What is S31 Stories?
Section 31 Stories (S31 Stories) is all about getting care experienced voices heard. This is not any way tokenistic. These stories will be gathered and shared with foster carers, social workers, other relevant professionals and also with children who need to know they are not alone. The goal is to inspire and create a deeper level of understanding. Care leavers have been hugely misunderstood and a somewhat invisible minority for far too long. It is important that these voices are heard and that change is made because of them. If you have care experience, you can share a simple message, a quote, life story, or an experience openly or anonymously on this platform. Section 31 Training is ultimately a provider of training, so if you have a topic you are really passionate about we can support you to create your own online course and of course you will receive a fair commission on those courses when they are booked. S31 stories is also about promoting you as a person and so we can promote any work or projects you have going on if you want us to.
Why is it important to share your story?
Although the care system can attract some unsavoury folk, the reality is that this is a huge and very complex care system and the majority of people working within that system have a good heart and do care. However the level of understanding we see is often very low. This lack of understanding leads to poor decisions, poor responses and further trauma. Even with a heart of gold and the best will in the world people can cause harm unintentionally, simply through not understanding how we feel and how it is in our shoes. When we are children we can’t articulate what we feel into words adults can understand. As we walk our path in care we carry huge burdens on our shoulders which can be hard for even us to understand.
Often these complicated and confusing feelings come out in our behaviours and sadly the adults caring for us and trying to support us can find it very difficult to look beyond those behaviours, they often miss they real message beneath that façade. We can’t tell children to just calm down and to always speak clearly, we can’t tell them not to be angry or upset, we can’t stop them expressing themselves, nor should we. What we can do though is help carers and social workers by given them understanding. Sharing our stories helps them see past the behaviours that they are presented with, it helps them see that it is not personal. Many children grow up in this system silenced by their own trauma, they want to say “don’t’ leave me” but what comes out is often something like “f*** off I hate you”. It is hard for carers to understand that although that child is pushing them away, all they want is for that person to stay… forever.
By the time these children transition into adulthood and start to understand themselves and get to a place where they can articulate what they feel they have left the system and everything they have ever learned seems lost. It is of paramount importance that care leavers share what they have learned. If we don’t, how can anyone ever learn? How will anything ever change.
For too long this care system has been a conveyer belt where children and young people feel like Amazon packages, unpacked, rejected and sent back. We can attack the system or we can help it to be better. To change the system we must change how people think, we must support them.
What can I share?
Absolutely anything! Success stories inspire people, it will give them hope. But sharing the bad can also be a good thing because it will help carers understand what their children may be experiencing and it will help other young people see that they are not on their own. It doesn’t have to be a life story if you don’t want it to be. You can talk about just one thing if you wish or focus on a topic that is important to you.
Do I have to share my identity?
It is important for us to know who you are so that we know you are care experienced however if you want your story or your message to be shared anonymously just let us know. Nothing will be shared without your consent.
Can I get some support?
Of course! If you have something to share and you are not quite sure how to word it or how to present it just let us know and we will support you. There are many ways in which to get your voice heard, it doesn’t have to be in written words.