I was always writing when I was growing up in care. Not just creative writing, but also writing lots of letters to my social workers and to charities about my situation and what should be happening. I believe that all children in care want to write their story. It gives back some form of control, as when you're in care everything is written about you in your social services file which you don't always see. This builds a drive within to get our stories heard.
About three years ago, I went to an awards event at a local authority. There were local councillors there, including the cabinet member with responsibility for looked after children and care leavers. That cabinet member stood up and said to the care leavers there that the councillors were their corporate parents.
There is still time for the Government to reconsider the professional and financial ramifications, and even more importantly, the ramifications for the children and young people we care for, who need, and have always needed the secure emotional base provided by safe, stable, careful, committed and reflective professional care.
The world can feel like a scary place for any young person striding out on their own for the first time. Thrust into a world of greatly increased responsibility, the transition to adulthood is a challenging time. For most young people there is a support network to help them through this period. They fall back on the support of their family and friends; they learn and adapt. However, for young people leaving the care system this support is sadly often limited or non-existent. All too frequently they are left to fend for themselves without the necessary skills or even a suitable place to live.
In every children's homes placement, there are many human factors to consider. Decisions as to how to meet the needs of the young people require experience, knowledge, training and know-how. Looked after children and children's homes deserve the support of their corporate parents, including you and me, engaging in complex public discussion rather than simplistic sensationalism.
Every child needs a home, someone who understands them and, like every other child in this country, they need someone to look after them. I often leave my Barnardo's visits shaking my head because no young person should have to deal with what these kids deal with. It breaks my heart when I hear their stories. If for even a second when reading this you've thought about it then please get in touch.