This year The Care Leavers Association will be holding its National Gathering and AGM on Saturday 19th of November in Manchester. I am pleased to be able to announce that we will be joined by the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Donna Ludford. The reason we asked the Lord Mayor to come along is that she grew up in care in Manchester, so she is a fellow care leaver. Donna became the Mayor of the city in May of this year and she has been very open about her background in care. She went into care at the age of six months and lived in twenty different homes, either foster care or children’s homes, around the city. She also went to 12 different schools. She has worked in Manchester all her life and is a parent and grandparent, raising her children in the city. We have asked Donna to speak about her experience in care and her journey to becoming Mayor of her home city. I am sure it will be a fascinating experience for all of us.

The overall theme for our National Gathering this year is ‘Resilience’. This will fit well with our hearing from Councillor Donna Ludford about her journey from care leaver to Lord Mayor. However, we know that ‘resilience’ comes in many forms and we want to hear your varied experiences of dealing with the challenges of adult life after growing up in care. This will be our first in-person meeting for a number of years, due to the effects of the covid pandemic. We therefore want to celebrate and enjoy meeting up in person again, reflecting on the challenges and successes of the last few years. As ever, our National Gathering will have a strong focus on simply meeting up and talking to each other.

As well as talking about experiences of ‘Resilience’, we will also have space during the afternoon for people to share their experiences of the last few years. If you are attending, there will be a 5–10-minute space for you to share your reflections on surviving the Covid lockdowns and the pandemic more generally. If you would like to share your experiences but cannot attend in person, then you can send in a written submission which will be read aloud.

As usual, we will also provide updates on our recent work on behalf of care leavers. As well as this, we are going to have space for a discussion of the issue of care leavers and parenting. We know that parenting issues are of concern to many adult care leavers and we want your views on what the CLA should be doing on this subject. Please come along and help us to develop our policy and campaign material for this important issue.

We invite you to join us from 1:30 p.m. onwards for a buffet lunch. The event will start at 2pm. We will hold our Annual General Meeting part of the afternoon, which usually takes about half an hour, towards the end of the day. For that part of the meeting, all members can vote on specific issues about how the CLA works. It will be held at The Friends Meeting House in Manchester.

Do please let us know if you will be coming to the lunch and National Gathering by emailing info@careleavers.com

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