Ashley is 25 and from Glasgow. She has been involved in Let’s Talk Conflict, our podcast hosted by a group of young Care Experts. Ashley has also participated in Leap’s conflict training, and has supported in the delivery of Under our Roof, our programme supporting young people in care and their carers. Ashley shares her journey with Leap and the podcast below.

Getting involved with Leap and learning about co-production

In Summer 2020, I received an email offering me an opportunity to join a co-production project with Leap Confronting Conflict. The group was made up of young people with experience of the care system, and the purpose of the project was to design a resource to support young people in care. I really liked the sound of this, as I’m a creative person and highly interested in developing my skills in this area and supporting young people in the care system.

When the group first came together over Zoom, there were lots of discussions about what kind of resource we wanted to create, bearing in mind that we were all working remotely during the middle of the pandemic. We spoke about creating care package boxes, creating a Youtube channel, or developing a podcast.

The creation of Let’s Talk Conflict

We decided to create a podcast to support young people in the care system. A year later, we have released our first season made up of seven episodes! The podcast is called Let’s Talk Conflict, and you can listen to it on Spotify or Apple Podcasts – please do give it a listen and let us know what you think!

The episodes address different issues within the care system, exploring themes such as relationships, conflict and wellbeing. We share our own experiences of the care system and give advice for young people who are navigating some of the challenges involved with growing up in care. There are nine of us involved in the podcast in total, including two staff members from Leap, and we come from all across the UK. Over the time we have been working together, we have built a really strong and supportive community. I have loved the journey we have been on together, especially during lockdown which was a difficult time, it was great to be able to meet weekly online through Zoom. I really appreciate everyone within the group and would consider them as friends for life.

I wanted to do the podcast to share some of my own experiences growing up in care in order to highlight the issues that need to be changed. I want to be a role model and to prove that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your background is, it’s who you are as a person and what you do with your life that matters.

Building a safe and collaborative space

Leap Confronting Conflict in my eyes are a brilliant organisation. Throughout the podcast, it’s been a process of genuine co-production and collaboration. Leap have taken the time to listen to what the group feel and want. They have also been really supportive to myself and the group, for example when we have been discussing difficult topics such as relationships, it was agreed for the group to have additional wellbeing sessions facilitated by a Leap trainer, giving us the space to share and reflect in a safe environment.

Exploring new places and learning new skills

One of my personal highlights was visiting London to meet the group in person for the first time. Sadly, we had just lost one of the members of our group who had sadly passed away, but we agreed that we still wanted to meet each other and pay tribute to Will. I was really looking forward to meeting everyone, and overall it was amazing! I loved being in another city, and being with people I felt I had known for a long time – I made some great memories with great people.

Leap’s support has truly helped me with my confidence, which like so many others, I had lost due to lockdown. I got the chance to receive some of Leap’s conflict training, and it really gave me an insight into myself and how I react to conflict. They also provided me with a work opportunity to be involved in a partnership between Leap and Playing On theatre company. I got the chance to work as a Delivery Assistant on a drama project which was great – I felt like I gained so much experience and knowledge. This is the type of work I’m interested in doing more of in the future.

Through the podcast, the group got an opportunity with an organisation called Curious Monkey to deliver a live podcast in Newcastle at their event for care leavers. I had never been on stage in this way before, so it was a whole new experience to be myself and talk about subjects I am passionate about. I was really nervous as there was no editing – it was a one time thing. It went really well, and the round of applause afterwards I will never forget. I felt really proud to just be myself on stage. I was really thankful to have an opportunity like this which truly boosted my confidence. It was great to be in a room of such positivity, and speaking to other people I would have never met otherwise.

What’s next?

Back to the podcast, we are now in the planning stage for Season 2. I’m hoping it will be bigger and better than the first season, and also fingers crossed to get some exciting guests on to chat with us.

From receiving the first email about that project, I would never have thought it would have turned into creating a podcast like this. I’m so happy I joined the project. I’ve made so many memories and have had amazing opportunities. I’ve met some wonderful people and it wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for Leap and the group. I’m really looking forward to Season 2 and what that brings – stay tuned!