A free resource to help care experienced young people “reclaim their stories” has been launched to mark Care Day 2024.

The new journal, called My Journey, is intended to support those aged twelve and over to record important information about themselves and their experiences, and those behind it hope to see every care-experienced young person in Scotland receive a copy. A digital version will also be available.

The materials were produced through a partnership between Aberlour Children’s Charity, Barnardos, and Highland Council, and created in consultation with young people who have grown up in contact with the care system.

The journal is divided into six sections, with each focused on a different aspect of the young person’s identity or development. It contains space for biographical information, family history, personal feelings and preferences, and future goals.

There are also pages dedicated to storing details of ‘important meetings’, ensuring the existence of a record that comes from the perspective of the young person themselves.

The penultimate section of the journal is titled ‘Moving on and living independently’ and has been designed to support young people approaching the end of their time in care.

Producing the journal is part of the work being carried out as a result of The Promise, an initiative to transform the experiences of young people in contact with care system in Scotland. Inspired by the findings of the Independent Care Review in 2020, The Promise seeks to ensure that all children ‘grow up loved, safe and respected’ and able to realise their full potential.

The My Journey journal relates directly to two of the five foundations of The Promise: the importance of listening to children’s voices, and the need to provide effective support structures.

For Lyndon, who was one of the people involved in developing the journal, allowing young people to record their own experiences is an important step forward: “When I left care I didn’t take anything with me. I had no files when I left. I think it took years before I actually was able to get all my files, and when I did get them none of it was anything that I said or remembered – it was all in other people’s words.”

Another of those who helped create the new book, who wished to be referred to as Biz, stressed that it should be seen as something belonging to young people themselves: “It’s not a workbook that has to be done with staff or anything like that. This is their own personal book to do as they like to do it, if they want to do it. I think that’s really important.”

Kelly Blackmore, Service Manager at Aberlour’s YouthPoint Moray service and head of the ‘My Journey’ project, said: “We couldn’t think of a better day to launch this empowering book. This journal will enable Scotland’s care leavers to document their histories, thoughts, and goals in their own words."

The Herald:

In anticipation of the launch of the My Journey book, we asked a few questions of some of those involved in developing the resource.

Why is the new journal needed? What is the gap it is filling?

It’s about having something that they can take the things that are important to them with them throughout their life.

Sometimes when they’re moving to different places they might lose so much, and they might go to these places with nothing, so this book gives them the opportunity to take their own information and keep it with them. They don’t have to try and go through loads of people to try to get information about different things that they might need.

And it gives them an opportunity as well, when they’re in meetings – because a lot of the young people have to go to a lot of meetings – they can take their own notes about things because a lot of people are taking notes about them. So they can record things in a way that they understand and be able to speak to other people about it, if they wanted to, because they’ve got their own notes to help.


Some people might expect that the system would already do this for young people, but that isn’t necessarily the case?

A lot of the information is gathered for them but this gives the opportunity to have a little bit of control, and it can also be difficult to access that information depending on what it is – where they live they might not be able to just ask someone ‘do you have the information for this person I used to be close to?’ It might need to go through various channels like different workers and things like that which mean it can’t be immediately given to them.

But with this book they’d be able to have that sort of information. Sometimes information can be lost as well, depending on different care plans and all sorts of paperwork being passed between different workers or different people looking after them. When you leave care as well you can take that book with you, whereas when you leave care you’ve got to get in contact with certain people to get information, which can take a lot of time.


So the information is out there but isn’t always easy to bring together, and the book looks to help with that?

Definitely. And a lot of it is in other people’s point of view and this gives them the opportunity to have their own voice. It’s not in someone else’s words – they can put it down on paper how they like.

The thing with the book is that it’s trying to cover so many issues across the whole journey. The care system has so many things that need worked on so part of the book is letting people know that, you know, you do have rights, or if you have issues you can contact WhoCares Scotland? Just different things that they might not know or might not have access to.

To request free copies of the “My Journey” journal, please contact Liz Nolan at Aberlour via email liz.nolan@aberlour.org.uk