New ground-breaking traineeship for care leavers announced by The Foundling Museum

A ground-breaking three-year project to develop a bespoke, paid training and mentorship programme for care-experienced young adults has been launched, with funding from Oak Foundation.

Developed by the Foundling Museum, this unique programme will equip care-experienced young adults from Hackney, Islington and Lambeth, with the skills to devise and deliver workshops at the Museum for groups, particularly children in foster care and children’s homes. Tracing Our Tales will provide paid employment and valuable life skills, including public speaking, critical and creative thinking, and people management, as well as skills in art and creative expression. At the same time, the trainees and the workshops they lead will inspire looked-after children facing similar life challenges. It is anticipated that as the project develops, children who have attended workshops as participants will elect to join the training programme, and that through their association with the Foundling Museum, their engagement with creativity, art and museums will blossom. Evaluation of Tracing Our Tales is being led by Professor Claire Cameron at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education.

The Museum’s story resonates particularly strongly with looked-after children and care leavers, particularly those who have grown up in children’s homes or in foster care. Tracing Our Tales is part of the Museum’s ongoing commitment to enabling marginalised young people to work alongside artists in order to see the world and its possibilities differently. At the same time, these projects enable all our visitors to make links between our historic story and contemporary life in care. Recent projects include Lemn Sissay’s striking text-based mural Superman was a Foundling (2014), that explores the powerful role that fictional looked-after children play in our culture.

Museum Director, Caro Howell, said: ‘Enabling vulnerable and marginalised young people to work alongside artists, to explore life’s possibilities, and to take ownership of the story we tell, is at the heart of our work and reflects the Museum’s historic DNA. Tracing Our Tales is the ambitious and logical next step in our work and we are hugely grateful to Oak Foundation for making this ground-breaking project happen.’

Lemn Sissay, Foundling Museum Trustee, said: ‘Tracing Our Tales is an incredibly important project for care leavers, providing them with transferrable life skills, motivation, inspiration, and ultimately paid employment. The Foundling Museum tells the empowering story of life in care, a history experienced by the trainees as looked-after children and which they are best-placed to retell.’

Professor Claire Cameron, Lead Evaluator, said: ‘We look forward to tracing the learning and outcomes for young people, the Museum staff and workshop attendees in this exciting, innovative and educative project.’

Since it opened in 2004 the Museum’s learning programme has brought the Foundling Hospital story to life in ways that are meaningful for young people, especially those who have been through the care system, to help them see the world differently and to encourage their potential. All programmes are created and delivered by practicing artists from many creative disciplines, reflecting the involvement of not only painters, sculptors and musicians in the Hospital’s history, but also writers, performers and craftspeople. Projects run for months or even years, as this enables the Museum to build trust, embed best practice, and have a lasting and positive effect on participants’ lives.

This project has been made possible thanks to support from Oak Foundation.