Ashley Cameron, 26, a Stirling Labour activist and currently a 4th year Honours student at the University of Stirling, says care experienced young people are standing up, fighting back, and winning.
In high school, I recall being thrown against the brick wall of the bike sheds and punched in the face. I remember being taunted in classes every single day. And my crime? I lived in a kids’ home.
Today, I’m a campaigner who champions the rights of care experienced young people in Scotland. I’ve even been given awards for the work I do, something I just never imagined would be possible because of my past.
Why is it that just because we grew up in care means we are worth less than any other person?
Let’s face it, care experienced young people in Scotland have been failed time and time again. While the Children and Young People Scotland Act will go some way to providing more choice and extended support to these young people, it’s simply nowhere near enough.
In 2017 Scotland, young people from a care background like me are still 20 times more likely to see the inside of a prison than a classroom. In fact, up to 50% of Scotland’s current prison population have had experience of care at some point in their lives.
People are three times more likely to donate money to an animal shelter than to a children’s home.
This is not new information. The statistics haven’t really changed in the last couple of years, never mind the last 20 years. But where is the outrage?
The sad truth is there is none. That’s why we care experienced young people are taking our futures into our own hands. For the last four years care experienced young people across Scotland have been proudly, if nervously at first, standing up and claiming their care identity. We are fed up of being misrepresented in the media and in statistics relating to homelessness, imprisonment and mental health issues. We’re fighting back with a movement based on care, love and listening.
Slowly, but surely, we are winning that fight.
Just three short years ago, we were successful in achieving new rights for other care experienced young people in Scotland through the Children and Young People Scotland Act. And now with Fiona Duncan in the lead we’re going to change the way Scotland cares for its most vulnerable children and young people. It’s time to be bold. It’s time to change this culture of blaming us, when we find ourselves in care through no fault of our own.
We’re not just changing hearts and minds, we are creating fundamental and lasting change. We, the care experienced, invite you to join us, to open your hearts and minds to the realities of our lives. We want you to spread a message of hope and love to future generations of care experienced young people in Scotland. It’s too late for me, but it’s not for the more than 15,000 in care right now.
I care about the future of care experienced young people in Scotland. Do you?
Want to find out more about the care revolution? Watch Laura Beveridge’s Ted X talk.
Want to find out what it’s like to grow up in care? Watch the STV documentary Who Cares?