A powerful short film from the University of East Anglia will showcase experiences that young LGBTQ+ people who are in care will be more than familiar with.
The film is to coincide with the findings of SpeakOut – a national study led by researchers at the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Centre for Research on Children and Families (CRCF).
For the six-minute animated short, six young researchers who identify as part of the LGBTQ community spent time living in care. It is hoped that the project will be able to help others in care and raise awareness of those in the care system. The film will screen on Saturday 28th July as part of the line-up for this year’s Norwich Pride before being available to watch online.
The research conducted by SpeakOut is the first and largest research project of its kind in England, and focused not only on vulnerability and risk, but also on the strengths and resilience of young people and the support offered by foster families and professionals working with them. The study itself involved interviews with 46 LGBTQ young people, together with 26 foster carers with experience of caring for LGBTQ young people, as well as a survey of 152 local authorities and focus groups.
Lead researcher Dr Jeanette Cossar, of CRCF and UEA’s School of Social Work, said: “The responses from the young people in particular provide powerful insights into both their personal journeys and their varied experiences of services. Their contribution enhanced every stage of this project.
We hope the film and the recommendations we’ve made for those working in the care system will lead to a better understanding of the issues facing LGBTQ young people in care and ultimately improve services and support.
The process of making the film involved three full-day workshops, during which young people gathered with researchers to discuss their experiences as well as the main themes to emerge from the research. Through group exercises, discussions and interviews they decided on the message, the audience and the tone of the film. Artwork created by the young researchers was then animated and edited by CRC’s Lizzy Hobbs.
One of the young people involved in the project and featured in the film is Brett Service, from London. He said: “As a gay care leaver I got involved in this amazing project to improve services offered to both the current generation of LGBTQ children in care and care leavers, as well as any future generations.
It is important that LGBTQ young people get the correct support from professionals involved in their care so they don’t feel alone, unwanted or unsupported. In this project we have all been able use our expertise as care leavers as well as our expertise as members of the LGBTQ community to advocate on behalf of other young people who are LGBTQ to make the changes needed.
The screening of the film, followed by a Q&A session from participants, will take place on Saturday 28th July from 11.30am-12.30pm at The Forum Auditorium in Norwich. The film will then be available to watch on the SpeakOut project website: https://www.uea.ac.uk/speakout
The research project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The team has been awarded further funding by the NIHR CLAHRC East of England to develop training materials for professionals based on this work and the film has been made as part of that.