Fatima Whitbread

Former Olympian Fatima Whitbread shares her story with Lancashire care leavers

Care leavers in Lancashire were shown a powerful video from former Olympian Fatima Whitbread during a celebration event at County Hall.

Young people were invited to a celebration evening at County Hall as part of Care Leaver's Week, which took place from 25 October to 1 November.

The first half of the celebration event showed various videos highlighting positive activities such as the walking group, young mums' group and care leaver forum, all of which they can get involved in.

Young care leavers then watched a special video from Fatima Whitbread, a decorated British retired javelin thrower who grew up in a children’s home in Ware, Hertfordshire.

Fatima, who was adopted after years in the care system, is fronting a new recruitment campaign, 'Fatima's UK Campaign', aimed at helping children in care and care leavers.

Ahead of Care Leavers' Week, the two times Olympic medallist spoke to Lancashire County Council to talk about her new campaign and experiences in the care system.

"I lived 14 years in a children's home, so I know all about it and it's a cause that's very close to my heart," Fatima said.

In the video, Fatima talks about the stigma she and others experienced in school being a child in care, and how she found a calling in sport.

Fatima said:

"I'd have the finger pointed at me all the time, 'you're the kids from the homes'. There was a lot of stigmatization that surrounded that.

"However, that made me a really strong, steely person, inwardly and I found myself with sport, and that was my saviour.

"I was team captain for most of the school sports, for netball, hockey. I loved to do anything, like kick a ball around with the boys. And it earned my respect with my peers. And the school teachers as well began to take note."

The two-time Olympic medallist goes on to talk about the importance of 'Fatima's UK Campaign' in amplifying the voices of children in care today, making their wishes and needs heard.

County Councillor Cosima Towneley, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for Children and Families, said:

"Fatima Whitbread was a sporting heroine of my youth and her story is truly inspirational.  

"Thankfully, there is a vastly different approach within the care system these days and I am happy to say we very much want, encourage and nurture the voice of those in our care.  

"We are immensely grateful to Fatima for her time. I know all of us who listened to her interview will have all taken something lasting away from her story."