“We just want you to show us that you care.”
The heartfelt words of ‘Hackney Child’ author Jenny Molloy cut across social work theories, research and procedures to reach what really matters: the happiness of the looked-after child.
Jenny, who uses the pen name Hope Daniels, was talking at the University of Strathclyde’s HASS (Humanities and Social Sciences) public lecture. She spent most of her childhood in care, and is now a married mother, grandmother and care leaver.
Her book (written with Morag Livingstone) is a moving account of a childhood spent with parents who were unable to cope. Young Hope and her three brothers fought for a basic survival, until it all became too much.
Jenny’s presentation about a childhood growing up neglected by addict parents affected everyone present. She is grateful to the social workers who helped rescue her from her situation, describing them as “beautiful angels”. However, Jenny regularly struggles to come to terms with her traumatic childhood, seeking help for an alcohol addiction at 32. “I could never sit in a room or in a house by myself for a minute, ever. It was like a washing machine going off in my head. I’d feel abandoned…lost.”
She spent much of her time as a mother terrified that a social worker would come to take her children away from her. “As a parent, you’re always worried about your kids – are they going to fail because I’ve been in care?”
Yet throughout her harrowing experiences, her compassion for her parents, who also grew up in care, endured: “Having a resentment with someone is like drinking poison and expecting them to die.” Although she admits it isn’t easy. “I used to think I would just forgive my parents and that would be enough…I still have to re-forgive my Mum on a regular basis.”
Above all, Jenny raised crucial questions about relationships and the need to express care. “Why on earth wouldn’t you give the most simple act of kindness to a vulnerable child who’s been let down, who’s in pain? Give them a cuddle!”
Professor Andrew Kendrick, Head of the School for Social Work and Social Policy, says: “We were delighted to have Jenny talk at our public lecture. She is a powerful and inspiring speaker, and I’m sure that even the most seasoned professional was wondering how they could take the messages from her presentation back into their practice.”
Read Jenny’s blog at www.hackneychild.co.uk
Picture courtesy of www.hackneychild.co.uk