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The stories of young people in care and from care are not heard as often as they should be.
At Coram, however, we take a child-centred approach. We believe that the children and young people we work with are experts on their own experience.
What they tell us is at the heart of everything we do.
Listening to their stories helps us in our mission to develop, deliver and promote best practice in the care of children and young people, and to build resilience so that they can take responsibility for their lives and fulfil their potential.
Young people and former foundlings
The Twisted project is about bringing together young people who have experienced the care system and older people who were in the care of the Foundling Hospital some 60 years ago.
Together, they compare and contrast stories, giving an insight into the challenges that they faced then and now.
The young people were encouraged to create an improvised play based upon the life and struggles of a young adult in care. This was inspired by the fictional foundling Oliver Twist, who was created by Charles Dickens following visits to the Foundling Hospital.
The performance of the play was a way for the young people to express themselves and to tell their stories to an audience that listened intently. It gave them a voice to be heard.
I was able to relate myself and also contrast how it was different now to how it was then. – Shavoy, young person involved in Twisted
You can discover the stories of former foundlings in Foundling Voices, an oral history project comprising oral history interviews with 74 former Foundling pupils, plus one teacher, the children and partners of the Foundling pupils and townspeople from Berkhamsted who could remember the school.
Young writers’ voices
Voices is our annual national writing competition for care experienced children and young people.
The theme for this year’s competition is Who or What Makes You Proud. Entrants can write about anthing that makes them feel proud in whatever written form that works best for them.
Now in its third year, the annual Voices competition is designed to be a platform for the voices of children in and around the care system. It promotes a positive image of care-experienced children and young people by showcasing their creativity and improving understanding of their stories.
In 2017, the theme for the competition was New Beginnings. The winners were announced at an awards ceremony hosted by actor and former Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi.
You can read all the shortlisted entries on Creative Voices, a new free app featuring an anthology of writing by children in care.
Or you can browse New Beginnings, a collection of writings from Voices 2017 available from CoramBAAF.
But with these people helping me through my life, I can do it and I will eventually become stronger and no longer crying my way to sleep every night. My soul had been torn apart, but now it has been sewn back together. – Steven, winner of Voices 2016
Every day, Coram Voice works with children in care and care leavers. They inspire and motivate with their resilience, their maturity but most of all with their extraordinary voices and stories.
Voices competition was launched in 2016 to mark Coram Voice’s 40th anniversary and in honour of its founder, Gwen James, who died in 2015.
Happy ever after
When a vulnerable child is adopted, it can change the course of their life story, making happy ever afters possible.
At Coram, we are committed to finding vulnerable children loving and supportive homes where they will feel happy and loved.
In 2016, the Department for Education selected a drawing by a child adopted through Coram as its official Christmas card. The design by three-year-old Hayley, depicts her with her adoptive family, complete with a glittery Christmas tree and snowman.
Hayley and her family were thrilled that her card was chosen.
The following message printed on each card reads:
Hayley is three years old and was adopted through the voluntary adoption agency Coram in 2013. Hayley likes arts and crafts and singing songs, and lives with her mum and dad in South London. More information can be found here – www.coramadoption.org.uk
The Adoptables Schools’ Toolkit
The Adoptables Schools’ Toolkit is a collection of short films featuring the experiences of adopted young people in school.
It explores some of the issues that young people find challenging, such as friendships, relationships, family, certain lesson topics, and also what they would like teachers to know.
The Schools’ Toolkit is designed to be used in schools to improve how adopted children and young people experience school. It has been co-produced by The Adoptables, a peer network of young adopted people, alongside specialist educators Coram Life Education, and in consultation with teachers.