I want to change the outcomes for Care Leavers and this means changing social consciousness and stereotypes. Provided I can raise enough funds, I hope to research ‘The Representation of Care Leavers in Literature'.
I began my research journey many years ago when I too grew up in care. For those that go through the state system, they know that this experience never leaves you.
This research has a literary purpose, a social purpose, which will comment on what happened to care leavers in the seventies and is still happening in society now; it is an important story that needs to be told.
IN BRIEF: I began the PhD journey when I attended Lemn Sissay's 'From Pip to Potter', at Southbank in February, 2012. This event highlighted the stark differences in the way literature presents cared-for children and orphans, compared to the experiences of children in those circumstances in the real world. I was so inspired, I decided I would investigate further.
A care leaver who at sixteen is left without home or support has to change in order to survive. The narrative looks at how care leavers have been represented, in the past, present and what the possibilities could be for a positive future.
I want to examine this research through the lens of both creative and critical practice. This means that I will write an autobiographical novel and a critical thesis.
‘Hiraeth’ is an autobiographical novel. Hiraeth has no word in English. It is a Welsh word meaning homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was.
There does not appear to be any critical research about care leavers in literature.
The creative piece will explore my own experiences of leaving care as well as considering the positive aspect that reading fiction has had on my life.
I NEED YOUR HELP!
I have been accepted to study for my PhD at Southampton University and began my research in September (2015). A PhD is an expensive undertaking (the tuition fees currently stand at £3996 per year full-time). As I was unable to secure funding through traditional routes I have decided to try and crowd-fund the tuition fees for my first year by raising £1998 from donations and to work part-time.
This research like the social novels of Charlotte Brontë or Charles Dickens, could challenge the ‘state’ quo, and illuminate the voiceless, the marginalized care leavers of society. If I can begin the process of challenging the stereotypes of care leavers as drug addict, homeless, or in prison, I will be adding a new voice to the critical and creative collective consciousness. This will broaden dialogue and possibly create a new cultural identity for care leavers.
WHAT YOU WILL GET IN RETURN
(Aside from the knowledge that you are making a huge difference to the life of not just me, but possibly also thousands of care leavers)
1. Your name will be included in my PhD acknowledgements (unless you wish to remain anonymous).
2. I will make myself available via email to answer any questions you may have about ECLCM or the research I am conducting (within reason).
3. I will set up a new website dedicated to my research into The Representation of Care Leavers in Literature with regular articles and information uploaded.
4. This new website will also contain regular video blogs from care leavers challenging the stereotypes.
5. In the autobiographical novel ‘Hiraeth’, I will include your name in the acknowledgements.
6. I will organise a conference around ‘The Representation of Care Leavers’, and invite writers from cross-curricula fields of study including care leaver writers as well as all the funders.
7. Once my PhD is completed I will host a social gathering in London for all funders.
8. I’ll keep funders up to date with my progress via newsletters that will be sent via email.
I write about the PhD journey and review books about orphans, foster care and care leavers here: Care Leavers in Fiction
Follow me on Twitter: @Rosie_Canning