An exhibition featuring the work of young people leaving care is open at Taunton Library from this week to celebrate Care Leavers Week 2022.
Based around the theme of identity, the exhibition features art, photography, writing, film and more. Each piece of work has been created by a young person aged 16 to 25 who has a personal experience of care.
The exhibition is open to the public until 28th October during normal library opening hours.
The exhibition was arranged by Somerset County Council Leaving Care Apprentice Kelsey Nichol, herself a care leaver and now a passionate advocate for the voice of young people and adults who have grown up in care. She invited young people to submit their work, and has around 50 pieces exhibits on display at the event.
Kelsey said: “Some young people who have been in care can feel like they have lost their sense of identity. I always encourage young people to speak up and eventually the right person will listen. This exhibition shows the wider public that care experienced young people do have a voice, they have an identity and a personality.
“I encourage as many people as possible to come along and see the talent from Somerset care leavers, look past the statistics and find out who these special people are who you might normally miss.”
Councillor Tessa Munt, Executive Lead for Children & Families at Somerset County Council said: “Art is a powerful form of self-expression, and it’s so exciting to see these young people raise their voices through such a powerful medium. It is lovely to find everything together in one place and discover the identity of these young people in one amazing exhibition.”
With more than 600 Somerset Care leavers, Fostering In Somerset is highlighting the need for more ‘Stepping Stones’ carers to support young people as they make the transition to independent living and adulthood. This often involves helping them gain vital life skills such as cooking, shopping, managing money and accessing further education or employment opportunities.
Stepping Stones carers need to be aged 23 or over, have a spare room in their home, and ideally live in a town or area with good transport links, as it’s important for our care leavers to have access to amenities and opportunities.
In return, Stepping Stones carers receive a weekly fee, starting at £189.31 plus a little extra for food and utilities (up to £27.50) paid by the young person from their weekly allowance.
To find out more about how you could change a child’s story as a Stepping Stones carer, visit www.fosteringinsomerset.org.uk or call 0800 587 9900.