Key points from the Life Stories focus group

8 February 2021

two people looking at a photo album

On Tuesday 12 January 2021, a group of five Care Leavers met virtually with participation workers, in order to discuss their views on Life Story work and what should be included for children and young people who are in care. 

Life Stories is a way of working that can help children and young people who are in care or separated from their birth families maintain a good sense of their life journey and identity. The Life Story work can include photos, written accounts, meaningful items – or anything else than can go in an album or a memory box.

In addition to the focus group, two young people also answered some questions when chatting individually with their participation worker.

Here’s a brief summary of the suggestions you came up with:

Key items and memories to keep

  • Items from babyhood such as first clothes, shoes, hospital band, blankets and photos.
  • The red book – the knowledge of your birth weight, first words, first steps and reaching important milestones.
  • Photos, video and voice recordings of things including days out, family members and yourselves as children.
  • Original birth certificate
  • Treasured childhood toys or possessions. Not only as a memory, but also so that you can hand these down to your own children when the time comes.
  • School work or artwork that you’re proud of.
  • Actually visiting your previous homes and schools.

Who should contribute

  • You should be an important part of researching your Life Story and choose who should share memories, unless you’re too young to do so.
  • It would be helpful if social workers kept a list of all the 1-2-1 workers, teachers, carers, club leaders etc involved in your life. That way, when Life Story work is carried out, you can look through the list and pick out the people who were actually important to you – rather than this being done for you by the social worker who might miss out someone who made a great impact on you.

How should Life Story be presented

  • Life Story should be multi-media to employ all the senses – objects, photos, audio, video and visiting places
  • While it’s fine that some memories are just written down (for example, first words), a video or voice recording of someone talking about certain events would be good.
  • The memories should be presented as chronologically as possible.
  • Entries should include a photo of the person describing the memory – preferably this picture should be with you as well.
  • It is important that Life Story work is kept safe – storing it digitally might be preferable, so it is important to ask us. Physical items should be stored in a special case which will never be lost.
  • It should be possible to keep adding to Life Story work throughout your time in care.

Additional points

  • Life Story should be offered to all young people in care, or even if you’ve already left care.
  • There should be a dedicated worker to do Life Story as it is so important!
  • You should be able to say what you want to keep when you first go into care (including conversations around baby items etc) while it is still possible to get hold of those things.

If you’ve got any feedback on the suggestions above, or have any ideas of your own, please email us at participation@devon.gov.uk, speak to your local participation worker or DM us on Instagram or our Twitter.


So what’s being done?

Devon’s Principal Social Worker, Rachel Nall, has said that your feedback has acted as a strong reminder that Life Story work has no beginning and no end and is integral to how Devon supports you throughout your life.

And thanks to your contributions, Devon Children’s Social Care team have developed a helpful timeline for Life Story work. This maps out how and when items, stories and information will be collected. A toolkit containing helpful guides and templates for how the Life Story work should be carried out has also been created for all members of the team to use.


First published on 7 February 2021. Updated on 3 March 2021

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