IMO exists to celebrate the achievements of teens in care and care leavers, and to share your stories, experiences and advice with others in a similar situation. We want to challenge perceptions about the care system, and raise the aspirations and ambitions of people with care experience.

We recently asked teens in care and care leavers from across the country to write a postcard to their future selves – ‘Dear future me’, about where they’d like to be and what they hope to be doing in ten years’ time. Over 100 children in care councils, care leaver groups, children’s homes and other organisations working directly with teens in care and care leavers took part, and we were blown away by the number of responses we received. To celebrate Care Day 2020, and the start of a new decade, we’re sharing a small selection of the responses we received from all over the country.

What struck us most from reading these postcards is how ambitious, thoughtful, insightful and resilient young people with care experience are. They wrote openly about the stability they hope to have in the future; aspiring to be financially independent, own their own homes, and be in loving, stable relationships. Having children, and keeping them safe and providing the best for them, was a common theme running throughout the responses. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, ambitious career aspirations were dominated by a desire to work with and support children, as foster carers, social workers, teachers, and doctors. Many of the responses prioritised self-care, wellbeing, and looking after themselves and others around them, and they all had one thing in common – an unwavering sense of positivity, resilience, and hope for the future.

Dear future me…

“Breathe, work hard, love yourself, respect yourself.”

“Did you finish university? Did you build healthy relationships? Did you find your self-worth? And most importantly, are you happy?”

“Remember that change can be a good thing and that life isn’t as scary as you think it is. You’ve finished university now and I hope you are following the path you started for yourself in helping those around you to learn to love themselves and others. Keep doing it!”

“I hope you have become comfortable with yourself and are now in a position to help others, knowing that helping others can be through actions, teaching, or just making a stranger smile. I hope you have stayed ambitious to inspire others in your position but are fundamentally happy and hopeful for years to come. Keep loving and living!”

“I hope to be making music full-time, be in a good place financially and, most importantly, be meeting new people and creating memories.”

“Take it day by day.”

“Don’t stress, life gets better. You’re 24 now, hopefully living life. I hope you are alive. Also, if you have kids, don’t be too strict. Have therapy! Don’t stress about looks, finance, anything. Go to uni, get a job! Stay in touch with people.”

“Hope you are doing well and living the life you want! make sure you only do what you want to and don’t let anyone else change your opinion of yourself.”

“I’d like to help children from ages 1-18”.

[I’d like to be] “a designer, hair stylist, foster carer or work with kids.”

[I’d like to be] “a rockstar, a teacher, or work with homeless people.”

More inspirational messages from children in care and care leavers

“I am just about to start university. I am kind of nervous but also very excited. I hope everything goes OK!”

“In 10 years’ time, I might understand the world of adulthood a little more. I hope for a good life, a good job, a lovely house and a couple of dogs!”

“In 10 years I see myself just finishing university and being ready to get a job and settle down. I will have a husband and most likely a child, living in a nice house and driving a nice car.”

“I hope to be married with children. I hope to have finished university and be starting a new job as a primary school teacher or a social worker.”

“In 10 years’ time, I would like to have good GCSE grades and have my driving license. I would love to be starting my dream job as a foster carer or vet.”

“Remember to take life one step at a time and not to rush into decisions.”