We're so excited to be talking to one of Juno's Young Leaders, Sherrie, for this week's Q&A blog. She spoke about what attracted her to join the Young Leaders group and her experience working with Juno.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m Sherrie, I grew up in foster care and I’m a member of the Juno Young Leaders group. I have a little boy who takes up most of my time, and I enjoy taking him to the farm where we can stroke the pigs.
How did you become involved with the Young Leaders and what has your experience been like?
I became involved with the Young Leaders after seeing an advert on social media. I grew up in care and was aware of the systemic problems, so making changes to the care system really appealed to me. I also liked the idea of a community of other care-experienced young people – at the first meeting everyone was lovely, and I’ve just kept coming back.
Being part of the Young Leaders has been interesting, it’s a mix of different environments. Some of them are casual and social, and others are really professional – I have attended recruitment days and presented at a Juno Board meeting. This has been a great experience as I’ve had such a long time out of the professional environment, so getting back into it and feeling competent has given me confidence. I feel like everyone at Juno really appreciates the Young Leaders’ point of view and understands that our lived experience holds a lot of value. The Board is really invested in building a relationship with the Young Leaders group and listening to our thoughts and ideas.
I really appreciate how inclusive and accessible Juno is. I have a little one and sometimes I struggle with going outside; the team has been really flexible with meeting online or helping to arrange transportation. I really appreciate having a professional space where I don’t feel any lesser because of my mental health.
What excites you the most about working with Juno?
I love that we get to do all sorts of different things, meet and work with different people who are very knowledgeable in what they do. Everybody works together so well to create a space that’s so important and necessary.
I really enjoy taking part in the recruitment process and seeing the people who want to work at Juno. Being able to meet them, get a sense of who they are and see how they interact with young people, whether they’re comfortable to be around – it’s been great to offer our opinions and have them considered when decisions are made. The people working at Juno will have a huge impact on the young people’s lives and improving that experience as much as possible is what we’re mainly focussed on.
How would you describe what Juno is looking to achieve?
I feel like Juno wants to stop the monetisation of children in care – make sure that these young people that are living through something hard aren’t just a paycheck for huge companies. They’re learning from lots of negative past experiences of people who lived in care and those working in the sector and making improvements. I think they have a really positive approach to care, looking with empathy at young people, aiming to understand what their experiences are and how to make sure they are happy, healthy, safe, and loved.
What about the challenges? What’s going to be hard for Juno, and how should we be addressing that?
Juno is taking a different approach to most residential care homes, and this is bound to be met with complications. It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen, but the important thing is that the Juno team is happy to take on feedback and learn from it to make a positive change.
What are your hopes for residential care in the future?
I hope that in the future residential care can become a place of rest, healing, and empowerment. Young people need to be shown what a healthy loving relationship and home are as things become more difficult and complicated as you become an adult. You need to have a base level of awareness of what healthy, safe relationships look like to know when something isn’t right – these experiences are so important to everyone, but especially children in care. And knowing how to draw boundaries and say what you really feel without the fear of losing your home.
I hope that residential care will help young people build a strong foundation of self-appreciation, an understanding of consent, and a community that will support them.
Are you interested in joining the Juno Young Leaders? Get in touch with the group coordinator Dan: firstname.lastname@example.org