The very talented Scarlett Manley has made an animated series about her time in foster care. The videos are raw and powerful as Scarlett wants to be really open about her experiences. She feels it’s important to share her story as other people might have had similar experiences.

Just a heads up, Scarlett doesn’t hold back, so we’re putting a trigger warning on the videos.  You can decide if watching them is right for you. Here’s what Scarlett has to say about her amazing animations.

I started creating short, animated videos showing mine and other’s journeys through the foster care system – how we got into the system, our experience within the system and our experience leaving the system.

It’s very refreshing to be able to share my videos with IMO and be able to share my goal to help destigmatise being in care and care experienced.

I started making these videos recently because every time I meet someone who has also been through the system I find that we share similar views on our experiences. We all have the opinion that there are things that need to change for younger generations going into the system, and that there are things that need to change for when they’re old enough to leave the system.

Popular opinions I’ve come across are:

  • we should’ve been taken/brought into care a lot sooner than we were.
  • our social workers were more focused on their relationship with our parents than talking to us as children.
  • schools are quick to label children as problems rather than seeing their behaviour as a cry for help.
  • leaving the system at an early age does nothing for our development except put us up for failure.

As a result of these conversations, I felt that I needed to create something that people can see visually and either connect with personally or start thinking and talking about. I feel that the videos hold important messages to hopefully encourage and give people confidence to talk about their own experiences.

I’ve heard over in the USA they talk openly about foster care and adoption but over here in the UK it’s not talked about at all. There is a stigma of “don’t talk about it” and when you do talk about it, no one knows how to react because it’s not seen as normal here. This needs to change, children in the system already feel separated from their families, they don’t need to feel segregated from society as well because of their upbringing – especially when they didn’t choose it.

The purpose isn’t to point fingers and put the blame on anyone, it’s to simply recognise that there are flaws in this system and these flaws directly affect a child’s ability to enter or leave the system. For example I have friends who should’ve been put into the foster care system but weren’t, why not?

The first video I did was called “no one listens” with the Ed Sheeran track behind it.  I feel like Ed Sheeran’s songs are really emotional and was the perfect platform for my first video.

The topic of the video was just one aspect of what I went through and had seen at school which was – neglect at home, lots of anger, lots of shouting and didn’t feel safe in my own home which I feel like a lot of children can relate to. I wanted to show different types of neglect through the video. We have the mum who completely ignores the child and focuses on the dad and baby only, the dad uses aggressive and hateful language towards the child- neglecting love and of course the school and police officers at the end are intentionally ignoring the child’s cry for help, as they say “I can’t go home”.

I feel like there is more than one way for a child to be neglected, abused, ignored etc and it’s important to shed light on these different ways so we can spot them either in our own relationships or at school or workplace so we can get people the help they need sooner, especially children.

You can see other videos in Scarlett’s journeys through foster care series on her YouTube channel, new ones will be added as they are made.

If you’re in care, leaving care, living away from home or working with children’s services, Help at Hand can offer you free support, advice and information.

Scarlett was featured in our Turning 25 series and you can also check out the other posts from our care experienced led projects series. If you’ve got a project you’d like to share, get in touch!