B E R Y L
S E A M A N
My mother had always “done charitable works” and my father was a JP (Justice of the Peace, a magistrate) in Liverpool in the 1950’s. In my teens the new universities were offering sociology as a degree course and this seemed the obvious course to do but in fact I ended up at Nottingham University, reading Social Administration which meant I only had to do a one year Post-Graduate Diploma to become a fully qualified social worker – at the age of 22!
I chose Black bin bags because …
In 1974 I was working for Sheffield Family and Community Services (Social Services) with a generic case load (in other words, working with all client groups in a neighbourhood ‘patch’). I had a young black teenager under supervision to me and in residential care and when he turned 16 I moved him from the Children’s home to a bedsit in Hyde Park Flats (a big council estate near the centre of Sheffield – now private flats!)
When I collected him from the Home all his belongings were in a black bin liner. I had a few items to help him set up his new flat but it was sparsely furnished and I remember leaving him there all alone with his bin liner.
I look back now and shudder at how naïve I was to think I gave him anything approaching adequate support and the black bin liner sums this up. I do remember later there was a charity set up to provide suitcases for Care Leavers.