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How I Got Invited
I Got an invitation from someone called Brandon Hardy From Open Forums Events on 14th Jul 2022 telling me about a conference they was hosting on the 8th of December about Looked After Children Promoting Equality Of Opportunity in Manchester and told me they had read my blogs and thought I would be a great addition to their public speaking event. I’ve seen a few emails like this before, so was hesitant that it would happen. But I never let an opportunity slide. I signed up, and they added me to their website. They even agreed to pay for my transport and hotel costs. That’s very nice of them.
Preparing to speak
I Had just under 5 months to prepare and if I’m totally honest, I sucked at preparing until last moment, I’m one of those people that leave things last moment. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to say and speak, but I’m not perfect. At writing things down and getting perfect.
I had quite a few people give me support during the buildup to the event and to those people I can’t thank enough; they offered me lots of help. People told me just to be myself and others offered to help with writing and wanting to hear the speech / review my script.
It wasn’t until the beginning of November that I actually realised this event was going on… and they were not joking around with me. i got told my train tickets had been booked and that i could withdraw them from the local train station. As I got home from work i tried it and boom…. It finally settled that I had to go. And i started to really panic. I’ve got these tickets, but I’ve still not got that perfect script! what am I going to do?
I found time whenever I could to perfect my speech… but my most productive time was during the last couple of days before the event. I remember even on the day I had to travel down, I was still making adjustments… This was my chance to shine because I was not getting enough sleep and I was drinking too much caffeine. I’ve been wanting to share my story with Social Health Care Practitioners all my life. And I didn’t want to screw up or let them down. I was determined that this would not be the last time I get this opportunity.
Travelling to Manchester Piccadilly
It was finally the day before the event and I was so anxious for the 3 hour journey upon me. Everything was going smoothly until i arrived at London Euston terminal where all the trains had been delayed, there was a fatality on the tracks on my journey and overhead rails damages at Euston… I thought that this was just my luck and that i could never arrive in time! Some trains were delayed for over 2 hours! And the station was packed. There was people everywhere.
After waiting for an hour, I finally see a Manchester bound train. And noticed people running towards the platform! I made my way to Platform 15 and I could board a train but not sit down!
I spent 3 hours standing up! But I Thankfully made it into Manchester at 19:00 and headed to my hotel.
During the Looked After Children Promoting Equality Of Opportunity Conference
I was first greeted by the event producer Jane Mackenzie, who was really nice and pleasant and introduced me around the venue. As well as gave me some pointers and advice on what to expect. The first speakers I met was Jackie McCartney (Rees Ambassador) For the Rees foundation and Sarah Collett Business Development Manager for rees foundation Jackie was also a care experienced person who speaks about her time in care and it was interesting to find out how well Care Providers / Residential Homes have changed for the better over years compared to how they used to be many years ago. I’ve asked Jackie if i can share this poem she wrote which has so much emotion and gives you an idea of how things have changed. The biggest issue we face in residential care / fostering right now is multiple placements, whereas Jackie faced a lot of hard labour and abuse. Please check out -> I’m So Lucky – Jackie McCartney.
Another speech also caught my attention, and it was a speech about Independent visitors and Ashleigh Searle explained to us about her experience in care. And that was the only consistent thing in her life as her independent visitor. someone that, no matter what went on in her life, even after her time in care, was still by her side. This really hit me and has inspired me to one day look at becoming an IV myself.
There was plenty of other charities and organisations that i connected with and it was a fantastic event hosted by Open Forum Events I’ve made lots of wonderful connections and learnt a lot that will help me become better at providing care to the future generation of Looked After Children
I had attended the entire event and watched everyone do amazing presentations. Now it was my time to shine. I went through a rundown of my family history and how generation trauma had run down my immediate family and how this influenced my upbringing. And how i was involved with social services from day one. I discussed various issues like My First Foster Care Placement, My Second Foster Care Placement, Being a Medicated Mess and My Story of being sectioned under the mental health act As well as other stories I’ve recently written about in the past and I also disclosed some exclusive information I’m still not ready to talk about personally in my blog just yet.
There were some really painful parts where i could feel the troubled and traumatised Child / adolescence I once was and i constantly had to fight my previous urges in therapy where i would shut myself out from the audience and not allow anyone in, I was scared, and reliving a time i wish never happened. But was it worth it?
Once I had finished my speech and sat down at the interview panel, there were a lot of congratulations and applauds. I answered some questions; I had congratulations from professionals and sorries from people who could relate to the treatment I had because of practices certain sectors have. And other people who mentioned that there should be way more speakers like me who will use their bad background to use as a tool of hope. But most of all, everyone i spoke to thought I was brave.
So was it worth it? – despite the amount of negative energy and impact the event had on me. i picked myself back up and brushed myself down after a few days of self care and reminders that i was not that person anymore and I’ve made so many achievements since i was ready to get back to my usual self. And all the feedback and opportunities I’ve received since have been massive.
i got some amazing reviews and feedback as displayed before and I have been asked to present at another conference from Open Forum Events / Children And Young Peoples Mental Health: The Path To Recovery
I’ve met amazing people and learned new things, and I’ve pushed myself out their more.
Feedback From the event
So that’s why I’ve not really been releasing posts or new articles as I’ve been trying to expand my area of reach. But I hope to get back in the swing of it soon.