Hannah Bradley, a care leaver who has been recognised for her outstanding achievement discusses, her hopes of becoming a social worker, and those in her life that supported and inspired her.
After a series of difficult circumstances, I went into foster care at the age of 10. I lived with several families before finding a stable home with my long-term foster carers, Jean and Hossein, who foster with Five Rivers Child Care.
Having the security of being with one family until the age of 17 gave me the support and stability I needed at that time in my life and I’m still really close with them now.
In care, I met many different social workers, and it was the actions of a few of these individuals that I thank for transforming my life and ultimately helping to set my sights on becoming a social worker to help others like me.
As a result of my experiences, I am now studying Working with Children, Young People and Families at Leeds Beckett University, which I hope to follow with a master’s degree in social work.
I was placed with many different social workers over the years and some of them went above and beyond for me. As a child in foster care, you naturally develop mistrust and it’s the job of a good social worker to break down these emotional barriers and show you that genuine support does exist.
I now want to be that person for other children and young people in care. I want to share real insight and ideas on how to improve social care practice from my lived experiences, to have an impact on the lives of children for the better.
I met Olivia Doherty at the age of 14 while still in care. Olivia is the national participation and engagement officer at Five Rivers Child Care, an independent fostering provider and social enterprise that received the Employer of the Year Award at last year’s Children and Young People Awards. Olivia became a vital source of compassion, support and knowledge for me, and someone who has had a huge impact on my journey towards working in care, not only inspiring me but also helping me with my university application – she remains a big part of my life today.
It was thanks to Olivia that I began working with Five Rivers Child Care, dedicating my time alongside my degree to sharing my experiences of growing up in care with those going through foster carer assessment. Five Rivers Child Care places a lot of emphasis on equipping new foster carers with learnings from real and lived experiences. My role is to work with them and help them understand what a child coming into their care could be thinking or feeling, to try and explain some behaviours and offer advice on what a child going into a foster home might respond well to.
The more people who want to help those in care the better, and I’m proud that I can have an active and important role in the future of fostering both through my work with Five Rivers Child Care and in my pursuit to become a social worker in the future.
Hannah Bradley, 18, is a care leaver who provides essential training to Five Rivers Child Care. Hannah is also a winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award at The Fostering Network’s Fostering Excellence Awards.