No substitute for lived experience

May 10, 2019

Mind Of My Own is delighted to welcome Cameron, our newest member of the team and author of this exceptional blog. You will be richly rewarded by reading Cameron’s take on why there really is no substitute for lived experience.

Nobody had a clue

Methodically sifting through the stacks of paperwork one thing became clear: None of these people really had a clue what I’d been going through.

Six months after submitting my subject access request I was rewarded with a large cardboard box stuffed full of loose unsorted printouts documenting the entire history of my involvement with my local authority. From early warning signs of neglect, through child protection hearings, my emergency care order, and all of the assorted documentation associated with my tumultuous journey through the Scottish foster system

Whose memories?

Time and time again I found my memory at odds with the official story; A collection of interpretations of my lived experience seen through snapshot meetings and information passed from professional to professional as reports were gathered and collated. It was only in the rare places I’d been consulted (or asked to submit evidence) that I found the authenticity I needed to help me piece my history together. The electrifying experience of being reconnected to my own past perspectives nestled amongst the contents of papers as sterile and lifeless as the trees they used to be.

Speaking from the heart

This was the story I told when I was invited to interview for Mind of My Own, an organisation aiming to amplify the voices of vulnerable young people using technology to allow them to say what they need to say, in their own format, as and when it suits them. Plugging their perspectives directly into the services designed to protect them. I spoke from the heart and told my interviewers that access to something like the One app would have made a difference for me. To have been able to express myself knowing people were listening. Knowing that my journey could have been less of a rocky one. Knowing social services would have been able to spot the early warning signs of my imminent violent placement breakdown and been able to step in earlier, preventing my post-care life starting with a spell of homelessness.

I can make a difference

I’m excited to announce Mind of My Own recognised the value in my experience and perspective and asked me to join the team. They work smartly, in a distributed digital fashion – and in the short time I’ve known them I’ve discovered to my delight that we’re perfectly ethically aligned. It also helps that they’re friendly to a fault.

Knowing how much richer that subject access request data-dump would have been had my perspectives been woven through those files, I’m galvanised to do everything in my power to make sure the children of the Scottish foster system have access to Mind of My Own services. Because I know for a fact this is a way I can help make a difference.

Cameron has taken the position of assistant account manager and will be supporting our Mind Of My Own community in Scotland. The standard of applicants was very high and we would like to thank all our Scottish friends and colleagues for helping with the recruitment, especially Who Cares Scotland, for supporting us in our mission to start to employ care experienced people.