For this year’s Care Experienced History Month, the Story of Care ambassadors were inspired by the petition letters mothers wrote to have their child accepted to the Foundling Hospital, as well as letters they wrote to enquire after the welfare of their children once there.
They have written letters, poems and raps about their memory of their first week in care: who they saw, how they felt, the smells, what they had with them and how they turned it into a positive.
A poem by Wolfie Cross
This Isn’t Home
This isn’t home. I’m in the same town, in the same city,
within the same borough of familiarity, but this is not home.
The privacy is so deafening, I can finally hear myself think,
or at least hear
what it is that I think that I’m thinking.
I don’t know what I think, that I think, but of what I can hear I am certain.
A voice stands alone behind a spectre chorus,
their words ringing through the walls of this room,
of this building, of my skull.
“You are on your own now.”
This isn’t home. It doesn’t taste like home. It doesn’t smell like home. It doesn’t look like home. It doesn’t feel like home. It doesn’t sound like how home is supposed to sound. The air here tastes
of stale nothing yet stinks fresh of formaldehyde. Aesthetically clinical. I question how this makes me feel…
I poke earphones into my mind, roll over, and rest my eyes.
Yet still, fornenst this pacifying lullaby stands a voice alone, an echo in an empty room.
“You are on your own now.”
A letter by Louise Hughes
To a Younger Me
To a Younger Me,
A few years ago, I wrote you a letter saying how proud I was of you. How proud I was of all the things you have managed to achieve despite the traumatic and upsetting life we had lived. Today, I’m choosing to write to you to remember that first week we entered the system. To remember what it felt like to move hundreds of miles away from our primary care givers. To remember what it was like when our life got turned upside down.
We were seven years old. R was six and E was four; we were all incredibly young and naïve about the world and what life was going to throw at us. I remember parts of the day like yesterday, but considering it has been 20 years – gosh, that’s a long time – my memory is a little hazy.
A science test.
That’s what we were about to sit when we got called to the headteacher’s office; we hadn’t even been in our new school two months and now here I, we, were getting pulled into the office. One sister was doing PE? And the other one was in pre-school? As I say, my memory is hazy.
I remember there being strange people in the office alongside our father. I’ve since learnt that one of these strange people had been in our lives for a number of years but at the time, in our seven-year-old brain, I didn’t have a clue who she was. All I wanted to do was get back to my science test – even at seven, we were such a teacher’s pet!
One of the main things I remember about this day, the day that changed my life, was that we were told we were going on a holiday. A holiday. Sure, a sisterly holiday would be great, but I had never been apart from our parents for longer than an overnight… I’d never been on an overnight school trip!
We all bundled into the silver car with our single suitcase and began the long drive back down south that we had only completed a mere six weeks previously. I have a lapse in memory here – I see it as a depressing journey, however, having read our files – it was a joyous occasion. There was singing: apparently. There were games being played: so I’ve heard. There were sisters getting tired as we journeyed into the night.
Now, as we near the age of 27 (which we never thought we’d see), that day marks a day that changed our life. At the time, it turned our life upside down, but, having lived twenty years since then – my life wouldn’t be what it is today. As I said in my previous letter to you, I am incredibly proud of where you – I – have come in the past twenty years. I am incredibly proud of where R and E have come too.
That day in January 2003 was a scary day but without it, I would not have the successes I have now.
An Older You
A poem by Robyn Hughes
I remember being told we are moving
I was so confused at 6
I remember crying at night because I didn’t want to leave my friends
I remember going to school for a Christmas Fair
This was the last thing we did before moving
I remember coming into my new class
No one talked to me. Not even the teacher
One day, mum dropped off baby sis at nursery
I cried “mummy!” and burst into tears
Crying: I don’t want to be here. I have no friends
I remember mum giving me a hug and telling me : “it’s okay, you will be fine”
Remember I was six
I remember after PE
The teacher telling me to get changed
I was going to the head’s office
I remember seeing my sisters, parents, head and three people I didn’t know
I remember how little baby sis looked
I remember being told “you’re going on a long holiday. say goodbye”
I remember being put into the car
with my sisters and these people
that we didn’t know
Where are we going??
It felt like we drove for hours
I remember playing with Polly Pockets in the car
I remember waking my sisters up just because there was a spider by my bed
It had gone by the time they had come down
I remember sleeping on the edge of the bed. I was so scared
But I remember
I’m alone in the universe
A rap by Jake
Jake has written a rap to convey the experience of his first week in care. Video below.