A striking, new mural has been unveiled in Bridgend town centre of a poem reflecting the voices of care experienced teenagers in Bridgend County Borough.
A former Children’s Laureate Wales, Connor Allen, (pictured above) worked with care experienced teenagers, in a partnership facilitated by Foster Wales and Voices from Care Cymru, to create a piece of poetry sharing their life experiences, in the hope of educating people around the realities of fostering.
The aim of the poem, which has been brought to life in a distinctive mural created by local street artist and co-founder of Peaceful Progress, Bryce Davies, is to raise awareness and challenge perceptions of care experienced teenagers in the county borough.
The group of young people, aged 11 plus, hope their poem, which has been displayed publicly at Brackla Street in the town centre, will encourage people to consider fostering older children and teens in their local authority.
Recent government statistics state that there are currently nearly 5,000 children in foster care across Wales and 53 per cent of those are children aged 11 and over.
Many of these young people have faced extreme hardship and adversity, and yet when asked, it’s the negative perceptions of wider society that hurt them most.
Molly*, aged 14, from Bridgend, who co-wrote the poem, shares her experience of being a looked-after person: “Having a foster carer who sees through false perceptions and recognises my past but still continues to support and encourage me to make positive steps forward is helpful for my wellbeing.”
The council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Social Services and Health, Cllr Jane Gebbie, said: “We are delighted that this collaboration has reflected the thoughts and feelings of our young people in such a creative way. Thank you to everyone involved in this project, particularly our young people who have shared their experiences with us to help raise awareness of the positives and dispel some of the myths around fostering teenagers.”
Alastair Cope, Head of Foster Wales, says there are many benefits to fostering a young person aged 11 plus: “In many ways, teenagers in care are easier than fostering younger children. They have more understanding of what’s going on in their lives, and able to do things on their own. They need involvement in decision making and a place where their voices can be heard, support, a mentor, someone to stand by them, advocate for them and champion them.”
Emma Phipps-Magill, Operations Director, Voices from Care Cymru, adds: “Young people want to strip away these labels that have been given to them and just been seen as a teenager, and with the right support, thrive just like their non-care experienced peers. That’s why this project with Foster Wales is so important, because it gives them a voice and it’s helping to challenge these negative perceptions.”
To find out more about local authority fostering in Bridgend County Borough, visit the Foster Wales Bridgend website.
- Foster Wales is the national network of 22 Welsh local authority fostering teams.
- Peaceful Progress is a professional graffiti arts organisation.
- * Names of the young people have been changed to protect their identities.
- Voices From Care Cymru is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to improve the lives of care experienced children and young people in Wales by being an independent voice for the care community.