SCIE press release

SCIE’s care leavers’ project launched

24 October 2013

Young care leavers have been interviewing their older counterparts to find out what common issues are still important to all care leavers. The project, run by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and partners, will see many hours of film being stored in the British Library for generations to come. Lessons can be learnt for future good practice. The films also show how people have gone on to have successful careers and interesting lives.

The project is launched today in Westminster; the Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson MP will be making a speech supporting the initiative. The event is also a chance for Barnardo’s to report back on the success of the Care Leavers’ Charter. The Charter’s pledges to care leavers are: “To respect and honour your identity; to believe in you; to listen to you; to inform you; to support you; to find you a home; to be a lifelong champion”. Each pledge is accompanied by further detail on how local authorities will fulfil them.

Interviewers for the care leavers’ project were given full training by SCIE and the British Library. Ethical issues were addressed, including robust procedures on consent forms. There are full life stories being stored and there are also three short films, which summarise the interviews.

SCIE’s Chair Lord Michael Bichard says:

“During their journeys through the system, care leavers accumulate records mostly written by other people. This project has given care leavers the chance to tell their own story in their own words, unedited and not structured by anyone else. What’s more, the person they tell their story to has an instinctive understanding of what they are being told as they too have been in care. I urge anyone who works with looked after children or care leavers to view these life stories. They are a unique and profoundly moving learning experience”.

Camelia Borg, one of the interviewers, who herself has been in care, says:

“This project has been so important because it’s a great way of gaining views and experiences from so many different care-experienced people. Importantly for me, we, the interviewers were very heavily involved with the editing of the films and the documentaries; it’s important to have had our input not just as care leavers, but also as interviewers who understand and emphasise with the people we were interviewing”.

Rob Perks, who is Lead Curator of Oral History at the British Library, says:

“We’ve been keen, over recent years, to hold people’s voices who haven’t been heard in the archive, so when SCIE approached us and said they were applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund, we were keen to be involved; as the holder of the archive; and with training. There is a rich depth to the interviews. And once an interview’s on the British Library catalogue, anyone can word-search the content and go immediately to that part of the interview they’re interested in.”

About the project

See the films here

The project trained a group of young care leavers in oral history interviewing and how to work with video. Then, with the help of a small film crew, they recorded the stories. Each interviewee was supported to tell their own story in their own words. The oldest person interviewed was in her 90s and grew up in a workhouse; the youngest was 21 and described a range of placements in care homes and foster care. The life stories are especially honest and compelling because of the mutual trust and understanding that was quickly established between the interviewee and the interviewer.

Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund

Media contact

Steve Palmer, Press and Public Affairs Manager, Social Care Institute for Excellence.
Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email: steve.palmer@scie.org.uk