THE NEXT #CARECONVOS IS MONDAY 2ND MAR 2020, 8PM AND THE TOPIC IS… *DISCLOSURE*
#CareConvos are delighted that Chloe Juliette will be hosting the March conversations. We are working together to produce what will be a very interesting evening. Chloe will be discussing #Disclosure – discussing how being care experienced affects employment and what benefits/downsides there are to disclosure (see more about Chloe further down the page). All welcome.
Care Experienced people often feel awkward about sharing their past experiences and particularly in a NURSING/social work setting.
Jacqui Gold talks about how for her disclosure was a matter of life or death:
I would imagine, there are a lot of older Care Leavers who had to hide their Care Experience to survive. In 1968 I knew I couldn’t tell anybody I had been in care if I wanted to do Nursing. Secure school and then Mental Hospital. I applied to do the basic State Enrolled training but on interview the Tutor gave me the General Nursing Test to do. Passed highly and was asked if I would consider doing 3-year State egistered Nursing. I was delighted and said yes. References could have been a problem as I had walked out of a Mental Hospital on section after 18 traumatic months, but the factory and my landlady covered those. No police record checks then. I managed to cope, although no support. My two best friends only knew I had a breakdown because this also happened to one of them whilst training. Years later when married with young children I told one of them about approved school. She’s still my friend along with her twin sister. Having no support or knowledge of how to live on my own, budget, socialise with ‘normal people’ was stressful and I was on my guard all the time. I was desperate to keep my rent paid and often went without food and fags walking three miles to work. I worked hard, succeeded, qualified and went on to do postgraduate Mental Health Nursing as well.
However whilst searching for answers, I got a copy of my Social Work records in 2008 and the last page is a letter from my Social Worker, who I hadn’t seen since 1966. It was addressed to the Headmistress of the secure school saying she was trying to find out where I was and whether I was still on license. This was in 1970. My dear Headmistress told her I was doing well working and studying, she still had contact with me and suggested the Social Worker got in touch with the Mental Hospital for information. The Headmistress said she was unable to give my details to the SW. I was horrified, and if the SW had found out where I was working and tried to contact me via work I would have been sacked from Nursing. That would, I know for definite, meant being on the streets and probably suicide. In 1982 a policeman friend checked the police computer and my offence was still on computer even though technically it had been ‘spent’ and he couldn’t remove it. I eventually had it removed in 2017 by a somebody who was helping me to find my missing brother.
In the late 50’s you were programmed to think that you were a naughty girl once you went into care homes and your life usually was geared to menial work, cleaning, laundry not education. A lot of friends from the secure school never got far but a couple did go to college.
I feel that everybody needs a point of contact when leaving care. They may be adamant that they don’t want anything to do with Social Work or Mental Health Teams but still need a phone number. This may be difficult as some may see this as invading their personal space. Encouragement and somebody to talk to who understood me has been great.
One abiding memory of kindness was when I had surgery for emergency Appendicitis as a second-year student nurse. Totally alone and terrified in hospital my friends Mother came to visit me bringing Ribena and chocolates and a card. I cried and she didn’t understand why I did. She reassured me and said my friends had told her that I had no useful family, so she thought it was sad and came to see me. She was a lovely lady and always included me when the girls were invited out.
FOLLOW Jacqui ON TWITTER: @sanferryann2
In The Brightness of Stars (2013) part memoir and part collection of stories by care experienced adults, written and put together respectively by Lisa Cherry, she writes:
I’m working as a residential social worker. It’s the early 1990s and I’m studying for a degree and supporting myself by being back in the very places I couldn’t wait to leave: children’s homes.
We have a new boy coming this morning and he’s just arrived. He looks very apprehensive; he appears a little scared and he is clutching his suitcase as if it were a shield that will protect him from whatever is going to happen next. Children in care only ever seem to arrive with one bag, two at the most. I always wondered where all their things were. Mine were in my gran’s loft for years.
As I look at his face I am instantly catapulted back to the very situation I had been in. I’m in the social worker’s care, just like he is. I have no idea what to expect, what awaits me or even where I am going. My eyes well up as I look at him and then I quickly push down this unexpected surge of emotion and remember I am not that child.
I am an adult now and I make the decision there and then to never look at a young person or child in care as in any way connected to me and my experience. I need to be strong, to try and forget about it. Besides, I don’t really want anyone that I work with to know that I too had a life before this day, that I too have been a child in care, sitting in the car waiting to go to the next home.
Follow Lisa Cherry on twitter: @_LisaCherry
Care-Experienced Researcher AND Artist , CHLOE JULIETTE, London
“I grew up in the care system, just about made it through Uni and onto running a community arts business for a few years. Whilst I was doing that I did some ‘expert by experience’ work and off the back of it, decided to try and improve how service providers engage with the people who use their services. Now I work in research, specialising in engagement, and spend my time trying to reintroduce some humanity into service design and delivery. I’ve gotten so much out of talking to people via #CareConvos and am so excited to be co-hosting in March. I’m really interested in having conversations with everyone in a care experience privileged space.”