Becci is one of the Trust's Young Advisors and was awarded The Fostering Network's Oustanding Achievement Award in 2018. Here is Becci's letter to her younger self.
Some words of advice to my younger self!
Note to self when a social work assistant with blonde hair called Tracey knocks on your door, just let her in and whatever you do, do not give her attitude!
You’ve recently been approached by a lady called Tracey (bet you did not think you would see her again) about joining the children in care council. You do not realise it yet, but she will soon become a very influential part of your life. You have agreed to attend the children in care council even though you do not want to, you feel very nervous and out of your comfort zone but I reassure you that this will come to be one of the best decisions that you will have ever made!
You came to children in care council as a very shy and timid young person and slowly your confidence is growing. You love working on different issues to make not only your own life but the lives’ of other young people care better – such as challenging the jargon social workers use, those annoying words like ‘contact’, ‘CIN’ and ‘LAC’ that make you feel like you stand out even more as a ‘kid in care’- plus you don’t always know what they are about.
Keep at it, the hard work and determination will soon pay off. At the moment the younger ones seem so annoying because you are a teenager, who is sooo grown up! You won’t believe me if I told you that you will make lifelong bonds with these people, you all become a little family.
Word of advice - when Tracey asks you to come and speak to the Chief Executive of the Trust, Paul to become a Young Advisor, that is when you will know you have proven yourself and that is when your journey will start.
You will start to get opportunities to speak at large Trust events, they will scare the living daylights out of you, trust me you will get a rash and have palpitations the lot but it will not kill you! Just do it as they say ‘life is too short’ and all that. The more you do it the easier it gets, do as much as you can, PUSH YOURSELF! Because you can do it, you soon become so good at speaking your confidence grows and grows.
Opportunities are flying left right and centre and take them all. That shy timid girl will soon disappear, before you know it you will be speaking at staff conferences, speaking in front of hundreds of people without even flinching. You will have the opportunity to work with other young people in similar circumstances, the chance to visit London. You will find that people with big fancy titles – Ministers, Chief Social Worker, Directors of Children’s Services from across the country - are asking you, yes little old you, for your time and advice on how to make things better for other children in care.
You love what you are doing, so grab it with both hands. Show them what Becci Coole is made of. You get to do so many things. Those things you hated about living in a residential unit you get to change them; you get to turn them into homes. You get to sit on interview panels for social workers and even the Chair of the Trust Board and trust me your opinion really is listened too.
You will go on to do amazing things and other young people will look up to you! Your confidence, your sense of pride and your knowledge will surprise you. You will soon find yourself chatting to Paul, as you often do, joking about an idea you’ve got. Before you know it you are writing that idea up into a business plan and you soon find yourself in front of the Trust board (the people who make the big decision) pitching to them your idea to roll out training across the country to help adults understand what it is like to be a kid in care. They love your idea; what’s more you end up with a bursary named after you – Becci’s Bursary – and the really cool bit you get to use it to help other care leavers follow their dreams. Yes, you really do this!
You even go on to start a social work degree! Who would have known a young girl from Balby who left school with 3 GCSE’s, had nothing really going for her would do so much.
The Trust will become your family and you will to accept and turn your negative experience of home life into a positive by making it better for other young people.
So last note, no matter what anyone says you will do amazing!