Creative Care Leavers Show Their Achievements At Special Event

Young care leavers with interests in poetry, rap, art and film making will show their achievements at Tate Britain in a special event to mark the start of National Care Leavers Week 2006. Taking place in the main hall of Tate Britain between from 7pm on 23 October, Futures will give those with an interest in looked after children and care leavers an opportunity to celebrate the potential of young people with care experience. The young people performing are from areas across England and Wales including Derbyshire, Anglesey, Bexley, Redcar, Hillingdon and Lancashire.

Futures is a collaboration by the care leaver-led organisation A National Voice (ANV), the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), Barnardo’s, youth charity The Prince’s Trust and the National Leaving Care Advisory Service (NLCAS). Speakers at the event will include David Kidney MP – Chair of the All Parliamentary Group on looked after children and care-leavers.

Chief Executive of SCIE, Bill Kilgallon, said that the event will serve as a timely reminder: “Young people who leave care often miss the opportunity to reach their full potential because of the complex pressures on their lives. As the government has launched its green paper and set out its proposals to address the challenges faced by looked-after children and young people, it is particularly important that we remember the support young people need in transition to adulthood.

“Despite research showing the benefits creative pursuits can have on the self esteem of young people, care leavers are underrepresented in performing arts. Futures is a fantastic opportunity to show what these young people can do when they are given the support they deserve.”

The Prince’s Trust Head of Target Groups and mentor James Cathcart has added: “This is a fantastic showcase of the creative talent that people from care can use to get their message across. We want to see young people from care get the same opportunities as their peers to succeed. This special exhibition will challenge the stereotypes and stigma that all too often lower expectations of these young people.”

As part of its ‘This is not a suitcase’ campaign, the user led in and leaving care organisation ANV will also host a bin bag fashion show, The Refuse Collection, at the Futures event. The campaign, which ANV has been running for the past two years, is a catwalk protest against the practice of using bin bags to move children’s belongings which is still used by some local authorities in the UK.

ANV have vowed to continue the campaign until every local authority has agreed to provide young people in care with proper suitcases or luggage to move their possessions. ANV has designed a ‘no bin bag charter’ to allow the 150 local authorities to pledge their support – over half have signed up so far.

Southern Development Worker at A National Voice and care leaver, Sam Block, said: “As young people in care move between placements, area and surroundings, their belongings are the only things that remain constant and stay with them. Belongings are important and should be treated with respect – they are not rubbish to be moved around in flimsy bin bags.

“A National Voice are delighted that 80 of the 150 local authorities in England have signed up to our ‘no bin bag charter’ and have agreed that young people should not be given bin bags to move their possessions. But the campaign will not be finished until we have complete agreement and the bad practice has been stopped throughout the country.”