Hello, #careexperienced community! I'm Jamie. It amazing to connect with you here on our journey towards @careexpconf
I'm care experienced. I was placed in foster care at one week old. There were aspects of my care experienced that were positive. These included being placed with one foster family throughout my life alongside one of my siblings, and the relationships I developed with members of my foster family that continue today. There were aspects of my care experience with which I struggle. My birth mother had experienced significant developmental and systemic trauma that impacted her mental health. She was poorly supported by social and mental health services experiencing prejudice and stigma when what she needed was genuine relationships and love. Furthermore, social services failed to support my mother, my siblings and I in developing and maintaining kinship relationships. I deeply regret this as I never had the opportunity to meet her or my brother.
I learnt about the Care Experienced Conference having met Ian Dickson and other members of the organising team through Twitter. I'm inspired by the grassroots energy in challenging the system that leaves the voices of care experienced people out in decision making, and the aims of the conference to ensure care experienced people of all ages are forefront participants in a full review of the care system.
From the start of my career I have worked in roles that have focused upon enabling growth, change, and self-empowerment for individuals and communities. I studied theatre in educational, community or therapeutic contexts. This led me to work in schools and community settings supporting young people experiencing social and emotional challenges. I worked in higher education as a lecturer/tutor in applied theatre and subsequently in disability support which led me to train as an counsellor. In my training and personal therapy, I was supported to speak about my care experience for the first time recognising my lived experience and empathy enabled me to support others who have experienced trauma. I've previously worked as a counsellor for my local Mind, a University, a GP Medical Practice Counselling Service and the charity Crisis offering free and low-cost counselling and groups to individuals who would otherwise struggle to access NHS mental health services. A couple of years ago I co-edited a book called Study Skills for Students with Dyslexia (Support for Specific Learning Differences).
As well as working as a counsellor in my private practice I am writing my MA Psychotherapy thesis on the experience of foster care, and it's implications for counselling and psychotherapy. I am part of the Aashna Counselling and Psychotherapy team organising training considering issues of diversity in therapeutic practice. In time I hope to create a space for a local care experienced group and raise awareness of care experience in the counselling and psychotherapy community. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my partner and cat, reading, theatre, yoga, cooking and growing veggies.
It's been a real privilege to work alongside the brilliant and inspiring Care Experienced Conference team. I'm looking forward to meeting you on our journey for change at the Care Experienced Conference.