Jakeb Arturio Braden worked for The Care Leavers Association (CLA) from 2014 to 2017. He was the key worker on an important, pathfinding project funded by the UK’s Department of Health. That project examined the health issues facing care leavers of all ages. Amongst other results, the project received survey responses from over 400 care leavers and over 200 professionals. It was a demanding and wide-ranging piece of work that provided strong evidence of many neglected adult health issues related to growing up in care.
Jakeb fully appreciated the project’s significance. He cared deeply about the health issues, both physical and mental, that many care leavers, of all ages, face. As a result, he inspired confidence in many of the care leavers and professionals he met. I still vividly recall a project meeting we held with fellow care leavers in Birmingham, in 2016. It was one of several that Jakeb organised, in different parts of the country. Engaging directly with groups of care leavers was a central part of the project’s approach. I arrived late and the meeting was already well underway. Discussion was animated and productive. Jakeb’s approach, as a fellow care leaver, inspired a very enjoyable and rewarding event in which everyone shared their experiences of health issues connected to their care experience.
I also recall a meeting with about 100 health-related professionals, also in 2016, in Middlesbrough. David Graham (CLA National Director), Jakeb and I had driven up there, from Manchester, to explain to a wide range of people who worked with care leavers the importance of the issues they were dealing with. Again, Jakeb was able to impress the audience with his passion for the subject.
Jakeb put the same passion into the publication of our final report and into one of our most successful and popular publications, ’45 Care Leaver Friendly Ways’. This latter publication was a guide to how professionals and others could work with care leavers on health issues affecting them. It was very much Jakeb’s work and became one of the CLA’s most consistently requested and popular publications, regularly snapped up at any (pre-pandemic) events we attended.
Alongside the health project, Jakeb also contributed to other areas of the CLA’s work. He kept in touch with us after leaving the CLA, when the funding for the health project ended. He had acquired his social care file and I recall him explaining to me how he was wrestling with its contents. In his life and work with us, he embodied the struggles many care leavers face in overcoming the legacy of their past. He also demonstrated the dignity and courage they often show in doing so.
(Chair, Board of Trustees, The Care Leavers Association)