Hard-hitting documentary on Coventry looked after youngsters reveals 'weaknesses in care system' - The Coventry Observer

18th Aug, 2022

Hard-hitting documentary on Coventry looked after youngsters reveals 'weaknesses in care system'

Editorial Correspondent 30th Nov, 2018 Updated: 30th Nov, 2018

A GROUP of Coventry’s looked after children starred in a Channel 4 documentary using poetry to talk about their experiences of the care system.

‘Superkids – Breaking Away from Care’, broadcast on Channel 4 at 10pm on Wednesday, featuring the stories of seven youngsters in care in the city.

It was widely praised as a powerful programme, which provided a platform for the too often ignored voices of those in care.

The group worked with award-winning writer and performer Lemn Sissay MBE in a series of emotional workshops.

They explored feelings about being in care, shared difficult memories and wrote poems to express them more easily.

It culminated in a performance of their work at the Belgrade Theatre.

In the documentary, one girl’s poem read: “I remember social turning up and taking my brother and not letting me and my sister say bye.

“I remember being told my mum died. I remember being told it was an overdose.

“I remember being a broken 10-year-old. I remember the funeral.

“I remember picking myself up. I remember missing my mum.

“I remember social promising contact with my dad. That never happened.

“I remember being 12 and being told my dad had died.”

Mr Sissay spent his first 18 years living between foster families, children’s homes and assessment centres.

Since then he has come to terms with his trauma by telling his story around the world.

Mr Sissay said: “Their stories are extraordinary. They are extraordinary people. I am proud that Coventry council allowed their incredible young people to be seen for what they are: Superkids.

“They are all on the edge, on the edge of the care system.

“They will be breaking away soon and I really believe that after watching the nation will care for them.

“It is extremely rare to get insights into the experience of young people before they leave care. That makes this unique.”

Director of children’s services John Gregg said: “The prospect of giving our young people such a unique opportunity to let their feelings be heard by a national audience was valuable.

“This is a hard-hitting film and some of the messages for all of us are difficult to hear but it is vital that we do hear them.

“While this documentary focuses on Coventry, it could be any local authority and unless we as a country are serious about giving a voice and listening to our young people in care then we will never be able to improve the system that defines their lives.”

Creative director for Expectation Colin Barr said: “Watching the young people in Coventry’s care system learn from Lemn and teach him in return was an utter privilege.

“Their writing and performing was both inspiring and uplifting, but it didn’t shy away from confronting the weaknesses in the care system.”

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