When no one cares remember that you do

Young care leavers

​Ben Samson left care and became a success against all odds. Now he implores other care leavers to do the same 

10th July 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

When I was first told the statistic that the majority of care leavers won’t go to university and will probably end up unemployed or in poorly paid work, it didn’t surprise me.

As a care leaver myself, I never felt valued. I never believed I’d hold down a decent job, own a home, get married, have children. I reckoned I’d always be in care or worse prison.

Then when I started to look at the issue I thought: why is this the case? I now know it’s because care leavers don’t really ever leave care. Emotionally and mentally they remain looked after, if only because the care system makes very little effort to instil confidence or self-esteem in individuals. 

Care in the past was anything but. It was actually a peal and not a care system. Abuse and vilification were the norm and it is only in the last 20 years the Scottish government and local authorities have addressed that.

After a review into care in 2007, I became an Official Visitor for the Care Inspectorate. A voluntary role, I visited care settings to feedback how these institutions were engaging with those they were caring for.

Now I’ve used my background and experience to visit these institutions and to encourage young people to build their self-esteem, their confidence and their social skills. I tell them they can achieve whatever they want if they believe in what they do.

Today I run my own courier company. I employ 30 people and run 14 vehicles. The business is doing well but it was only after I left care without qualifications that I realised I could only work for myself.

From success came confidence and I want to motivate others by telling them don’t be restricted by the fact you’re in care. 

Don’t be restricted by the fact you’re in care

Those in care often need more intensive help. When you’re in care you feel unloved and unwanted. It’s natural not to care about school or the future. But that needs to change. Looked after children need positive confirmation they are wanted in society, because many have been told all their life they’re unloved.

Despite various inquiries, consultations and government strategies, children in care still face a life of stunted opportunity. It might get better but it will never be cured. No-one is unrealistic enough to expect a total solution. Only a secure loving family environment can provide that. But we can and should do much more to support greater opportunity for looked after young people.

I proactively employ care leavers in my business. Currently one third are from that background. They as every bit as capable and hard working as any employee. It takes a bit more effort to support them.

However, it’s nothing exceptional and any employer can easily do the same if they really want to make the difference to a young person’s life and wider society.