Care leavers’ story

About the project

The Care Leavers’ Stories Project is a unique initiative: it enabled care experienced people to record their life stories on digital video.

The interviewees tell in their own words what it is really like to grow up in children’s homes and foster care and then make their way in the world.  The stories are between 25 minutes to 3 hours long and cover the interviewee’s whole life with a focus on their care experience. Care leavers have incredible lives and their voices are often not heard. By looking back we can understand how the system has changed over time. We can also learn valuable lessons for current practice.

As the interviews were conducted by specially trained young people, who have also been through the care system, the stories are especially honest and compelling. The oldest person interviewed was in her 90s and spent time in a workhouse, the youngest was 21 and described a range of placements in care homes and foster care.

The stories have been preserved in the British Library for hundreds of years to come.

The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery fund and developed in partnership with the British Library.

On this website you can view

  • Two short documentary videos which summarise main messages and themes from all the stories
  • A making of video which describes how the project was developed
  • 3 one minute extracts from the interviews
  • Watch a half hour extract from each story
  • Watch the whole story
  • Read a summary of each story
  • Read a full transcript of each story

How the project worked

The project was managed by an advisory group which consisted of care experienced people, social workers, academics, representatives of care leavers’ organisations, representatives of care leavers’ organisations, British library oral history experts and social work educators.

The project received ethical permission from the Social Care Research Ethics Committee. It used an oral history approach to collect the stories, and trained a group of young care leavers in oral history interviewing and how to work with video.

The advisory group and the interviewers developed a topic guide to guide the interviews. The interviewers with the help of a small film crew recorded the stories at SCIE’s offices in central London. Each interviewee was supported to tell their own story in their own words. 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. Find out more by watching the making of film.

Advisory Group members

Pete Fleischmann: SCIE Head of Co-production (Chair)

Mary Stewart: Curator of Oral History, British Library.

Rob Perks: Lead Curator of Oral History, British Library.

Matt Langsford: Care leaver

Zachari Duncalf: Research Fellow Strathclyde University

Mike Stein: Research Professor, University of York

Victoria Hull: Who Cares Trust

Cyra Mutesi-Kirenho: Care leaver

Nora Duckett: Senior Lecturer in Social Work, London Metropolitan University

David Graham: Care Leavers’ Association

Maxine Wrigley: A National Voice

Wendy Banks: VOICE policy lead

Brian Fury: Care leaver

Brian Douieb: Recently retired Head of Leaving care team, Hounslow Sarah JoslinCare Leaver

Interviewers

Khatija Hafesji

Tamisan Joe

Camelia Borg

Rahma Mohammed

Film-makers

Sybil Ah Mane (Flexible Films)

Russ Hall (Flexible Films)

SCIE Project Management

Pete Fleischmann: Senior Responsible Officer

Mary Sainsbury/Marie Diggins: Project Manager

Jane Greenstock: Project Support Officer