Following the launch of a brand new film by Inspired Youth in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council, we talk to the man behind the script, Jonny Hoyle. “Changing The Narrative” is a short film that uses humour to get across a very serious message about the language professionals use with children in care and care leavers. Since its launch the film has been creating a buzz on Twitter. This is what Jonny had to say about his vision for the film and why he felt it was an important issue to address…
What’s your name and what does your job roll involve?
My name is Jonny Hoyle. I am a Care Leaver, a Social Worker and an Assistant Team Manager of a Leaving Care Team. I’m also the trustee of a charity called Coram Voice which is an advocacy charity for young people in and leaving care.
What was the inspiration for making the film and why is something like this needed?
The inspiration for the film was having a conversation with a young child in care not so long ago who told me that she enjoyed having contact with her mum. Social work lingo was something I always knew, and at times something I used but right at that moment I was gobsmacked and knew we needed to do something about it.
It would have been easy for us to make something that moaned about it or that said it wasn’t good enough etc etc but I much prefer to campaign in a positive way which is why we hooked up with Inspired Youth.
What difference do you think it will make?
I hope that people will watch the film, will enjoy the good natured humour in it and will then use the lessons they learn from it to think about their practice and their use of language – ultimately to not use some of the stigmatising words and phrases which have led to us making the film. Ultimately what I hope is that our children and young people in care will feel less like cases and numbers to us but will feel more like somebody we care about – which is exactly what they are!
What impact does the use of language you highlighted have on children and young people in care?
I think when we use legal terms or insensitive terms it highlights to children that we are at work and that our interactions with them are as part of our job when for most social workers that isn’t the case. Most of us are here because we care deeply about children and want them to be safe and well cared for.
If we can get it right and use more and more “normal” terms I hope that this helps children and young people build relationships with us and see us as people who care about them.
Why did you chose to work with inspired youth and what was the process like?
I knew what I wanted to do but I had no idea how to go about it. I knew I wanted the piece of work to be creative and wanted it to be positive and having seen Inspired Youth’s work before I knew they were absolutely the right people to make this a reality.
Having met them they were so open to the ideas I had and helped me think it through into what would be possible and practical. We had a really tight timescale but they were clear that they wouldn’t compromise on the quality of the final piece of work.
What is the key message you want the film to carry ?
I really want the films message to be that by using more normal language we can make a huge difference to how children and young people feel. It doesn’t cost any more money and doesn’t take any more time so why on earth wouldn’t we?
What was the reaction to the films world premiere at the care leavers can conference?
The reaction to the film was absolutely breathtaking. The film was designed to be played to Social Workers rather than care leavers but we premiered it at our #CareLeaversCan conference to a theatre full of Care Leavers who absolutely loved it. I was at the front facing the audience and was speechless at their reaction. I am really proud of the film and proud to have made it with Inspired Youth who share my ethos of turning pain into positivity and making good quality material that people will engage with.
What are you aspirations for the film, where do you want it to be seen and by who ?
One of the things we were adamant about was that once made the film would be free to everybody to use. We want the film to be shown far and wide to Social Work Students, Social Workers and anybody who works with people. We would love for people to think about it and the message it carries and to use it as a positive force for change. Inspired youth have put it on their youtube channel and it has received a huge amount of support from the Social Work community already.