My Name is Leon is a powerful single-part TV drama, aired in June 2022 on BBC1 (now available on BBC iplayer.) It is based on the international-best selling book of the same name by Kit de Waal. 

 

Click Image to play BBC trailer - My Name is Leon: The Power of Attachment & FamilyClick to play BBC trailer (external link to YouTube):
Warning: This drama contains violence and upsetting scenes, considered unsuitable for younger viewers (BBC Guidance)

 

Told through the eyes of nine-year old Leon (Cole Martin), a mixed race boy in 1980s Birmingham, we follow his journey into the care system with his white half-baby brother, Jake. The siblings are placed into foster care after their mum’s mental health crisis. The brothers are eventually separated into different foster care settings, leaving a distraught Leon mother and brotherless. 

The drama’s airing is timely as the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care’ report (‘The MacAlister Report’)1 has just been published. The report highlights the importance of kinship care and how separating siblings is devastating to children. 

The drama follows Leon’s foster placement with Maureen (Monica Dolan), who offers him Curly Wurly chocolate bars at every turn and his gradual discovery of a community of black gardeners on the local allotment plots. “Tufty” (Malachi Kirby) gradually becomes a father figure, teaching him about growing plants, race and family. 

It is an astonishing drama, telling the narrative from a child’s perspective, without descending into mawkish storytelling. 

It is a fitting reminder of the stark choices made in the care system. Although there have been many changes since the 1980s there remains, at heart, a compelling case for kinship care and sibling unity, where appropriate for the particular family circumstances.

It is also a reminder of the complex psychological needs of babies and children who are taken into care, some of whom may go on to be adopted – but many of whom remain in the care system throughout their childhood. The psychological trauma they experience can be profound, often including multiple experiences of loss, as well as neglect and abuse. The impact on their lives ahead can be far reaching, ranging from emotional difficulties, relationship difficulties, difficulties regulating behaviour and learning issues. 

Working together with children and families, helping them to process the past and look to the future is one of our greatest passions at The Purple House Clinic. Our Lincoln and Leicester clinics have specialist teams of Psychologists and Occupational Therapists who provide psychological health services to looked-after and adopted children via the Adoption Support Fund (ASF). We highly recommend setting aside some time to watch and digest this compelling and highly emotional telling of one individual’s traumatic experiences, their journey through the care system, and the power of sibling attachment.

 


 

 References:

1 The Independent Review of Childrens’ Social Care: Final Report (May 2022): https://childrenssocialcare.independent-review.uk/final-report/

 


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