered by Caroline Bird. Her process is as inspiring as the results are breath-taking.

I have asked Caroline to work with me on many occasions with young people incare and she has always delivered above and beyond.

In  2012 we worked with young people in care in West London. We  alternated in a series of workshops  with a group of care leavers.  At the end Caroline asked them if she could send  poems by the young people (from her workshops)   into public competitions.

The poems won in a national and international prize and led one young person, Tariq,  to be awarded his prize by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall  at The Victoria Theatre in Central London.

Caroline is an award winning writer and an extraordinary teacher of poetry.  Everything about who she is and her   work can be seen in her face  as she listens to  one of the young people in in Superkids.

“Superkids: Breaking away from care” does include some results of work led by yours truly but the majority of the poems that reached the final edit were inspired in the workshops delivered by the wonder that is Caroline Bird. When I was asked to make this documentary there was one person I wanted beside me in the workshops: Caroline Bird.

If you are looking for help, advice or information and you are in care or have left care  all the information you need is at an organisation called  BECOME.

27 thoughts on “The Wonder of Caroline Bird.

  1. Dear Lemn,
    Really looking forward to this.
    I was lucky enough to come to a recording in Coventry, which was so amazing. Afterwards, I was talking to another audience member, and she said ” We are so lucky, my foster nephew is such a lovely young man” – he was one of the young people who was reading his poems. I said he was fortunate to find her sister also, because she communicated with him so well, and made him feel the love.
    Tremendous work all round!
    Coming to see you tonight at Tod,
    love Judith

  2. Lemn, just seen you on Jeremy Vine and really looking forward to the documentary tonight. I worked with children and young people in care for 25 years before I retired a few years ago. Although there have been some positive changes during that time, I totally agree there is still a long, long way to go before we can say that we do truly care for all children in care. So much depends on individual social workers and team managers, some of whom are totally committed to these children and young people, and who remain in contact with them after they have officially left care. Sadly, as we all know, others fail show this level of commitment and understanding, which is why so many children often suffer more emotional, and in some cases physical harm during their time in care than if they had remained at home within their family. Hopefully, documentaries like yours will help to educate those involved with children and young people in care, and help them to realise the massive responsibility they have, and the difference their attitude can make in shaping a young persons future. Every Child Matters was a piece of legislation that was published a few years ago, it’s about time that everyone involved with a child in care takes this seriously, to ensure it becomes a reality now.

      • Lemn, forgot to say I came to see you at HOME in Manchester recently and found you to be even more inspiring in person, than you are on TV and radio. I raised my hand as I wanted to know what, if any, support you had from social services as a care leaver but unfortunately I didn’t get the opportunity to speak. I encouraged several ex colleagues and friends to watch your documentary and all of them without exception, found the young people, yourself and of course Caroline Bird, to be awe inspiring. Keep up your brilliant work.

  3. Dear Lemn

    I have written a book of poetry of the thoughts of foster young people who have been in my care. I wonder if you are interested in reading it.

  4. Wonderful programme. Thank you and all the participants for sharing such dreadful personal details. It was a privileged to listen to their stories as hard as it was to watch. I stood up to applaud at the end. The change on their faces was a joy!
    Sending you huge love. Your sparkly eyes never fail to make me smile and lift me up.
    Thanks Lemn

  5. Lemn, I want to say, thank you, for bringing these Truths out in the open, for public viewing. At last, some of the children, who have been so badly let down, by society – and so called, professionals, are given a voice. (And a fair trial!).
    I am now retired, but my days in a so called, care facility, are still very much a part of my memory. I fear I will take these memories to the grave, as no-one wants to hear what I have to say.
    I would implore you to consider making a documentary about older people who have (and do), suffer from the dreadful ‘care’ experiences, that so often, came about through wrongful words, misdiagnosis, and disgusting statements, found in the so called ‘Professional Notes’, of ‘care provider’s.
    If you ever, decide to campaign, to get such harmful Notes (written about vulnerable people, who are at the Mercy of Care Providers), abolished (unless signed in agreement with person in need), please let me know. I will sign in agreement.
    Also, can you advise me about obtaining my notes? I phoned the facility I was forced into, to ask for a copy of my notes 4 years ago. I was told they no longer existed. I have not been able to fully accept that the notes were destroyed whilst I am still breathing.
    How would I get social worker notes?
    As ever, no one helps me. Yet, I feel, as you did, I need answers, I need more than memories in my head….
    If you can help me at all, I would appreciate it very much as you know how it feels to be rejected; to be unloved…
    Thank you for caring and for sharing. And, know that whatever is taken from us during childhood, we can, and will keep on loving…
    With love, Angie x

  6. Amazing documentary & incredibly touching to watch. It was also personally eye opening for me as a mixed race woman left in ‘private’ foster care at a few months old by a Nigerian father and Finnish mother. When I was 4/5 years of age, they divorced and left the UK separately without informing my white British, working class foster parents. I was then raised, with other foster children, in the same foster home under Social Services Care. I can also relate to travelling to Nigeria & Finland to meet my biological family & recognising the advantages, opportunities & privilege lives that I was & still am excluded from. Reading my few pages of social services notes (I was born 1954) I saw my father was working as a GP in the UK when I was in foster care. I met him for the first time just after passing my 11+ to go to Grammar school. He wanted me to become a doctor like him!! I became a Social Worker working in adult mental health & now approaching the official retirement age I work as a Support Worker in Children’s Home. I am horrified how the system in now big business for privately owned companies, with top money paid for the most ‘challenging’ children, traumatised and re-traumatised from a multitude of placements, Carers & those who prey on their vulnerabilities. I will be recommending this documentary to the staff in the Homes I work in, in the South East, to watch together with the young people in their care as it could be watched in all Homes as inspiration that they are not alone & there are more creative ways to address the anger and pain that we all share.

  7. Lemn, I don’t even know why I’m writing on your blog because it feels impossible to find words to describe how “Superkids” has left me feeling. It’s like all the stuff I’ve known, rushing up all together at the same time and clobbering me. Those young people. Their talent, fearlessly revealed to them by you, hesitantly acknowledged by them for the first time. Their raw rage. Their unapologetic need. The brutality of their past. The force of your love. You eating oranges in a moment so poignant I could smell them. You. See what you did? You make us ALL find words in the end. Magician.

  8. I was amazed by this documentary and the poems – you could see how getting their stories out in poetry gave them a power no-one will be able to take from them.

  9. Dear Lemn

    I just watched your documentary. I have also just read the comments on this blog. 3/4 way into the programme I was compelled to write to you to congratulate you and Caroline Bird for creating these workshops. The programme was so powerful and loved seeing the young adults air their inner most raw feelings. It crippled me in my tracks listening to their written words when you first met them and asked them to ‘remember’. A human’s childhood is pretty much everything in life – like ingredients – and can determine so many paths that we take because of how we were treated or what we experienced. I am a 51 yr old mum of two who has had a textbook normal privileged happy childhood with two older brothers and present parents so I can’t pretend to know what you and those kids have been through. Everyone has different shit going on in their lives (and I’ve had my fair share due to loss of my wonderful older brother 5 years ago) but being affected as a child causes so much pain and issues. You are so very inspirational and have accomplished so much and I’m sure with continue to grow from strength to strength and brake down barriers. I hope this programme brings you so much more fame too. I just read you received an OBE in 2010. How fantastic and so well deserved. So, I just wanted to let you know that the programme hit the spot. Best Wishes

  10. Dear Lemn, I just watched your documentary on Channel 4, Superkids, Breaking away from care and just had to tell you how it moved me. From time to time, I support care leavers and hear similar descriptions of life.
    Amazing, eye opener to many.
    Best wishes.

  11. Good evening Lemn,

    I’ve just watched “Superkids: Breaking Away From Care” and found it to be a powerful, enriching and inspiring experience, so a massive well done to everyone who contributed to the documentary.

    I’ve worked in residential children’s care
    for the last two years and the valuable learning experiences I continue to gain reinforce my belief in the importance of listening to, understanding and supporting young people, especially in their moments of difficulty.

    I look forward to reflecting on your documentary with the young people I work with when I’m back on shift tomorrow and also exploring opportunities to see you perform in the New Year.

    Peace, Love and Hugs to you,


  12. Hi Lemn,
    I am making a devised drama piece for my a-level exam and would love for some samples from the poems of this documentary to use as verbatim pieces. I love this documentary and the fact that you are shining light on pressing issues. My piece is centred around the practitioner Joan Littlewood which means that the issues I tackle in the piece must be controversial therefore I feel that some quotes from these poems would really help illustrate the real issues with being in care.
    Lucy Fletcher

    • Hi Lucy

      You would have to find the writers of the poems and ask them. I suggest you find and write to John Greg the head of Childrens Services for Coventry



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