SCIE opinion - 26 February 2013

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Photograph of Matt Langsford

Help make history - Care leavers – SCIE needs your stories

Twenty-one year old Matt Langsford is a care leaver and here he explains why he’s involved in a project interviewing other people who’ve experienced the care system.

You could say that I’m a veteran of the care system; over ten years in care, which included 20 foster placements and two periods of homelessness. So I know that it’s important to capture the voices of children and young people in care. For everyone who works in the area, listening to these voices should be at the top of their agenda.

So, given that people’s voices are important, I’m really glad to be involved with a SCIE project that will keep those voices accessible, forever! The Care Leavers’ Stories Project will record 25 life story video interviews which will be stored in the British Library. For me, this is vital, because it provides the opposite of what happened to me; I have had a few good times and have some positive memories of the system, but unfortunately the majority of the time I experienced all sorts of issues, mainly stemming from the fact that I wasn’t listened to.

I want that to change. The project has trained four care experienced young people who will conduct life story interviews with other care-experienced people. We want to hear from people aged 21 to 99. The only other proviso is that they have to have a strong London connection. The interviews will be safe, supportive and empowering. So, sign up if you’re care-experienced and you have a story to tell.

I know I have the skills to help this project; I’ve been involved with my local Children in Care Council. I’ve also been a LILAC Assessor (Leading Improvements for Looked-After Children) and have worked directly with over 700 looked-after children and young people across the country. I’ve also worked with care staff from top to bottom of the hierarchy. I can be at the heart of developing the project from a care-experienced perspective. SCIE tell me this is called Co-Production. (See a video of a Co-Production event).

The project has an advisory group, which have been listening to my opinions and those of the other care experienced young people on the group, along with relevant professionals. They’ve then taken them on board, taking action where necessary. SCIE have ensured that the voice of children and young people have been fully listened to, and considered, when developing the project.

If our voices aren't listened to - and taken into account when making decisions - the needs of these children and young people can't, and won't, be met appropriately, leading to many issues for them in the future, like the ones I faced.

If you would like to take part in this important and valuable project please contact Jane Greenstock 020 7766 7378 or  for more information.

See a video about Matt’s involvement in the Brick by Brick project.

Relevant SCIE resources

Social Care Online

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