Kidlington’s Sarah says being in care should never stop someone fulfilling their dreams

Sarah James from Kidlington has spent the last six years of her life in care and has recently turned 18. She’s got her sights set on entering the nursing profession and speaks passionately about how being in care should set no limit on being ambitious life.

Currently studying for the diploma at the City of Oxford College that will allow her to practice as a Paediatric Nurse – she says it is no co-incidence that she wants to enter a profession that involves care for children.

Having benefited from being in the care of Oxfordshire County Council and the Oxford based children’s charity Parasol, she started to volunteer for the same charity and is now a member of staff.

“I want to be a nurse because care has been a huge part of my upbringing and I enjoy watching young people who benefit from the work of the charity progress and improve,” said the former Wheatley Park and Gosford Hill pupil.

“We provide trips out that they would not ordinarily be able to get on. I used to benefit from the charity, now I help it with its activities. I get to see the young children develop and they can see me as a role model because I used to be in their position.

Children in Care Council

Sarah is also a Deputy Chair of Oxfordshire County Council’s Children in Care Council and has been working with the national Department for Education on various projects. “I love getting other young people involved with the Children in Care Council. It’s an amazing way of providing inspiration and support to children in care. It’s very rewarding work.”

The Children in Care Council (CiCC) is a group of children and young people with experience of being in care. They help improve how children are cared for in Oxfordshire. 

The CiCC helps make sure Oxfordshire County Council lives up to the promises it made to look after children and young people in care, as best as they can. This is called ‘Corporate Parenting’, and there is a Corporate Parenting Panel which works with the Children in Care Council to make sure adults hear what children and young people are saying and do something about it.

Follow your dreams

Sarah recently celebrated her 18th birthday by going out for a meal with her foster parents in Kidlington and is now looking forward to progressing her career in to her adult life.

Her message to children in care is simple: “No matter what your situation or where you come from there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. It may not be in sight - but I promise you that it is there. My advice is to keep pushing, aiming and following your dreams. You’ll receive support from the council who are legally your parents while you are in care.

“There really is no limit on what you can do if you’ve been in care. Ignore the negative things that some people might say. Don’t listen to the stereotypes – if you’ve been a child in care you can do anything you want.”

A good start in life

Lucy Butler, Director for Children’s Services at Oxfordshire County Council said: “We are very proud of Sarah. Our aim is to give all children a good start in life and that very much applies to children who have been in care. When a child comes in to care the council effectively becomes that child’s parent. It’s a responsibility that all of us – including our county councillors – take seriously. Sarah is a true example of what children who have been in care can achieve. She’s no longer a child in care – she’s now a care leaver with her whole life ahead of her and ambitions to fulfil. We will monitor her progress with great interest.