Campaigning to reform the care system

Author and campaigner Chris Wild is determined to help children live fulfilling lives

Chris Wild lives in Freezywater, Enfield
Chris Wild lives in Freezywater, Enfield

When Chris Wild was eleven his father died, leaving him to grow up in the British care system – at that moment, in his words, “my childhood came to an end”.

Chris witnessed the “inequities of life” with children being subjected to abuse by the professionals who were supposed to keep them safe. Several friends Chris had during this turbulent period later took their own lives.

But Chris says he was “one of the lucky ones” who was able to “change my negative experience into a gift”. It became a catalyst for the work Chris does now; helping vulnerable young people all over the country.

The Freezywater native has used his own personal trauma to bring about change. He started as a youth coach and slowly made his way into management. In under five years he was managing three houses for young people in semi-independent care.

This, he says: “Gave me an insight into the dangers young people face on a day-to-day basis, such as county lines [drugs gangs], child sexual exploitation, homelessness. It also taught me about politics and running a business.”

But it was when Chris decided to start writing books about his life and campaigning for change that he really felt he was making a big difference. His first book from 2018, Damaged, focuses on his personal story of growing up in care. His second, The State of It, was published last year and looks at the “broken care system” and how it has affected some of the young people he works with.

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Chris said: “I have worked on many campaigns for young people in the care sector. I became a national advocate in this sector and my voice has resonated with professionals in central government.”

In an appearance on the BBC’s Newsnight programme three years ago, Chris gave an emotional account of some of the issues he had been dealing with, including the case of a 15-year-old boy “treated like a stray dog”. The appearance helped spur a change in the law, so that no young person under the age of 16 can now be placed in a home that is unregulated.

Chris is now a patron of many charities working in the sector and in 2020 was appointed a board member for the survivors working group set up by former minister Sajid Javid and campaigner Olivia Robey, through which he was actively involved in looking at ways to prevent children being groomed online.

Enfield Community Heroes

This article is the latest in our ‘Enfield Community Heroes’ series, sponsored by Edmonton Green Shopping Centre. Dispatch readers are welcome to nominate their own local hero – someone who has gone above and beyond to help support the local community. Simply email your nomination to [email protected].

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