'I'm doing it for my sister': Nottingham man who grew up in care fights for equality

A man who was moved in and out of care more than a hundred times as a child says he will not give up after a key recommendation from the Care Review was rejected by the government.

Terry Galloway from Nottingham wants to see the law changed so people who've been in the care system are given the same protection under equality law, as other groups like the LGBTQ+ and disabled communities.

His determination for change comes from a conversation with his sister Hazel shortly before she died.

Terry made a promise to his sister Hazel before she died Credit: ITV Central

"I was at a funeral with my sister, and she was basically telling me that she felt like she'd be next. And when your sister says something like that to you, what do you say?

"So I spent most of that night trying to persuade her and trying to encourage her. And the only thing I could think of was: 'You know what? We've been through all this trauma. Let's try and change the system.' So we made that promise that night.

"Unfortunately Hazel was next - she died. So I'm really inspired by her to do what I do."

Terry and Hazel spent years in the care system Credit: ITV Central

On Thursday (2 February) the government promised a "new, ambitious and wide-ranging" Children’s Social Care Implementation Strategy backed by £200 million.

But it stopped short of making care experience a protected characteristic like race, gender and religion to prevent discrimination as Terry wanted and the Care Review had recommended.

That was Terry's fear and why he decided to take action himself.

"I think a lot of people will be really, really angry, but I'm just disappointed. And to be fair, I expected it and I just don't think the government understand it. I don't think they've got a handle on this. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to prove it."

Terry, who works full time in the care sector creating jobs and homes, has travelled thousands of miles up and down the UK persuading councils to agree to start treating people who've been in care as a protected characteristic - even without a law change from Westminster.

So far 11 local authorities have agreed including Ashfield District, Nottingham City and the Conservative-led Nottinghamshire County Council.

Terry outside Nottinghamshire County Council after the motion had passed Credit: Terry Galloway

Kate Foale, the Labour leader at Nottinghamshire Council said: "He comes with such integrity, such passion and such enthusiasm and when we read through the information he gave us and talked to him at length we thought we've got to get behind this.

"The next step locally for Nottinghamshire is to make sure that care experienced people are properly supported and that will be done formally through the Equality Impact assessments that we do here that already take into account things like gender and disability."

Terry has been in the public gallery as the motion has been passed at every council involved.

"It's elation because it's been such a process and to hear it and watch it, it's great," he said.

"Especially because when they get to understand the issues they care, they really do care and this is now something practical that they can do.

"But that's not the end that's just the beginning. The next step for the councils is to engage with the care experienced community, whatever age and wherever they may be. That includes going into prisons, going into hospitals, colleges, to find out what discrimination they face and what the barriers are so we can then work on change.

"Somebody's got to do this. I need to stand up for care experienced people. I need to honour my sister's legacy and if I have to go to every council in the UK to make it happen I will."

Terry at Nottinghamshire County Council just before the motion was passed Credit: David Henningan

The government said: "We have carefully considered the recommendation to make care experience a protected characteristic. There are significant concerns in the sector that self-declaration of care experience could increase stigma.

"We will prioritise our proposals to extend corporate parenting responsibilities which we believe will be more impactful in driving real change in the way in which policies and services are designed and delivered to take account of the challenges that care leavers face."

Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, Claire Coutinho added:  “Our wide-ranging reforms will put strong relationships at are the heart of the care system. From supporting our brilliant foster carers, kinship carers and social workers to getting early help to families and improving children’s homes, we want every child to get the support and protection they need.”

The government is investing £30m in family finding, befriending and mentoring programmes to support children in care and care leavers to find and maintain loving relationships.

The leaving care allowance will increase from £2000 to £3000 from April.

And it says it will prioritise children in care living close to their family, friends and schools.

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