The power of understanding your own history
Our identity and sense of belonging are tied up in the memories of our childhood but for children in care, their records are often the only thing they have to piece together their life story.
At the Together Trust, we have a substantial archive of records dating right back to 1870 because our founders recognised the significance of keeping records for the young people they cared for. It is part of our DNA to ensure that our care records help people understand their childhood.
Despite the introduction of statutory guidance care experienced people continue to receive their files with huge amounts of unnecessary redactions leaving more questions than answers. Whilst some redactions are a legal requirement, under GDPR legislation, it is important that we work with the people accessing their records to understand what it is that they are looking for. We always recommend that people meet with us to discuss their records so we can have an honest discussion about why some elements may be redacted, along with offering support during what can be a highly emotional experience.
All corporate parents, charities and residential care providers have a duty to ensure that for the children in our care now, those records are filled with photos, stories and milestones – items that any parent would keep for their own child. Record keeping should be a participatory process, so the young people involved feel they have ownership of their records.
If you have been in our care we encourage you to get in touch with us to discuss accessing your records. It is a privilege to preserve and protect the histories of the people we have cared for because your history is a part of ours.
The Care Leavers Association, who have campaigned for better access to care records, have a free guide for care leavers to offer guidance around accessing records.