Jonny Hoyle

Can you introduce yourself please?

Hello, my name is Jonny Hoyle and I am a 32 year old Care Leaver from Scarborough

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a care leaver from Scarborough but I am also a Social Worker and as well as this I have been the Chair of the board of Trustees for the charity A National Voice for 12 years!

I am very lucky in that I have received a number of awards for Making a Difference to the lives of children and young people and also as a Social Worker. In 2016 I was a finalist in the Social Worker of the Year awards.
I try to spend as much time as I can raising the profile of Looked After Children and Care Leavers and have been involved with parliamentary groups and the Social Work reform board as well as helping other charities like the Fostering Network.
 

I have received a number of awards for Making a Difference to the lives of children and young people and also as a Social Worker

 Do you mind telling us the reasons you went into care?

I had a difficult childhood and spent various periods of time living with other people (family and connected people) when I was in secondary school living at home broke down permanently and I went into foster care where I stayed until I left care (but still go back all the time).

What was it like when you first went into care?

I remember my first night very well. It was very scary. I was told that because it was so late in the day I was going to an emergency 1 night foster placement……..but I stayed there forever! I remember feeling out of control but was lucky to meet the most amazing foster carers. I remember sitting in the living room with my foster carers and the social worker who were sat reading through the paperwork about me and I remember not really knowing what to do, where to sit and even not knowing where I was exactly.

I remember feeling out of control but was lucky to meet the most amazing foster carers.

Overall, what has your care experience been like?

My experience of being in care was very very good. Like I said earlier I met my foster carers who were only supposed to look after me for one night but I never left until I left care. They have been the most amazing people to me and I still see them all the time. My children call them Nannie and Granddad and they have a lovely relationship with each other.

I was also lucky in that I had some very good social workers and managers who took the time to believe in me and to give me chances. They also told me off when I had done things wrong which I think is very important.

Most of all I was surrounded with, and supported by, people who really cared about me and who wanted to make sure that I succeeded in life.

What is your favourite childhood memory?

I guess my favourite childhood memory was when my brother was in a different foster placement and wasn’t allowed to come and live with me. I met the Assistant Director one day and told him what was happening and he arranged for my brother to come and live with me. Getting the news that he was coming to live with me was brilliant and once he was living with me he stayed until he left care too!

I was surrounded with, and supported by, people who really cared about me and who wanted to make sure that I succeeded in life.

What is your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement is making my own family. I have an amazing Fiancée and three lovely children who grow up in a happy home. Helping them grow up makes me happy and thankful every day.

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

At 32 I still face challenges every day. I think that everybody faces challenges and that’s where you rely on the people around you to help you get over them. These might be emotional, financial or practical challenges but staying focused on my goals has helped me get through tough times.

Has your past had a positive or negative effect on your future?

My past has had a positive and negative effect on my future. Overall it is positive but I still have some things that are more complicated because of my past.
I feel very lucky that I found amazing foster carers and that I was able to grow up with my bother who I am still very close to.
It’s important to remember that we all start from different points in life and that some of us have to work harder to get where we want to go but when we get there it feels much better knowing how hard you have worked for it!

I feel very lucky that I found amazing foster carers and that I was able to grow up with my bother who I am still very close to.

What has driven you?

My care experience was pretty good but growing up I saw a lot of children in care and care leavers who had had much harder lives than me and who struggled more. I got to meet care leavers from all over the country that wanted to change things and this drives me on. One of the things we did at A National Voice was to put pressure on Social Workers to stop moving children with their possessions in bin bags, called “This is not a suitcase”. Realising that changing something so small could make such a big difference to children really drives me on to keep pushing for positive changes to be made!

Who is your role model?

I have been blessed to meet so many role models. I can’t choose one so I’m going to choose three (I hope that’s ok).
The manager of my leaving care service inspires me every day. He genuinely cared about all of the care leavers he was responsible for and did his best to help all of them. He spent (and still spends) a lot of time giving me advice and guidance and is a large reason why I am in the position I am today.

One of the Personal Advisor’s in the leaving care team also spent time helping me learn to become an adult. He would talk to me and give me advice but overall I have used him as a role model of a hardworking man who genuinely cares and will do anything to help anybody out.

My third is my partner. She is the most wonderful parent to our children and has helped me be the parent I am. She supports me in everything I do and has made me so happy. She has had to put up with me and the things I still struggle with from my childhood but does this without blaming me and understands me and my little “quirks”

What keeps you going?

What keeps me going is knowing that I make a difference to children and young people. I love having the ability to make things better for others and feel really happy when I see this happening. I really enjoy my work and also enjoy giving so much of my time to charity. I hope that I have many more years of being able to make a difference.

It’s important to remember that we all start from different points in life

Have you ever felt like giving up?

Throughout my life there have been times when I have felt like giving up. Be it at college or in work when things have been tough. This is where I rely on the people around me to help me keep going. I think I am very lucky in that I look at my life and I’m very happy and this makes me more determined to keep going.

How much have you changed since you left care?

I think some things about me have changed since I left care but some things are still the same. People who know me know that I am cheeky and like to laugh a lot. I’m also an eternal optimist and like to see the best in people.

In other ways I have changed a lot and this comes from having a family. I feel like I have a responsibility to make sure that my children don’t have to worry about the things I worried about when I was a child.

Do you think you were ever judged or labelled for being in care?

I think there were times when I was judged for having been in care but I also think that there have been times when people have encouraged me even more because I was in care or because I was a care leaver.

When did you start to believe in yourself?

I don’t know when I started to believe in myself. When I was younger I didn’t have much self esteem but when I don’t think I can do something I think back to where I started and all the things I have achieved and this helps me keep going.

Did you ever feel alone?

There have been a lot of times when I have felt alone but these were when I was a child. Over time I have learnt that there are a lot of people who care about me and have learnt to talk to these people about things that trouble or upset me. Every time you talk to somebody and they help you it helps you learn that there are people who care about you.

Did your foster parents help you?

My foster carers still do help me! They have helped me become the man I am today, through everything from school, paying bills and becoming a parent. They are the most wonderful people and I feel very lucky to have found them.

What’s your message to children in care?

My message to children in care is that being in care doesn’t have to define you. You deserve better than what you have had and you can go on to be anything you want!! All you have to do is work hard and when life knocks you down (which it will) keep getting up!

being in care doesn’t have to define you

If you could change anything about your life what would it be and why?

I genuinely believe that I am a product of my life for good and bad. When I look at my life I am so happy so I don’t think I would change anything (except maybe my lottery numbers to winning one’s!!)

How did it feel proving people wrong?

Not as good as proving people right! By this I mean there were probably times when people thought I wouldn’t amount to much but there were so many people who kept pushing me to be the best I could be and the joy I have had in sharing all of the good things in my life with these people easily beats any of the negatives.

What do you think about care now?

Foster care is very different now. I still get to see foster care now and I’m pleased that it keeps getting better. That said, it’s not perfect and there are still lots of thing we can do to make it better.

How do you become successful despite a care background?

Being successful means different things to different people. Some people can be successful in earning lots of money, some people can be successful in addressing their mental health issues and some people can be successful by being good parents. The key to any of this is to work hard and to make sure that your past doesn’t define you.

What is your message to professionals and foster carers?

My message to professionals and foster carers is to get to know children, know what they like and dislike and also give them a little bit about you too. I always say children and young people won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Is there something you’re most proud of?

There are three things I am most proud of. The first is my family and especially my children.
The second is the changes I have been able to make on a local and national level to the care system and the people who work within the system.
The third are the care leavers I meet who go on to make the best of their lives regardless of the tough start we’ve had.