Read 'Taking Back the Narrative' - creative writing by young people in care

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Taking Back The Narrative A Five Rivers Fostering Family Multi-Media Arts Residential Workshop for Young People Led by Artifacts, Care Experienced Artists Group December 2019 Huddersfield

This is a multi-media book with music, audio, writing, pictures and film. Click on the link next to this symbol for your multi-media experience!

Creativity is an exploration, a journey of truth, discovery and self-development. Though the pages of this book, you will be immersed in the creative journey of some truly remarkable, honest, talented and insightful young people as they share their truths, their way, through the creative arts. Whether we pen it, paint it or perform it, there is incredible power in owning and sharing our stories, our histories, our perspectives and our words, and between these pages you will witness powerful expressions of loss, love, lessons and everything in between. When we own our story and ‘take back our narrative’ we learn that we are not defined by it, rather we are the authors who decide the next chapters, we are the curators of our dreams and the exhibitors of our excellence. This book highlights the pure and honest voices of a group of young people who wanted to tell bits of their story their own way. When you read or listen to the young people’s own version of 'I Was, I Am, I Will', you cannot help but be moved as you are immediately taken on their personal journey and get to feel the rawness that is within them, but perhaps more importantly, you will hear their strength, their courage and their determination to succeed...and that, my friends, is POWERFUL. Yusuf Paul McCormack - December 2019

This book is a tribute to all those that attended, special individuals who needed someone to take a risk, give them an opportunity, a chance to shine... This is what 'BEING THE DIFFERENCE' looks like.... Thank you Five Rivers for believing in those whose voices aren't heard enough.

‘We are all artefacts of our own lives’ Artifacts, care experienced artists group: Yusuf Paul McCormack & Saira-Jayne Jones

‘Taking Back The Narrative’ was a multimedia immersive arts weekend run by two careexperienced artists,Yusuf Paul McCormack and Saira-Jayne Jones. During the weekend, the young people were given the opportunity to investigate how they could express their feelings about their lived experiences through poetry and 3-dimensional sculpture. Part of the weekend explored the narrative that can sometimes surround children with care experience and which can be harmful at times. The group of nine young people who had never met before talked about their various different backgrounds and how their feelings have evolved over time. Many of the young people shared compelling stories and experiences, and their telling and re-telling of stories in this creative setting allowed those stories to be placed in context - the past. The group worked on positive affirmations and visions of the future. Most of all, the group of young people bonded and created memories that will live on - touching not only one another but the staff that were present as well. “I feel so proud and privileged to work alongside our young people. I love their strength, their beauty, their vulnerability and their energy. Running weekends like this makes me realise just how lucky I am to meet such awesome individuals such as our young people. Every day I feel lucky to have found a job like this one.” Olivia Doherty - National Participation Lead

“At one point, the young people, collectively, asked for the opportunity to share their personal stories with the group. This proved to be a thoughtprovoking, emotional and empowering session. The events of this weekend provided real evidence of the positive impact that Five Rivers and its dedicated carers are having on the development and future potential of the young people in our care. It was extremely rewarding to see how the young people were sharing their positive ambitions for their futures and inspiring each other. The feedback from the young people was overwhelmingly positive. They enjoyed the activities, particularly the poetry, and the opportunity to spend time with other young people like themselves. Many new friendships were formed.” Paul Revis - Support Worker Note from Paul “There is a power in owning our stories and connecting with our truth.”

I was, I am, I will be I was confused as a kid because I’d no idea what a good family was I felt like a failure I was blind at the start I will be the best person in me I am now more than what I was I am a little boy with high aspirations I am going to be the best person in me I will achieve things I want to achieve I am something bigger than what you would think

I was, I am, I will be I was confused as a kid and I’d no idea what a good family was I was skinny because I never got fed I was 4 foot 9 when I moved into foster care I was chavvy and dirty I’m now a chameleon because I blend in I’m tidier than I was before I’m well fed I’m happier I will reach my dreams I will have a family I will have a dog I will have a life

I was a child who was angry, sad and confused but nobody cared about me I was the file that people would read about I was the child that didn’t care about my future I am more than the things people say about me I am more than what people write about me I am the one that tried really hard to get noticed I am the one who is scared of losing the people I love I will be a person who goes out every day trying to get my life back I will be confident about my life but not let my past ruin me I will be strong for the people that I love - to protect them I will be the witty one that people will get annoyed with I will be the best person in me

I was, I am, I will be I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

was upset and sad was a boy with no parents was angry at my uncle and what he did to me was confused about who to talk to was a stone to others am a little boy who wants to stay happy am something bigger than what you would think am a little boy who has feelings and big thoughts am a boy with aspirations am the best that I can be don’t care what other people say about me will be a pilot one day - that is my dream will achieve my aspirations will be loving and loved will learn from my past and know who to talk to will be the best I can be

I was the child who had no sense of safety I was frightened alone and overprotective I was the child who took out all my confusion and frustration on myself, doing everything possible to hurt and abuse myself I was the child who was too afraid to make eye contact, to speak to adults or my peers I was the child who gave up and who hid away I am now more than what I was I’m healing and growing into the person I thought I could never be I’m am finding myself, my identity and my sense of self I am proud of who I am, what I have been through and how I kept going, even when I wanted to be off this earth I am slowly getting better, becoming healthier and happier, it’s taking a long time, but it will be worth it I will be the person I’ve always wanted to be I will be doing what I want to do, making a change in the world I will be patient with myself, I’ll look after myself and I will treat myself right I will grow and blossom as a person and remind myself it’s all OK I will change the world for myself and others because I’m important and I am strong

I was distraught at the beginning I felt like a failure I felt like no one loved me I felt that my mum only wanted girls I’m appreciative of my mum and dad I am flabbergasted at how much I have come on I am a winner in my eyes I will get my dream job I will be a foster carer I will get my dream car I will be a lifelong supporter of the blue army

I was blind at the start I was dragged in by a cart I was forgotten in the end I was left on a bend I was alone, afraid but brave I’m stronger every day I’m still here and breathing I’m struggling but fighting I am the lightening I am amazing every day I will do everyone proud I will be the man of the house I will be the best I will stand out from the rest I will be me

For more information on how you can get involved in more projects like this, have your voice heard and help us to improve things for other children in fostered or residential care, like you. Please contact: or visit or visit our online media platform

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