Introduce yourself please…
My name is Danny Innes. I was part of Springboard, I did music4care. I was in care for 5 and a half years, I left when I was 18. At first I stayed with a mate, then in a B&B then went into a hostel, before getting my own place and I have lived there ever since.
Do you mind telling us the reasons you went into care?
I lived with my mum and my brothers. My mum got evicted and I was the youngest so I had to go into care. Then we moved in with my mum’s mum, but I moved back to York because I didn’t like it down there. Because I was the youngest I couldn’t go with my brother. So I had to go into care, and he went into a hostel.
How did you feel about going in care?
At first I didn’t like it. I used to cry and I used to… I ran away a few times. After a few weeks I actually got to know them, and they became new members of my family. I just stuck to it, just to see how it went and I enjoyed it.
“At first I didn’t like it. I used to cry and I used to… I ran away a few times”
Whats your favourite childhood memory?
Childhood memory? It’s quite a hard one that, probably being with my family, or being with my brothers together = because I don’t really see my brothers anymore. I see one of them but thats it… yeah my brothers, being with my brothers and my family.
What is your biggest achievement?
Going into care actually sorted my life out because I was getting into trouble a lot with the police. It was going in care really that sorted me out.
“It was going in care really that sorted me out. “
Overall, what has your care experience been like?
It sorted me out, I got to know people, I got opportunities, doing stuff like this. It was good.
Has your past had a positive or negative effect on your future?
Positive, I didn’t want to leave care, when it came to the time = I didn’t want to go.
If you had the choice, would you have stayed longer?
I had the choice to leave when I was 16 but I chose to stay.
What has driven you?
Going in care for a start. I got my life back on track. I finished school, I went to college, then I got a job, my own place…
I got my life back on track. I finished school, I went to college, then I got a job, my own place”
If you didn’t go in care do you think you would have finished school and gone to college?
I was getting in trouble with the police a lot, because when mum and dad split up, it kinda like… sent me down the wrong path. I was always a daddy’s boy and I didn’t see him so it upset me.
Who is your role model?
I kinda look up to my Dad, and my brother – Dean. We’ve brought each other up.
What keeps you going?
Just working hard.
Have you ever felt like giving up?
When I first went in care I did yeah. But after that, no. I just kept on going, moving forward.
How much have you changed since you left care?
There is a big difference, I feel more confident in myself. Some kids feel like because they have been in care they don’t think they have got a life. They feel like just because they have been in care they have no way of achieving things. People say “look at him his been in care” do you know what i mean? There is a future out there for you, just believe in yourself. Just because you have been in care doesn’t mean you have changed, it just means you’ve changed who you live with.
“There is a future out there for you, just believe in yourself”
Do you think you were ever judged or labeled for being in care?
No one really gave me grief, no. My friends just stuck by me. Obviously they asked questions and stuff, they knew what I went through, they didn’t treat me any different.
When did you start to believe in yourself?
Me and my brother brought ourselves up, we’ve always been independent, I could do my own cooking and cleaning and that. I have never stopped believing I can go further in life.
Did you ever feel alone?
Sometimes I did. When I first went into care I felt like that no-one was there. Me and Dean stuck together, but he wasn’t there, I couldn’t talk to him. It annoyed me, I used to get angry. I’d kick things or shout, run away, whatever… I didn’t know how to say it, kinda thing… I couldn’t see him, it wound me up.
“Me and Dean stuck together, but he wasn’t there, I couldn’t talk to him”
Did your foster parents help you?
They pushed me to finish school, and college. They did a lot for me. Kev used to sit on a night and educate me, support me, go through things.
“They pushed me to finish school, and college. They did a lot for me”
What’s your message to children in care?
Believe in yourself, there is a future out there for you. just because you have been in care, nothings going to change. Don’t listen to people if they give you grief.
If you had a message for an angry 15 year old at that cross roads, where you were – getting in trouble, what would you say to them?
It depends on the life they have had up until the point they came into care, but just believe in yourself. Get your head down and get through it.
What was it like when you first went into care?
It was strange I didn’t know the foster carers I didn’t know their sons who lived with them, I didn’t know anyone so it felt cheeky getting a drink and things like that. I felt like I was stealing from the fridge, I just felt cheeky. One foster care home was in the middle of nowhere. Me and my brother ran away. The first one – we were there a week and then we ran away. Me and Dean, we overheard them talking about separating us and we didn’t want that, so we ran away. After 2 days they found us and still separated us, but we were both in York so I still saw him, I found a way. It turned out alright.
“Me and Dean we overheard them talking about separating us and we didn’t want that, so we ran away”
If you could change anything about your life what would it be and why?
Go tho school more, not get in trouble with the police, when mum and dad and split up i went off the rails a bit. If i went to school and learned a bit more.
In the difficult moments what kept you going?
Seeing my brothers and my family and their support, things like that.
Do you think professionals took that on board?
I don’t know, because it was important – me and dean. We brought each other up and we told them that. Once Dean went off the care system they didn’t help him, you know with his flat and… he didn’t know what to do with his flat and bills and things like that. They kind of dumped him. I stayed in longer, got info, more support. I kept my flat and managed. Its better staying longer, getting more guidance and advice about living on your own.
How did it feel proving people wrong?
People go down the wrong path, some of my friends did, ended up in prison. I do try and tell them ‘choose the right path’. I got kicked out of school in year 9 but i turned it around. I got specialist support, they helped me catch up with my education, it gave me confidence. If I didn’t go in care I wouldn’t have got there. They put me onto that.
You said you ran away, what was it like?
It was funny at the time, we jumped the train. The first time it was in Kettering, it’s London, it’s a big place…We used to jump out of the window at mums, she rang social services, I’ll never forget that. She said, “I want to put my 2 sons in care.” Social services sent us down to York on a train on our own. We had a laugh like, we knew how to look after each other. We knew how to stick up for ourselves.
“I’ll never forget that. She said I want to put my 2 sons in care”
What do you think about care now?
I still go see my foster carers. I still have that relationship with them, but every time I go round they are like “what’s going on are you moving in again? Have you come for your tea have you?” you know joking.
What challenges have you had?
Keeping my flat, that’s your life, that’s your chance. Why would you lose that? It’s your roof over your head, it’s the start of your life. Having your own place is the most important thing. People feel damaged from their experiences, they feel like they have no confidence no aspirations, I always wanted more than that. I tried keeping away from people who were bad influences so I didn’t get linked in, just did my own thing. I’ve got my own place now and I wanted to keep that.
How do you become successful despite a care background?
Just believe in yourself, believe you can do it. I don’t think you realise when you come though care, how much you overcome. I don’t think I do but I’m proud of myself.
What is your message to professionals and foster carers?
I don’t know how to say it. Just listen to them, don’t guess what they have been through. Listen to them, write it down. My first social worker, I told her everything, then my second social worker she knew nothing. I didn’t understand why she didn’t know. Why did I need to say it again? I went mad. It shouldn’t be like that it shuts you down, you don’t want to tell your story over and over again.
“Just listen to them, don’t guess what they have been through”
Is there something you’re most proud of?
Music4Care. It was a big thing, probably the biggest thing I’ve done. Going to the houses of parliament, wearing a suite, picking the award up – you know things like that. I’ve never experienced that before.
“Going to the houses of parliament, wearing a suite, picking the award up”
It’s like my voice is out there, my face, my story – and it reflects other kids experiences. Kids in care relate to it. If they watch the video they realise that people care, because some of them think people don’t care about them because they are in care, but they do. There is a life out there for them, they just have to believe in themselves.