A woman who grew up in care has won a prestigious award for her documentary about young people in the care system.
Rebecca Southworth, who graduated from the University of Salford’s BA Television and Radio (BATAR) programme with a first class degree in 2015, has won a Royal Television Society NW Award for her BBC3 documentary Kicked Out: From Care To Chaos.
Rebecca (pictured) traced her own life as she went into social services care aged 13 and explored why so many young people end up living troubled lives after leaving the care system.
The 23-year-old, who produced and presented the deeply personal documentary for Manchester based production company Blakeway North, said: “It’s unbelievable to have won something like this even though I’ve just got out of university.
“The documentary has touched a lot of people. I’ve had an unbelievable amount of messages from young people who said they had watched it and it meant so much to them because it was exactly what they went through.”
Rebecca, who first began exploring these issues in a final year project, knows her experience of going on to study in higher education is rare.
She said: “A big part of the problem is care leavers are constantly told by society that we won’t amount to anything and that can put you off trying. I wanted to get across that I’ve come from the same place as the care leavers I was interviewing and it is possible to do something with your life.
“I was very fortunate because I had a stable foster family who encouraged and supported me, but university was still very hard because I lacked a lot of basic life skills. There were people at Salford who were amazing with the help they gave me.”
The University’s Arron Pile, who helped set up the National Network For The Education of Care Leavers, said: “Too often we concentrate on the negatives of being in care instead of some of the amazing things that care leavers such as Rebecca achieve.
“We still have a long way to go – only six per cent of care leavers aged 18-21 make it to university. This is due to many factors, some of which are portrayed in Rebecca’s film. Anything we can do as universities to encourage aspiration, we must make a priority.”
Debra Prinselaar, BATAR Programme Leader at the University of Salford, said: “Rebecca was a determined and accomplished student from the start. It is most unusual to have your talent recognised with such a prestigious award so early in a career and this honour is well deserved.”