UNICEF Child Right’s Partners: Sam talks about his experience of independence after leaving care

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In the first Child Rights Partners blog written by a young person, we’ve shared a short film about Sam. Sam is a 21 year old from Leeds who grew up in care. Sam got involved in this film project through his Care Leavers’ social group because he wanted to raise awareness of the difficulties young people in care and leaving care experience.

Sam told us how important this film is for him, and said that it’s “not just because it’s my life being portrayed but more because of the fact that it shows some of the issues and difficulties that young people both care leavers and in care face on a daily basis. The message needs to get out there that there needs to be more support in these areas.”

Indeed, care experienced young people often face serious challenges when transitioning to independence. In Leeds, Unicef UK is working with the council using a child rights-based approach to improve the experience of young people who are preparing to or leaving care. There is a particular focus on pathway planning, which is the process used to support young people in care to move to independence and ensure they have the support needed to do that.

Sam was in and out of foster care most of his life and left the care system at the age of 16, even though he said he “wasn’t fully prepared for the world”. He talks about the importance of children’s rights. “The children’s rights work is an important thing because if children don’t know what rights they have, and they don’t find a way of getting their views across, how can they be represented?” he said. “Having your views being taken into account makes a huge difference, because we actually have a voice. Otherwise things are done without us, without getting our feedback about what we think, and then the system would be even worse. But children’s rights is improving the system.”

Sam made the film to raise awareness of issues that people don’t know much about. “I hope with this film people realise that it’s not a bad thing to have issues and that they should look for support as much as possible”, he said.

Today, Sam has a very busy life, including working as a Civilian Instructor at the Royal Air Force Air Cadets. He’s also on the Leeds Care Leavers’ Council because he feels this is something where he can make a difference. “It’s important for someone like me to give their opinion,” Sam said, “instead of hiding away and being shy about it.”

The video, SAM, was created by Access Moving Image, a film production company based in the north of England.

Read more blogs about Child Rights Partners and join the conversation on Twitter at #childrightspartners. Follow Leeds’ work with and for children @Child_Leeds

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