After the Listen Up research it was evident that much more research needed to be undertaken with care leavers of all ages. This research also showed that there were 100s of care leavers out there wanting to contribute and share their experiences. I decided to undertake a PhD exploring the autobiography, narrative and identity of adult care leavers across the life course. For this research I carried out oral history interviews, lasting between two and five hours each, with 25 adult care leavers ranging in age from 25 – 79. The purpose of this interview was to allow the participants to tell me everything and anything about their lives with very few guiding questions from myself. I then returned to each participant 6 months later after an analysis of the first interview to carry out a second interview with three focused questions and an (auto)biographical timeline of their lives.
Selection of (auto)biographical timelines from my PhD participants.
The questions for the second interview were:
1. In summary, how do you think you have viewed your time in care differently as you have got older?
2. In a few sentences, what effect do you think being in care has had on your adult life?
3. In your adult life what have been important turning points?
Key findings from the research focus on the:
• Long term impact of the events of going into care and of leaving care;
• Experience and impact of living in certain spaces and places and with daily regimes and routines;
• Experience and impact of abuse, trauma and self harm;
• Importance and loss of key relationships with family, staff and peers;
• Feelings of rejection and isolation after leaving care;
• Turning points in adulthood;
• Resilience and the struggle with mental health throughout adult life;
• Reflections on a childhood in care and how these reflections have changed and developed at different points throughout the life
• Experience and impact of stigma;
• Building of new friendships, families and relationships.
The PhD research is yet to be published but when it is there will be further details here. Watch this space!!!