Hi, I’m P Yusuf (McCormack). I 'lived' the ‘care system’ from birth to aged 18, during the 60’s & 70’s, in religious institutions, where ‘care’ didn’t seem to be a feature for children like me! Discipline, violence & abuse being the order of the day!Ironically, this type of childhood shaped me and equipped me with certain ‘life skills’, (unintentional & certainly not part of their plan!) allowing me to have a crack at life. I was encouraged to leave or as I saw it, politely shown the door in 1980!

So, what have I been up to since I left the system? Well, busy! I worked in the civil service for various departments and positions until 2015 when I ‘risked’ the opportunity to leave and embark on something different and closer to my heart. I’m now described as an ‘artist’ (I write and paint) other people’s labels for me. I just enjoy what I do and hope that it allows others a view or insight into the experiences I and others faced and lived with as children.....warts and all!

I've been busy as a dad, enjoying or making it up as I go along raising 5 children. Since 2013 we have been caring for children who become part of our family through fostering. It has been this current experience coupled with my ‘artistic’ work that has led me to become involved with the Care-Experienced Conference.

As a child of the ‘state’, I am acutely aware that my voice was never heard. 'I am the expert on me' as others are experts too, yet these ‘experts’ experiences very rarely get aired or heard, let alone acted upon or given the opportunity to influence changes that may contribute positively for those who are labeled ‘looked after children!

“We are not only the 'negative' statistics that fuel media & societies beliefs, that my friend is the result of system failures! We are the majority who have successfully turned the expected statistics on their head, shook them and got on with life, yet rarely get spoken about or heard” pyusuf

Even today, I recognise that the children who live with me still have very little by way of voice and I often question ‘have things really changed that much? This extends to the voices of care givers, those professionals and people who provide care, which can often feel compromised in bureaucratic red tape, or hoops, to jump through. So very little is heard or listened to without it feeling like some sort of tokenism, resulting in very little joined up change!

For me, the Care-Experienced Conference provides an opportunity for the ‘care experienced’ to bring and showcase their wealth of knowledge, their lived and felt experiences, their heritage, their talents, as a joined up ‘community’ to inform and collaborate on an equal footing and partnership, with those who can and want to influence change, so that the lessons of the past can support the future for tomorrow's generation.

I am excited by possibilities and look forward to working with you and being part of something that can ‘be’ the difference.

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