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  • Home | Care Experience and Culture

    The Fall TV Series Top of the Lake Mystery Drama The State Of It By Chris Wild The Fall TV Series 1/15

  • About | Care Experience and Culture

    Home About Authors A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Genre Academic Articles Academic books & Book Chapters Academic Theses Actor Artists Autobiography/Memoir Behind the Scenes Biography of Care Experienced people Blogs/Web Pages/Articles Children's Fiction featuring Care Exp Childrens Non-fiction featuring Care Exp Fiction by Care Experienced authors Fiction featuring Care Experience Films/Videos News: broadcast/print/Internet/magazine Non Fiction by Care Experienced authors Performing Arts Plays & Muscials featuring Care Exp Poetry Poet Radio & Podcast Sport Television Shows Writers Search Blog Suggestions A Digital Archive, the first of its kind featuring care experienced literature, spoken word and academic material Hear Dr. Dee Michell talk more about the digital archive: ABOUT THE CARE EXPERIENCE & CULTURE DIGITAL ARCHIVE: Rosie Canning (UK) & Dr Dee Michell (Australia) are Care Experienced scholars with a lifelong passion for reading. Having experienced many benefits from reading as a pastime and aware of the varied representations of CEP over time, Rosie and Dee are collaborating to develop a Digital Archive,a one-stop accessible site with information about Care Experienced characters in fiction and on-screen, as well as Care Experienced writers, artists and actors. The Digital Archive will build from work Rosie Canning and Dee Michell have already undertaken. They both have collections (Rosie’s mostly British and Dee’s mostly Australian) of stories written about Care Experienced characters and Care Experienced People who have been writers, artists, actors etc. many of these will form the ‘backend’ of the Digital Archive, to be called Care Experience & Culture DEFINITION OF CARE EXPERIENCE: Our definition of Care Experience includes statutory provisions as well as informal arrangements made through friends/family for children living in foster, residential, kinship care and children who have been adopted. ​ Dr Dee Michell is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Criminology & Gender Studies at the University of Adelaide. She was in foster care for 15 years from the age of 3 and is the co-author (with Nell Musgrove) of The Slow Evolution of Foster Care in Australia - Just Like a Family (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). Rosie Canning is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English at the University of Southampton. The focus of her research is the representations of orphans and care leavers in fiction. She was in foster and residential care for 17 years from the age of 6 weeks. Webmaster Consultant Jamie Crabb is based in London. Following his degree in drama and education, he worked in education, disability, mental health and wellbeing roles before training as a psychotherapist/counsellor. He co-edited Study Skills for Students with Dyslexia (Support for Specific Learning Differences). He is a member of Reclaim Care , a collective focused on healing together, supporting each other, understanding shared histories and imagining possible futures.

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    Authors C Rubin Carter ➝ Daunte Culpepper – Pro Football ➝ Back to Top

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Blog Posts (13)

  • Diversity & Children's Fiction

    Care Experience & Culture book club event: Via Zoom 25th June 2022 10am UK time / 6.30pm Adelaide / 7.00pm Melbourne Email: to register You can watch the Book Club Event here: Dr Sarah Mokrzycki is a writer and artist living on Eastern Maar and Wadawurrung land. She has a PhD on the importance of family diversity in picture books, and teaches creative writing and children’s literature at Victoria University. Sarah is a non-bio mum of three children from fostering backgrounds, and a passionate advocate of children at risk. Sarah wrote and illustrated a family diverse book, while also researching the importance and benefits of inclusive children's literature - a first in Australia. As Sarah writes: "Research shows that when children can’t see themselves in books, their sense of self-worth, their ability to form healthy friendships and their reading and educational development can all be obstructed. Relating to book characters is a vital tool that engages young children with literature. It connects them to the world, validates their personal experiences and helps forge a lifelong love of reading." Despite the clear benefits, Sarah has found that Australia's diversity is rarely reflected in Australian picture books, and where such books do exist, they tend to be published overseas, often in the UK. Jane Teather is a Reader and Home Educator living in Hertfordshire, UK Jane will talk about diverse representations in children’s fiction in some of the books she has found that provide a more diverse world view for children and young people. Starting with the books she read as a child and young adult, moving on to multiculturalism and disability awareness thanks to working in the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA), actively seeking out alternative voices for her children and finally continuing to find different viewpoints in recent fiction. Jane was born in Guildford and adopted at ten days old. She grew up in a loving family that was for her, the right match. She was a reader from a young age – some of her earliest memoires are of books she borrowed from the local library: Miffy, Rev Awdrey stories and My Naughty Little Sister. When Jane was nine they moved to Guernsey and she stayed there until she went to Brighton Polytechnic to study librarianship. Although initially she thought of working in a library because she loved books Jane quickly realised that it is more important to want to help people, and the books are a by product of this. Trained as a librarian, her first professional job was in a further education college in London which was a cultural shock after Guernsey and Brighton. Thanks to ILEA, she quickly had her eyes opened to multiculturalism and other diversities and thrived working with students from 16 – 70. In her early thirties she fell pregnant, and this was when her adoption finally caught up with her as she found she could not leave her baby for any length of time. The idea of going back to work made her want to sob and so with the full support of her partner she gave up paid employment and became a stay-at-home mum. This was, for her, a joyful act and one she has never regretted. Jane reads fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, poetry – anything that takes her fancy. **ALL WELCOME**

  • Examining the Past and Challenging the Future by Lindsay Bamfield

    Lindsay looks back as well as reflecting on the last couple of Care Experience & Culture book club events Perhaps the reason one of my A' Levels was a grade too low was because I went out dancing the night before. Or maybe I'd not revised enough. Whatever, it meant I wouldn't get my place on the prestigious librarianship course unless I re-did the A level or worked in a library for a year. I duly applied to the central library in Bristol and was granted an interview just after my 18th birthday in October. I was offered the post and asked when I could start. 'Could it be January?' I asked. The chief librarian looked horrified so I quickly explained that I was currently working in a children's home and really wanted to be there for Christmas. 'I think you are not very serious about this position,' replied the librarian frostily to which I agreed that no, perhaps I wasn't. And there ended my potential career. Instead I went on to qualify as a Residential Child Care Officer which later led me to becoming a speech and language therapist. My choice on that day was something I've never regretted. And Christmas at the children's home was wonderful. I still have the card that 6 year-old Fred drew for me. A bright pink panther (Fred's favourite cartoon) with a speech bubble announcing 'Happy Chrismas from the Pink Panter' [sic] Since those far off days there has been a huge re-examining of children's homes in the recent past, many of which were full of abuse and did little or nothing to protect the children in their care. I trust none of those I worked in were guilty (I certainly never witnessed nor suspected any such behaviour.) I've always believed that abusing a position of trust is one of the worst crimes we can commit against fellow humans. I have happy memories of the children who were in my care but I've often wondered whether their memories are as positive. I hope some of their recollections are but making stable relationships with carers was always going to be hard as they were subjected to a series of people, however good, passing through their lives. And did we address all the needs and the concerns of the children on the matter of their identities? And how well prepared were those entering their adult years? Years on, with greater wisdom, I see there may well have been failures. Like many people I've noticed how often the killer, especially serial killers, in books or TV programmes and films are orphans. (In reality relatively few children in care are orphans.) I'd assumed this wasn't so much that the writers believed orphans are evil, but that they couldn't be bothered to think up suitable reasons for why a child turns into an adult killer. If there is no family, parents or siblings, no-one needs to be held accountable for perhaps contributing in some way to those crimes. No backstory needs to be written - just some unnamed children's home. But much as I was aware of the unfairness of these portrayals, I didn't consider what that was like for people who are care-experienced. Josie Pearse writes a much more carefully considered article here. When Rosie Canning - fellow founder of Greenacre Writers and The Finchley Literary Festival - began working on an examination of representations of care-experienced people in literature, partly to address and challenge this issue, I suspect she didn't then realise how this theme would blossom into a number of other projects such as the UK/Australian Care Experience and Culture with Dr Dee Michell. Their recent online book club featuring representations of care in literature includes memoir and novels. Sarah Hilary joined the first discussion with her book Fragile, a modern gothic novel telling the stories of two young people who were in the care system and their foster mother. The second event's speakers were Susan Francis from Australia and Anne Harrison from UK. I was already following Susan on Twitter but hadn't, at that point, read her book The Love That Remains. Anne Harrison and her memoir, Call Me Auntie, was at the time unknown to me. Both spoke so eloquently about their memoirs and the search for their birth parents, I knew I wanted to read them both. I had been lucky enough to win a copy of Call Me Auntie from the book club which was winging its way towards me, and I quickly ordered a copy of The Love That Remains which I dived into immediately I received it. The books are very different but have a great deal in common. At the core of each is the writer's need to know their identity. The 'Where did I come from?' Both authors, one adopted, and one initially fostered and then living in children's homes, set out to search for their roots. They search for their birth mothers to learn about their identity and in the hope of forging a relationship of some sort. Both find answers to some of their questions but many are left unanswered. Both books are well written and enable to reader to follow the narratives easily. Anne Harrison's Call Me Auntie is a factual account; much of her early history is related using documents from her care file which was made available to her quite recently. This is not a 'misery lit' account by any means but some was hard to read. The treatment of the children in one care home was emotionally and physically abusive which made me feel very angry and the scenes with her birth mother filled me with sadness and dismay. Susan Francis's The Love That Remains tells of her need to discover the truth about her parents. Even though she was happily adopted, her unknown roots left her with insecurities. Here too, many scenes make for emotional reading. But Susan's need to search for the truth about the past doesn't stop with her birth parents. She discovers another awful secret which needs verification, and to be understood and accepted. Ultimately, both books are journeys of courage and discovery and yet more courage. To follow these authors on Twitter: Susan Francis @susanfranciswr1 Anne Harrison @anne4harrison and Lindsay @lindsaybamfield Article first published via Lindsay Bamfield's Blog

  • What about the 84%?

    Dr. Josie Pearse asks: Why is the murderer (almost) always adopted? I'm talking about a stereotype that I began to notice many many years ago on programmes like The Bill which my dad watched. It was inevitable that if you were over my adoptive parents' house he would settle down at 7 or 7.30 in the evening to watch the longest running police procedural ever. He was one of millions. It was a soap opera really, at a police station with a different crime each episode. You couldn't avoid it. It was perfectly easy TV after work. My mother would mostly disappear to the kitchen and it was my cue to go home. There was money to be made from writing for it. I heard a number of TV writers speak who got their first breaks with The Bill and at one point I decided to stay and watch with my dad, with the idea I might write something. I watched a few. It certainly followed a formula, a rhythym that chugged along with breaks for ads. Learning the formula was clearly necessary so I studied it. But I also began to notice something else. The crime wasn't always murder but when it was, I woke up to how many of the planned ones were committed by adopted or fostered adults. And if, God forbid, a serial killer was loose in Sun Hill then there was no doubt they would be adopted or fostered; none at all. I also noticed there was no other motive or explanation. The adoptees, care survivors, fostered people, killed simply because they didn’t grow up in their natural home. It put me off. I made efforts to counter stereotypes in my job. But adoptees and care-experienced people had not at that time, as far as I am aware, organised about portrayal. I was busy finding my mother and brother, dealing with the fallout in my relationships from reunion. As a group we were fighting for legal changes, for whole files to made available to us, for realism in our searching groups around another stereotype - the reunion story - and for acknowledgement of race to be a factor in adoption. But we had not yet organised about stereotyping. That's had to wait until recently, see Care Experience & Culture. In the job I did - adult literacy - we were conscious of early childhood differences and had regular training sessions for our comfortable, well-meaning volunteers to remind them that not everyone had a happy childhood and we shouldn't assume beginner writers would want to write about theirs. That was about as inclusive as the real world got. TV was years behind and for me, as an adoptee, honestly, I had educated myself and at work I felt part of the privileged world. I did feel annoyed about the murderers though. My antennae were up and I began to notice the stereotype in other TV crime dramas. A stereotype is something that doesn’t change. In studying writing, you learn that character driven plot is largely about the character changing. But these murderers weren't really characters. The police were the characters. The murderer was one dimensional. This was schlock though, so why take it seriously? As I look back it's no stretch to say that the stereotype affected me. I felt I should be grateful. I was lucky to be relatively sane, have a social life, have a job I believed in and get by financially. After all I could have gone to the bad. Not going to the bad was also my compensation and my moral containment. Only later in life have I seen how small my aspirations were. It's a pauper's aspiration. A stereotypical orphan's. As if, despite growing up in a lower middle class home, not going to the bad had to be my main drive and everything else was just a dream. Never mind imposter syndrome, what about unconsciously absorbing-the-bad-news on-every-day-TV syndrome. I can't say this is true for every #cep. But my bet is that staying right, not going bad, whatever it means to each of us, is a big thing we do. But what about the implications of having this stereotype fed into the common consciousness each evening? What effect on the population who switch on the box each evening? The tension is exciting, problems are solved and in the end justice seems to be served but oh, out for those people without families... They all end up in prison, right, though. So the world is safe. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries orphans were most often heroes - as they are today in children's books and comics. Without the constraints of parents they were free to get into all kinds of jolly scrapes. Moll Flanders and Tom Jones are not one dimensional, they change and survive everything life throws at them mainly because of their good natures - and despite their parental absence or rottenness. Later in the nineteenth century with the rise of the middle classes, orphans like Oliver Twist were also likely to suffer trials but through their true nature be restored to their rightful (usually middle class or wealthy) place in society. But since the twentieth centry and TV, our most common plotline is that because our parents were dead, dysfunctional, unable...we must be serial killers. I started counting eventually and by my reckoning 90% of TV serial killers were orphans. Even great writers were using this fixed image. Three examples - all by such wonderful writers it pains me to call them out. But in the name of awareness let me do it: The Bridge - great Scandi drama. The plot point at the end means the killer has to have a birth mother. He uses her garage to wall up his victim. The Fall - by the wonderful Paul Abbott: the murderer was ‘fostered in different homes'. No Offence - the plot is about the betrayal of the main character. Beautifully done. But the murderer ‘came from the nuns.’ So why have even great writers succumbed to this laziness? Some of it is perhaps because #ceps have all this complexity in our lives - in The Bridge the killer takes advantage of the invisibility of birth mothers to...commit a series of murders of course. But the main serial killer type seems to stem from some FBI statistics prepared in 1999 and written up in journals ever since. The internet was a baby in 1999, so I imagine some writer's excitement of coming across a journal in a library after an afternoon's search. Of 500 serial killers in the United States, the FBI had found, 16% were adoptees. The figure was big, given that only 2-3% of that population at large was adopted. The problematizing began: the 16% got all the attention. Adoptees were 8 times more likely to be serial killers. On and on...too much to read in journals of social work if your imagination is a scriptwriter's and you have started seeing the possible plot... It’s not uncommon for adopted people to be studied and problematized in the post-Freudian world. The one that always gets my goat into battle mode is the twins separated at birth and adopted by different families. The twins grow up to have identical tastes, or properties. There's only one word for the people who did the ethics review on that study...the people who knew where the two siblings were and studied them rather than reunited them...and the word is not writeable. The point though, surely, now, so many years later, that 84% of serial killers presumably come from average, biological, unseparated families. What about them? Why don't they get portrayed in proportion to their prevalence? There may be all kind of plotting reasons why not but...84% of all people are serial killers.? Shout it from the rooftops! The wider picture has to be that the narrative of the killer adoptee is so acceptable because a normal family is the primary unit of capitalism and we need to reinforce it's importance if this world is to continue on it's jolly, unconscious path to destruction and extinction. Simple really. But it's not simple for people who through no fault of their own have grown up with a wound. For that wound to be explained away without any hope of redemption is rotten and lazy. It's just one more travesty. So come on writers out there, lets look at the 84%. Let's problematize them for a change. Even the right way round: 84% of serial killers are ordinary people, is so much more interesting than the bad blood angle. There is hope. There are exceptions. Jane Campion's second series of Top of the Lake portrays the whole, messy, imperfect, triangle of mother, adoptive mother, adoptive father and teen-aged adoptee. The beauty of it is that...perhaps because I've watched so many... I did suspect the adoptee the whole way through. No spoilers. If you were adopted, over to you, it's on Netflix. You can switch on the box and relax for once.

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