Following the Queen’s Speech announcement of a new deal for kids in care, EBSF beneficiary Kim Cormack gave a speech and then an interview about the plan on 19 May on Radio West Midlands’s Adrian Goldberg breakfast show. (And this is the link, available for 29 days, 1hr 18 mins in. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03t4jz4#play )
Kim explained that she had been with three different foster carers from the age of 14. She managed to get to university, but still faced housing problems in her first summer break when she was put in a “very scary” homeless hostel. After finishing her undergraduate course in drama at Manchester she was supported through her postgraduate course in classical theatre at Kingston. Her MA very nearly didn’t happen due to a change in legislation (made once Kim had been guaranteed a scholarship) which meant that Kim would have been unable to attend her course due to lack of financial assistance for accommodation. Thankfully, and by very good luck, Kim was able to meet with members of Birmingham City Council mere weeks before the commencement of her course and received the help she was promised. Kim wanted to stress that this happens far too often; the future of Care leaver’s can no longer be left to chance.
Although she is supportive of the government’s initiative, she was critical of its sole concentration on careers and housing. She also said that social workers “even if amazing at their jobs, aren’t pushing people to find out who they want to be”. Having talked with many other care leaver’s, Kim outlined why many will be apprehensive about the proposals; who are the mentors going to be? Will they be working to a quota? Can they offer care leaver’s the consistency and understanding that has so far been lacking? Without guidance many care-leavers are vulnerable to crime, unhealthy social circumstances and self-harm. There are also huge mental health issues which need to be addressed. As Kim pointed out in the show, having suffered from PTSD herself, “If you aren’t well as a person, you’re not going to be able to live independently in a healthy way or hold down a job.”
For all that, there are many care leavers who don’t necessarily have aspirations to go to university, who “are doing amazingly well for themselves”. Kim is part of a network of care-leavers who share experiences and help and advise each other. Among many of these groups and organisations, there are many care leavers who have gone onto become mentors and life coaches.
After a period in London, Kim is now living in Birmingham and seeking to pursue her career as an actress and theatre director. She has also set up a crafts business, Vintage Crafts Company, making bespoke fabric items (from bunting and duvet bags to rucksacks and commemorative cushions). Its Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/VintageCraftsCompany/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel