This Is Me – Care Leavers, Identity & Sense of Place

We all have a place that’s close to our hearts. Let us show you ours.

UPDATE: You can now find all the portraits and accompanying soundtracks on Flickr and Soundcloud. Enjoy!

The exhibition opens at the Waterloo Action Arts Centre on Monday 11th September, running for one week only.

A group of young care leavers from London have directed their own self-portraits, which will be displayed with accompanying monologues. In a startling and humbling celebration of diverse voices, each individual explores why their chosen place is meaningful to them and how it relates to or shapes their sense of identity.

Audio: Zach talks about what it takes for a young person to revisit places that might bear painful memories.

‘I think of society as a library, and people are all books. What happens if nobody reads the books?’ – This is Me participant

Care leavers face a number of hurdles when transitioning into adulthood and independence. A third of people sleeping on the streets come from a care background. About 40% of young care leavers are NEET and half of them are dealing with mental health issues. This unique project invites you to discover the people behind the statistics, their stories and take on reality.

A member of staff from Drive Forward Foundation will be on hand every day to welcome visitors and answer any questions you may have.

When: 11-17 September, 11-7pm daily, Monday-Saturday

Where: Waterloo Action Arts Centre, 14 Baylis Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 7AA

Help us spread the word on social media and put up our This Is Me poster in your office and local cafe!

Audio: Shaun reminds us that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, but of personal strength.

Events programme:

Wednesday 13th September, 1pm – 2pm Allan Jenkins presenting his new book Plot 29

Allan Jenkins is editor of Observer Food Monthly. He was previously editor of the Observer Magazine, food and drink editor on the Independent newspaper and once lived in an experimental eco-community on Anglesey, growing organic food on the edge of the Irish sea.

His new memoir Plot 29 (published by Harper Collins), tells the story of Allan and his brother Christopher, young boys in 1960s Plymouth who were rescued from their care home and fostered by an elderly couple. There, the brothers started to grow flowers in their riverside cottage. Over the course of a year, Allan digs deeper into his past, seeking to learn more about his absent parents. Examining the truths and untruths that he’d been told, he discovers the secrets to why the two boys were in care. What emerges is a vivid portrait of the violence and neglect that lay at the heart of his family.

Allan will be reading from Plot 29 and there will be a Q&A.

Thursday 14th September, 6pm – 7pm Q&A with This Is Me participants and panel discussion with filmmaker Rebecca Southworth

Drive Forward Foundation will host some of the young people who have generously shared their stories for This is Me, for a live Q&A open to the general public. Filmmaker Rebecca, 23, recently made a BBC Three programme about the struggles faced by other care leavers. Kicked out: From Care to Chaos aired in April 2017.

Saturday 16th September, 6pm – 7pm Music Genre & Song Writing with Zachariah Stouchbury-White

Music artist, producer, youth mentor and care leaver Zach (stage name Attrayu) will lead a creative session exploring different approaches to song writing across the genres of Hip Hop, Grime, Reggae and RnB. Participants will be invited to explore what defines these different styles, in a collaborative and friendly workshop. They will also be able to apply this thinking in a practical song writing exercise.

Audio: Listen to Travon’s story about the relative freedom of street homelessness, after leaving a domestic setting he describes as a ‘prison’.

Please note that the last entry to the exhibition is on Sunday 17th September 11am.

Underground: Waterloo, Southwark, Lambeth North