Hi, my name is Cat Hugman. I got involved with the Care-Experienced Conference by connecting with the group through social media. I am honoured and humbled to be able to play a part in making the conference happen and to provide an opportunity for people of all ages with experience of care to to come together. For years care-leavers have had very little voice and I believe, despite our varied life experiences, that coming together is a massive opportunity to develop our community and showcase the range of expertise and talents of each and every one of us. I hope the Care-Experienced Conference can positively effect change, whether that is about improving service provision, developing campaigns or leading to more research. What really excites me about the conference is how its developed from the grassroots- so often things have been done for us. This conference is different as it is led, developed and supported by people of all ages with care-experience and their allies.
I currently live in a very pretty town in Northumberland in a home I share with my two dogs and partner. I grew up in lots of different places in the UK and Zimbabwe as my dad’s job made sure we moved every three years- so I’m a bit nomadic. Life at home was never easy as my mum wasn’t very well, that all came to a head when I was a teenager and just couldn’t cope with the chaos everyday. For me ‘care’ wasn’t very caring and it was just a roof over my head, so I left foster care happily at 16, moved into supported lodgings for 18 months before moving into a wee council flat. I had severe mental health difficulties as a result of the trauma, and it took me years to get back to functioning well.
After doing access courses I managed to secure a place at a Northumbria University on their sociology programme, the ideas, theories and approaches transformed the way I saw the world. Thanks to very supportive tutors I went on to do my Masters in Social Research and then secured funding to do a PhD. This was such an opportunity and not something I’d ever really thought of pursing. Since then I’ve gone onto teach and research at Universities in the North East, and now I’m teaching on the social work programme at the University of Cumbria.
I’m not just a person with care–experienced, I’m also a roller skater, crafter, dog carer, passionate lecturer, researcher, social justice purser, comic book reader, adventurer and guitar player (OK that last one is debateable!).