The IMO Podcast is a series of open and honest conversations with care leavers.
Young people raised in state care often face exclusion, marginalisation, and stigma. This series gives a voice to the diverse experiences that make up the care population.
Each episode we invite someone who has been in care to talk about anything they like. It’s an opportunity to hear the voices of people who often don’t get the chance to tell their stories in mainstream media, and it’s a chance to inspire and encourage others in similar situations. Some of the stories we hear in series one include what it’s like to be LGBT+ and in care, how children in care can be criminalised to manage their behaviour, what’s like to be HIV positive and in care, and what it’s like to be separated from your siblings growing up.
Series 1 trailer
Episode one – Ella
Ella talks to us about how she feels she was criminalised to manage her behaviour in children’s homes. She chats about bouncing back from results that don’t go your way and holding workers to account by turning up to LAC reviews with a copy of the legislation.
“I initially lived in a local authority-run home. I was there for 10 days. I was then kicked out; my behaviour wasn’t the best. I got charged with and convicted of two counts of assault and criminal damage. In real terms what that meant was I ripped up paper into little bits, because that’s always been a really calming thing for me, and I smashed a banana and rubbed it over a staff member’s face. […] Then I was taken into police custody, I was there for over 24 hours. I was 15 years old. […] I wasn’t aggressive, I was just really sad.”
Episode two – Ryan
Ryan tells us why he chose to read his care files and how it’s changed his perspective on being in care. We hear about his voluntary work in the LGBT community and he spills the beans on some of the celebrity interviews he’s done as a journalist.
“When I first asked for [my files], it was really difficult. […] I was in care for 15 years. That’s a huge chunk of my identity and I wanted to know. I think I underestimated it, I think I didn’t really consider how much personal stuff would be in them and, looking back, I wish I’d got more support in reading them when I first got them because it really hit me more I thought it would.”
Episode 3 – Nathaniel and Victoria
We met Nathanial and Victoria through an organisation called Siblings Together. Nathaniel and Victoria are not related but they both were separated from their brothers and sisters when being taken into care. They tell us what that separation feels like and give us an insight into contact arrangements.
“[Sibling contact is important because] it brings normality back into people’s lives. It means that they can grow together and, when they eventually leave care, they will have those connections there. [I still have difficulties] to this day. A few months ago I was given the wrong contact day. I arrived on the day to be told that it’s not that day, it is in fact tomorrow. It’s embarrassing, it’s frustrating, and it makes you angry and upset.” (Nathaniel)
Episode 4 – Rihanna
Rihanna tells us what it’s like to grow up with HIV in England. She tells us about the change in support when she turned 18 and we hear about the challenges and excitement of leaving foster care to go to university.
“Before I went to an adult clinic, they [foster carers] would go with me and we’d go on lunches and everything to make it more comfortable and then everyday they would remind me, if I forgot they were always there to remind me. […] In the beginning, after I left care, it was quite hard because it was like, oh god, there’s no one there to remind me.”
Episode 5 – Steven
Steven is a care leaver who is training to be a social worker. He tells us how growing up in care has shaped the kind of social worker he wants to be. We discuss how little time families are given to change when they are under social services assessment and reflect on the lack of aspiration on behalf of care leavers from those who are supposed to inspire them.
“I still think there’s a lack of aspiration given to the young people. The other day […] I saw this billboard of jobs for care leavers and it was like: KFC. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but why weren’t they saying stuff like university? You wouldn’t put that up in a school, […] so why is that in place for care leavers? It’s symbolic. […] Why can’t we aspire to do more than that?”