Minister for Children and Families
This week I took three young people who have been through the care system to see Tim Loughton, Minister for Children and Families, at the Department of Education in London. He had agreed to meet us following an interview we did with him as part of the ‘Handle With Care’ project back in May.
One of our young people had spent 6 months on the street age 16 in church grounds, sheds and a tent, before getting a room at The Foyer in Slough. Next week she will begin a degree in Theology at Kings College, University of London. An amazing story of achievement. The young people talked on the journey about how to describe their backgrounds on CVs and university applications and she thought ‘living independently’ was the best way. I don’t think it describes the half of it.
We got off at Westminster Underground station and walked past Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey to the Department of Education. The Minister was very welcoming and keen to promote the interests of children in care. He said it was shocking that only 7% of looked after children went to university and was definite it must change. He answered the group’s questions thoroughly and seemed to be taking a lot of new initiatives through. The group were all satisfied with his answers and impressed by how much was happening, though maybe too polite to say how exactly will we know that things have changed for the better and by what date?
We presented him with three of the poems from our ‘Handle With Care’ project framed for his office and Andrew Peach, who was with us from BBC Radio Berkshire, read him one of these by a group from the Berkshire Children in Care Councils. This seems to represent the emotion of children in care well and, we felt, to leave him with a message about the need for action as well as words:
We love being together with friends
We love freedom of speech
And sunshine and social workers
Who are punctual and people who know how to listen
We hate broken promises.