40 years ago this week, I landed in the UK, alone, still only 18, with my life packed into a small, battered suitcase. I had no plan, just a promise to keep as many miles as possible between me and my parents. (Thread) 1/
It was a rubbish time to come to England to try your luck. This was Thatcher’s Britain, with millions out of work. I spoke poor English and had no qualifications after dropping out of school. 2/
But I hustled my way into jobs, stacking shelves, clearing gardens and working in a print shop. I lived in digs with the sweetest, older couple who treated me with kindness. I even returned briefly to school. 3/
I began writing for the local paper, the Hayling Islander, covering golden wedding anniversaries and fetes. I got around town on an old red postie’s bike held together with wire and sticky tape. Then another local paper offered me an actual job. 4/
Eventually, I blagged my way into The Times. I expected to last just a few months before being found out, but ended up staying for almost 25 years. 5/
My greatest fortune was meeting some amazing people early on, including my wife-to-be. She was there when I couldn’t afford to pay the rent and or find work. But she has always believed in me. 6/
She is by my side now, mum to two daughters, a grandmother and a ’mum’ to 20 foster children, most of whom are still part of our large, rumbustious family. 7/
I realise this is a shit time to be young and uncertain. These days remind me of when I pitched up here, all those years ago, overwhelmed at times by what the future may hold. 8/
I know that one day you too will look back, with no small amount of wonder, and see how it all panned out for you and your loved ones. FWIW, my advice is to find people you can trust and love, and keep plugging away at what you believe. 9/
Stay true to yourself. But if you can’t, remember that you can always find your way back. And don't take no for an answer. 10/ends

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More from @MartinBarrow

22 Jul
This children's home in Oldham, run by Cambian, one of the biggest private companies. Ofsted inspectors visited because of a small fire. What they actually found is just awful. 1/
21 incidents of children going missing since January.
The company does little more than collect its fees at the end of the week. 2/
The company tries to buy the children with up to £3 a week of pocket money.
Spoiler alert: it doesn't end well. 3/
Read 12 tweets
26 Jun
A document has come across my desk from Oxfordshire County Council, with opportunities for private providers of foster care and children’s homes. Not confidential, but not widely circulated. An insight into the dysfunctional ‘market’ for these services. 1/
As you read this, bear in mind that Oxfordshire is a relatively affluent county and the county council is considered to be well managed. This is no outlier. 2/
Despite this, the proportion of children in care unable to remain in Oxfordshire, close to their families, has increased from 25% to 40%. 3/
Read 13 tweets
18 Jun
With a great sense of timing CareTech, our biggest for-profit private provider of foster care and children's homes, has reported profits for the latest six months. No better way to demonstrate how taking children into care has become a hugely, profitable business. 1/
In just six months the company has increased profits by 25% to £25.9 million. Local authorities paid the company fees of £208.5 million, an increase of 8%. 2/
See also how shareholders are rewarded with a 7% increase in the dividend. This comes out of those fees paid by local authorities for care and support. Investors rewarded while vulnerable families go without. 3/
Read 9 tweets
17 Jun
The National Association of Fostering Providers is ALWAYS at the top table when government or local authorities talk about foster care. So what is @theNAFP ? 1/
It claims to be 'not for profit'. But its sole purpose is to help its members increase their share of the foster care 'market' and to earn more profits. 2/
A small number of members are charities/not for profit. But the vast majority are run for profit. Most children in NAFP care are with agencies owned by private equity firms. 3/
Read 10 tweets
16 Jun
There's a straight line from the Government's refusal to fund free school meals this summer to the big businesses now responsible for children in care.

Withdraw support from vulnerable families = bigger profits for friends in private equity. 1/
These are the companies who make a profit when children are taken into care 2/
They don't see or care about poverty and deprivation in our neighbourhoods. Because they are located in tax havens, as far as possible from poverty and despair 3/
Read 6 tweets
22 Apr
Shares in CareTech, the UK's biggest private provider of children's homes and foster care, jumped today after the company said #COVID19 has been good for business. 1/ Image
Turns out the company's profits are going to be 'in line with City expectations' pre-pandemic, unlike pretty much every other business in the UK 2/
The company has told local authorities that it is putting up the rates it charges to find homes for children and young people in care by 5% from April 1. This will cost LAs millions of pounds. Cos, why not? 3/
Read 10 tweets

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