An event to raise the profile of care leavers in society in honour of John Lennon was held at Liverpool John Moores this weekend at the University’s School of Art and Design.
The Beatles megastar was raised by his Aunt Mimi from the age of five until his late teens. He also attended the University’s School of Arts in 1957, with the John Lennon Art and Design Building, named in his honour.
With Yoko Ono, the university also set up the John Lennon Imagine Awards, offering financial and practical support to students who have been in care or are estranged from their families.
Statistics show young people who have grown up in care are more likely to die in early adulthood than other young people are, with care leavers facing greater challenges in gaining employment and qualifications, according to Freedom of Information figures.
The free public event on Saturday featured performances from well-known poets and playwrights, Lemn Sissay MBE and Louise Wallwein, both of whom grew up in care and have experienced the challenges young people in the care system face.
Lemn, the first poet to write for the Olympics, delivered the keynote speech at the event, with Louise performing her one-woman show ‘Glue’, detailing her first two meetings with her birth mother, 30 years after being put up for adoption.
Commenting on taking part, Lemn said: “I have always been determined to help more fellow care leavers into education, and LJMU clearly recognises the importance of this encouragement and engagement too.
“The university has an excellent support network to raise aspirations of care-leavers, and events like this can make a real difference.”
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The day also featured a dedicated exhibition area with advisors from local and national organisations who have supported those in care.
Professor Caroline Wilkinson, Director of the School of Art and Design, added: “This event further demonstrates how we at LJMU are committed to helping more care leavers go to university.
“The John Lennon Imagine Award of £1,000 per year exists to encourage care leavers and young people who are estranged from their families into higher education and while we know we have been successful in this aim, we must continue to raise awareness of opportunities for them at LJMU and in higher education as a whole.”
In addition to financial support, recipients of the Imagine Awards also receive a support package, designed to suit each young person’s needs.