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The IMO Podcast has been nominated for Best New Podcast in the British Podcast Awards. In this blog we take a look at why we started the podcast, how we went about making it, and highlight some of the guests we’ve spoken to.

IMO (which stands for ‘in my opinion’) is a spin off website hosted by the Children’s Commissioner, and it gives a place for care experienced children and young people to tell their stories.

We felt there was an opportunity to give care leavers a space to tell their stories on their own terms.

You might look at me and not think of me as your stereotypical looked after child, but what does that look like and why do you have those preconceptions?

Louise, Series two episode one

First and foremost we wanted the process of taking part to be an enriching and enjoyable one for our contributors. We wanted them to end up with something that they were really proud of.

We didn’t want to shy away from complex issues, but we also wanted, with each interview, to give a nuanced portrait of that person – not simply to define them by their care status. Amongst the serious issues there’s joy and laughter. We felt strongly that the IMO podcast should be a place where people are free to be themselves.

We hoped the interviews would be helpful for other care experienced children and young people who are going through similar things, so they can draw on these conversations to find inspiration and hope.

And for any professionals listening, we wanted the to be instructive first hand testimonies which shine a light on both good and bad practice.

How each podcast is created

Before we record, we have an initial conversation with potential guests to explore they kind of things they want to talk about. We talk through the consent process and we then go away and give that person time to think about if they want to take part or not. People can change their mind anytime – including during and after recording.

We are led by each guest about if they want to use their real name or not. One of our principles is that this is their life, their story, and they have nothing to be ashamed of. We are conscious of not wanting to reinforce feelings of shame by insisting that they hide who they are.

Louise being interviewed for the IMO Podcast

Once we’re good to go, we either arrange to travel to meet our guests at a location they choose. Or we invite them to London to record in a studio in Soho.

After the interview is complete, we give our guests time to reflect and if they choose, they can sign-off on the episode before it’s published.

The stories in each series

In series one we spoke to Ella who talked about the criminalisation of young people in care, Ryan who talked about reading his files, Nathanial and Victoria who told us about sibling contact, Rhianna who spoke about being a child with HIV in England and Steven, who is training to be a social worker.

In series two we hear from Louise about mental health and post graduate support and Charlotte who talks about moving into semi-independence.

Listen to the trailer for series two

Each episode we’re struck by the fortitude and resilience of our contributors. Time and time again the episodes reveal the importance of secure and stable long term attachment relationships, be it foster carers or social workers. And across each series you get a real sense of the disparity between people’s experiences. As Ella puts is, all she wants if for people to leave care not worse off than when they started.

We would like to thank all our guests for sharing their stories with us.

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