New documentary highlights experiences of young care leavers airs in Walsall

A new documentary exploring the lived experiences of young people leaving the social care system in Walsall and the barriers they face was screened at the Light Cinema, Walsall on Tuesday 20 February 2024.

The documentary, which was produced by Open Lens Media, focuses on delivering gripping stories and insights into the everyday challenges faced by young care leavers. 

In Walsall there are about 350 care leavers, who, at some point in their childhood, have been in the care of the council and left after turning 18 years old.  

Walsall Council and partners such as police, health, housing, and education organisations act as Corporate Parent to those in the council’s care and it is their responsibility to prepare young people for adulthood and help them to live stable and safe lives. 

Filming for the documentary took place during National Care Leavers Week in October 2023 and the film focuses on the experiences of Zoe Morgan, head of service for Corporate Parenting and leaving care at Walsall Council, who spent some time away from her usual home and work life to live in the shoes of a care leaver. The film portrays Zoe’s attempt to understand some of the difficulties young people face and how the council can improve its service.  

Contributors to the documentary also included Transition and Leaving Care staff, separated migrant children and young care leavers. 

Councillor Stacie Elson, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services at Walsall Council said, “I am deeply moved by the powerful experiences shared in this documentary, which offers a firsthand glimpse into the realities faced by young care leavers in Walsall.  

“It serves as a stark reminder of the crucial role the local authority and partners play in ensuring these young people have access to help, resources and opportunities they deserve to thrive, and we are committed to learning from their experiences and working with them to improve existing support systems and address the gaps identified in the documentary. 

“We are also dedicated to raising awareness within the wider community to foster understanding and empathy for the unique challenges faced by young care leavers. 

“This documentary is a valuable tool for driving positive change and I thank Open Lens Media for their portrayal of these young people’s journeys. By listening to their voices and taking action, we can build a brighter future where all young care leavers in Walsall feel empowered and supported.” 

Founder and CEO of Open Lens Media, Daina Anderson-Mpunzi said,“We are proud to have worked on this documentary which shines a light on the journeys of young care leavers in Walsall. Our hope is that this crucial work highlights solutions needed to support young people’s transition from being a child in care, whilst celebrating the steps that they have taken after leaving the care system and in gaining independence.” 

Zoe Morgan, head of service for Corporate Parenting and leaving care at Walsall Council featured in the documentary and said, “Working alongside young people to make this film has given me valuable insight into some of the issues faced by our care experienced young people and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.  I am immensely proud of the young people we work with and feel an even greater level of passion in my role to ensure that the support we offer is right for them.”  

As part of the development of the documentary, Open Lens Media delivered a series of empowerment workshops to a group of care leavers who supported the creation of the documentary by sharing an insight into ways in which they think the care system could be improved. 

For more information on how to view the documentary visit: www.openlensmedia.co.uk. 

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