‘Care Experience & Culture, a Digital Archive’ is the first of its kind and will feature care experienced literature, spoken word and academic material

Dr Dee Michell and Miss Rosie Canning are delighted to announce a new digital archive Care Experience & Culture. The website will launch 11th April – via Zoom, which will coincide with Care Experience History Month. Invitations to the launch will include an invitation for people to let us know their favourite care-experienced characters represented in foster care, adoption, kinship care or residential settings. ‘We’d like people to join in and advise us on care experienced literature, film, theatre, television, radio and academic material that can be included.’

Although there are occasional ‘success stories’ in the media about care-experienced people, in the main a single story is told about this group, ie, that they are over-represented in the prison, mental ill-health and homeless populations.

Children and young people in social care, and those who have left, are often subject to stigmatisation and discrimination. Being stigmatised and discriminated against can impact negatively on mental health and wellbeing not only during the care experience but often for many years after too.

The project aims to contribute towards changing community attitudes towards care-experienced people as a group. Instead of only being seen through the current single lens (that they are over-represented in the prison, mental ill-health and homeless populations), they will be seen as a creative group, despite (and/or because of) often experiencing hardship and trauma.

Rosie Canning (UK) and Dee Michell (Australia) are scholars with lived experience of care and a lifelong passion for books. They’ve experienced many benefits from reading as a pastime and are aware of the historical representations of care experience over time. Both are influenced by Lemn Sissay’s Origin Stories and Superman was a Foundling exhibition at The Foundling Museum in London. Rosie and Dee are collaborating to develop a Digital Archive, a one-stop accessible site with information about care-experienced characters in fiction and on-screen, as well as care-experienced writers, artists and actors.

For children and young people in care, and their carers, social workers, teachers, and so on, Care Experience & Culture will provide a significant source of material to which children and young people can be directed for characters they can relate to. As Ryan McCuaig who was in care has said, characters like Harry Potter are for those who’ve left care too. He was in his twenties when a conversation with another care-experienced person about Harry Potter made him realise that he “was already part of something bigger” whereas he’d often struggled with not fitting in.

There are many other care-experienced characters the sector may not be aware of but which will be found in the Digital Archive.

Care Experience & Culture will be a boon to educationalists and researchers too. Researchers could, for example, select characters other than Harry Potter and run research projects to find out how children and young people are affected by them. They can also analyse representations of care experience over time and in different fora.

Jamie Crabb, Psychotherapist and care-experienced, will advise on the design and maintenance of the website. Rosie and Dee, would like to thank the The Welland Trust, a charity founded by Jan Rees OBE in 2019, for the financial contribution they have made which has enabled Care Experience & Culture to be launched.  Sarah Saunders a Trustee from the Welland Trust said “we are proud to support the development of such a creative and exciting project that we believe will be of great benefit to many people”. Welland Trust supports projects and initiatives that benefit adults who have experienced care.

How to find us:
Email: careexperienceandculture@gmail.com
Twitter: @CareExp_Culture
Facebook: Care Experience & Culture
Website: 11th March preview and overview of what will be on offer