At Madlug we love to celebrate young people in care every day. We exist to help them travel with dignity and to know they are valued and worthy and we couldn’t do this without you. Once a year though National Care Day provides an opportunity for national recognition. A couple of weeks ago on National Care Day, Paul from the Madlug team had the amazing opportunity to meet over 30 care experienced young people in Rotherham. We’ve interviewed Paul to hear more about this trip.

Q How did you get invited to Rotherham?

A Thanks to the supporters of Madlug. As a result of Madlug customers, we were able to deliver 100 Giving Bags to children in care in Rotherham in addition to 30 backpacks for the young people taking part in the event. Without your support for Madlug, none of this would be possible.

Some of the backpacks and Giving Bags your support of Madlug was able to send to Rotherham

Q Tell us about your trip

A Well it was an early start. I flew out from Belfast City Airport to Manchester on the red-eye at 6:50 am but I was buzzing to get going. I jumped on a train to Sheffield from the airport and I had a bit of time to fill before the event so I took a walk through the city (I went to University there so it was really nice to see some familiar sights and also how the city has changed since I left). After that, I grabbed a train to Rotherham and made my way to the local college where the event was being hosted. I wasn’t sure if I was at the right place but when I saw the foyer decorated with bin bags I knew I was on the right track. You see the event I was attending had been co-ordinated by 30 young people in care from the Rotherham Looked After Children’s Council and their leader Lisa Du-Valle.

The young people decorated the entrance highlighting that bin bags are not suitcases

Q What happened at the event?

A It was amazing! The young people had co-ordinated the entire event - right from the decor at the theatre, refreshments for the delegates and an action-packed programme. They had worked with the local college students to produce a documentary film sharing their stories and experiences of going into care and having to use bin bags and they put on a bin bag fashion show to highlight that bin bags aren’t suitcases! It was so professional and well done! Everyone there was celebrating the young people and praising all their achievements!

Q Who all was there?

A That was another incredible thing, alongside representatives from the local health trust and foster carers, members of the local council and the Mayor were in the audience too - and even took part in the bin bag fashion show. These young people knew that everyone in the room was supporting and encouraging them.

Paul with Sharon Kemp, Chief Executive Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Q What were your highlights?

A There were three moments that stood out.

First of all the young people were amazing, especially during the fashion show. They were all so confident and strutting their stuff like they were at New York Fashion Week. Seeing them so confident warmed my heart - it reminded me that something as simple as having a proper bag can make such a difference in your life.

Secondly, I spoke with a number of the local councillors and their love and care for the young people was obvious. They spoke about previous events they’d run, opportunities they’ve been able to give the young people and even the young people having a direct line to speak with the chief exec, Sharon Kemp.

Thirdly, and finally, it was so encouraging to hear that part of this event was also to celebrate and publicly launch that Rotherham council has now banned the use of bin bags for young people in care. The Council members were so impacted by these young people’s stories that they had changed policy to better serve them!

The entranceway to the theatre as decorated by the young people

Q What’s next?

A We celebrate these young people, and we celebrate that in Rotherham they won’t have to use bin bags again. However, in the UK&Ireland there are over 90,000 kids in care and many of them are using bin bags. So, we keep going! We keep supporting these young people, raising awareness and empowering you to make a difference. I’m excited to see where we could be by the time National Care Day 2019!

March 07, 2018 — Madlug Blog

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