Sancia hosts a podcast that focuses on the experience of care leavers, which was initially funded through London Borough of Culture 2020. As a young care leaver herself, Sancia has been supported by a Grandmentor since February 2021. For Volunteers’ Week on the #iwill campaign’s #PowerOfYouth day, she chatted to our Communications Manager about why she runs the podcast, why it’s important to platform the voice of young people, and why every care leaver should have access to a volunteer mentor.
In 2020 I won £2000 of funding to create a social change project about something that I care about. I had carried out some research on whether people knew who care leavers are, and I asked people how they would identify a care leaver. I found that the majority of people I asked thought I was talking about elderly care, I knew there was a gap in the market and an opportunity to shed light the Children and Young people Social Care system. I run the podcast in my spare time with help from a videographer and a producer who help me put it all together.
LOTS of people have care experience. My platform aims to give them a voice, make them recognisable and give them a chance to share their experience and stories of the care system on the podcast and provide possible opportunity for their future. I hope people will reach out to me and say things like, ‘I saw [insert name] on your podcast who wants to be an engineer. We’re actually offering jobs and are looking to be more diverse with care experienced people, do you mind putting me in touch?’.
Hopefully the podcast will expand past Brent and go global, international and worldwide! By law you are considered care experienced if you spend a certain amount of time in care as a young person, but it affects many more people than that. I am interested to speak to anyone, from anywhere that has had care experience to be involved. Sancia’s Podcast is also a platform for people interested in sharing their stories and experience; through care experience/ background such as foster carer and professionals within the sector.
Even if someone spends two days in care, that’s an experience. I want to know how it impacted them. If people have family members in care, that’s important as well because it expands the conversation. ‘How was it for you as a family member to watch that? What do you think you could have done, or how did you support them while they were away?’.
When you are going through the education system, people say things like ‘Oh, you were in care. What’s a care leaver?’ It’s not recognised, and you’ll get comments like, ‘Have you been to jail then? Do your parents not love you? Do you live with a foster family?’ There is a lot of assumptions and negative stereotypes. People treat people with experience of care like we’re the plague and they need to avoid us. We have problems within schools as well – how do I tell my friends they can’t come and sleep over because I’m in care and living with a foster family?
I had a young person message me saying the videos helped her tell her friend at school that she was in the care system. She showed them a podcast video and asked for her friend’s perception, and this gave her the chance to share her situation with her friends. Her friends don’t treat her any different from before, and they are probably more understanding.
It’s about encouraging opportunities and opening doors, and get voices and stories heard that have never been heard so that the system can be improved for the next generation, because we are the experts of our experience.
I definitely think that every care leaver should have access to a volunteer mentor. Because a volunteer has taken personal time to support you, it’s more sincere. And it’s like having a PA, but you know there isn’t a paycheck or no calls after 5pm at the end of it, so it doesn’t just make you think ‘cool, you’re just going to leave.’ Because it’s a volunteer giving their time without a contract. Jean-Michel matched/ paired myself and my Grandmentor Rosetta accurately (spot on), I have only met her virtually due to the pandemic, but we got on from day 1. Her positive vibrant energy is like I have known her forever! She has a motherly aura that is non-judgemental, caring, encouraging and supportive with professional boundaries. I feel less restricted and reluctant to share, it’s almost like the cool aunt or big sister vibe that has your best interest at heart. I can go to for anything like a chat, advise, motivation, encouragement, and support. It takes a special person to dedicate their time to help others. My experience with some PAs is that at 5pm they are out the office and aren’t available at weekends. This is different for a volunteer, because she can be more flexible which is really helpful for me.
Rosie is open to learning from me, as I am with her.
I consider myself both an altruistic person (a selfless person that loves to help others) and a philomath (someone interested in learning new things). I have a passion for helping people through ways of eradicating ignorance, bias and analyse decisions which is in their best interest. I am open minded and non-judgmental, and I believe knowledge is infinite and powerful if used effectively. I recognise the same characteristics and qualities as myself in Rosie. She is just an incredible person; my only regret is that I hadn’t met her sooner.
My recommendation to other young people that wanted to start a youth social action project would be if you have a passion for it, do it! Why not? What’s the worst that can happen? Failing? Failing is good! When you fail, the only way to go is up, plus there is always room for improvement. Now more than ever with the pandemic, we need more young people shining light on issues happening at the current moment, so their voice/opinions/experiences need to be heard. We need them to break negative stigma that society has placed on young people for social control of what is believed to me ‘normal’. After all, we – the youths – are the future. I’m a strong believer in social change. Whatever you believe in, go for it, fight for it!
There are lots of topics that Sancia discusses in her podcast with other care experienced people that aren’t often considered or included in everyday conversation about the care system. These include things like maintaining routine, issues with attachment/detachment and the importance of communication between adults looking after children. Her podcast can be found on Youtube and Spotify, and you can keep up to date with her work at: