Project type:
Community & social inclusion

August 2021

Participant Group:
Children with experience of living in care

Mary Branley, Sharon Kelly

Sligo Home Youth Liaison Service

Irish Youth Foundation

Book Project with Children/Young People in Care

We were delighted to be working with Sligo Home Youth Liaison Service to create a brand-new book with young people in Sligo about their experiences of living in care. Over 4 days in August 2021, young people worked alongside artist Sharon Kelly and writer Mary Branley in a series of creative workshops in Sligo.

We started the project by getting to know each other and share their experiences, using a mixture of games and activities that are intended to make everyone feel safe and welcome. We were aware from initial discussions that the young people would really like their peers to understand their experiences of foster care, to know the many reasons why somebody might be in foster care, and to remove the taboos around speaking about foster care.

The group then engaged in creative play using experimental drawing materials such as charcoal on the end of long sticks! They created a series of striking images both working collaboratively and on their own. During these creative sessions, they took part in storytelling and conversations with Sharon and Mary in a process of getting to know each other and their peers.

Together, the participants developed new artwork, created new structures such as boats and rafts, had a go at mask-making, chatted, explored, and had fun! Young people talked about their experiences living in foster care with the project writer Mary, and with each other. They felt very strongly that other young people should know what living in care means, and what it does not mean.

The project took place outdoors, and so there was lots of exploration and activity that connected the group to nature. The creative sessions took inspiration from the nearby river and the woods. In the final session, participants created beautiful origami pieces. Each participant choose one of their paper artworks to float in the river in Sligo. A lovely way to finish the creative sessions!

We are currently working on the final design of their book which will be launched in early 2022. Their book will focus on their experience of the care system, offering them a space for their unique creative expression, their experience and their voice.

A big thank you to Sligo Home Youth Liaison Service who partnered with us on this project, and to Irish Youth Foundation for funding the project.