Jenni is the project sub-committee lead and care leaver representative on the board of trustees for Live Unlimited. As a Barnet care leaver herself, Jenni is dedicated to being an advocate for young people and organising opportunities not previously available. Alongside being a trustee for the charity, Jenni has received her MSc in Global Public Health at Imperial College London and currently works as an Involvement Officer at Diabetes UK.
She has previously made use of her experiences in the care system to work as a Service User Involvement Practitioner for the Barnet Leaving Care team. There she facilitated several groups for care leavers and provided consultations regarding the transition from the Child in Care team to the Leaving Care team. She has also worked as an Independent Panel Member for the Hertfordshire Fostering & Adoption Panel, where she assessed potential foster carers with the needs of the child in mind.
Jenni has won the Westminster Alumni Social Impact Award 2022 for her dedication to advocating for care-experienced people.
Jenni is excited to be part of the Live Unlimited team and to take an active role in empowering young people in Barnet.
Between the ages of 14 and 19 I was moved between eight different foster care placements. My desire to advocate for others and achieve my academic goals helped me stay focused and power through those years.
I was driven to apply to university but found it hard going to interviews alone. I remember having an interview at the University of Bristol - I took the coach, attended the interview, wandered around the city, and returned home all by myself. I envied people who came with their parents, people who had someone expressing pride and reassuring them the results of any interview wouldn’t affect their value or worth.
I was accepted to study BSc (Hons) Cognitive & Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Westminster. I was excited to study but there was, however, an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Moving into student halls meant my previous foster placement was now closed. I didn’t know where I’d go if any issues arose, or if I didn’t make it through university. It dawned on me I wasn’t anyone’s responsibility anymore and if I went missing or became very ill, there would be no one to notice.
I lived in student accommodation for my first year and moved into temporary accommodation in my second year. When I was eventually moved into my permanent accommodation, it was completely empty. I spent the first few weeks sleeping on a rug half my size. I’d make my main meals out of a microwave and would use the Wi-Fi in my nearest McDonalds to complete university assignments or download a movie which I’d watch on repeat. It took a lot of time and effort to create a home for myself, and even now I sometimes see the pain that went into building it for myself. Despite these and other difficult circumstances, I graduated with an upper 2.1.
I went on to work as a Service User Involvement Practitioner for the Barnet Leaving Care Team, where I organised and facilitated several groups for care leavers including the Strengths & Resilience group and the Young Parents’ group, where we used mindfulness and art therapy to explore the impact of being a care experienced young person.
I started my MSc in Global Public Health at Imperial College London, alongside which I worked as an Independent Panel Member for the Hertfordshire Adoption & Fostering Panel and volunteered as a trustee for Live Unlimited. I won the Westminster Alumni Social Impact award for the care-related work I completed.
As a care leaver, it can be difficult to be proud of myself. Not having a parental figure who appreciates how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved has meant I’ve had to learn to pat myself on the back. Step by step I’m learning to love myself in the way I’ve previously hoped others would. It’s a journey, but I’m making good progress.