Pioneering children in care exhibition needs your help

Children in care is not a subject that attracts much media attention, but a new project aims to change that.

Where’s Your Mama Gone is both a play and exhibition at The Carriageworks theatre in Leeds.

The project focuses on people’s experiences of a childhood spent in institutional care.

It is a topic explored in more detail in the exhibition and the organisers want to hear from local people who may have experiences to share.

The project is the creation of Leeds-born playwright Brian Daniels, social commentator and writer Bea Campbell and Professor of Social Work at Leeds Metropolitan University, Nick Frost.

Exploring cultural heritage

They are now looking for people from the region to come forward to share their experiences of an upbringing in care, in order to collate a series of oral histories that will form the basis of the exhibition.

Did you spend all or a portion of your childhood in institutional care? Would you like to share your story with others and meet people who have shared similar experiences? If so, the organisers would like to hear from you.

The exhibition will draw on the accounts of those who were placed in institutional care and explore how their experiences as children impacted on how they explored their own cultural and ethnic heritage in later life.

Organisers are keen for people in West Yorkshire to come forward and recount their stories to trained student volunteers from Leeds Metropolitan University.

It is hoped that with the agreement of participants, an interactive website and book will be created that compiles the stories captured during the project.

The World Premiere of Brian Daniels’ play, Where’s Your Mama Gone, will open at the Carriageworks for a six-week run from Monday 18 April, 2011.

The exhibition will run alongside the play.

Set in West Yorkshire, the play follows the lives of two siblings who find themselves in care after their mother becomes the victim of a reckless serial killer.

Stories ‘very private’

It is inspired by Richard McCann’s novel Just a Boy.

Richard’s mother Wilma McCann was Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe’s first recorded murder victim in 1975 – when Richard was just five years old.

Mr Daniels explains the reasoning behind the exhibition: “The idea is to collate oral histories of people from Yorkshire who have spent all of, or a portion of their childhood in care.

“We believe these accounts will provide an excellent accompaniment to the play and help to draw out some of its most important themes as well as highlighting important social issues.

“Of course, we understand that childhood stories are very private to some and our volunteers have been trained to handle every single one with care and discretion.

“We hope to hear from those people that would like to share information about their time in care and what this period of their life means to them.”

Mr Daniels added that the information gathered will help educators understand the heritage loss of looked after and fostered children.

It is hoped the information obtained will help organisations including the probation, social services, police and prison authorities.

If you would like to be a part of the project, please email Brian Daniels or contact him on 020 7794 7088.