In her brand-new series Thrown Away Children, Louise Allen shares the harrowing stories she is exposed to as a foster mother. The first in the series, Stella's Story, tells the astonishing true story of a young girl scarred by an abusive past.
Named after the lager that christened her at birth, Stella's life is characterised instability and neglect. Her teenage mother abandons her in the first few weeks of her life, and left in the 'care' of her father, she ends up lying deserted in a house with no food, no water, no clothes and no warmth.
She eventually lands in the care of foster carer Louise, who is determined to change her life for the better. Things seem to be going well - but when Stella has a startling response to having her photo taken, it becomes clear the scars of her abuse run deeper than anyone could have ever guessed.
This series follows a format. Part one tells a fictionalised telling of what might have befallen the child - based, we assume on Louise Allen's gleaning of information and ideas from her direct experience and other sources. The second part is a memoir of Louise's direct experience while the child is in her care. All of the stories are harrowing and sometimes very difficult to read but what makes these books have weight is the considered view of our social care system and society's attitude towards 'looked-after' children in general. Louise is an intelligent and creative person and gives fascinating yet not melodramatic insight into this world. This approach provides the balance needed to save the stories from becoming mawkish. They are vividly real, no-nonsense and very human. Louise is also someone who has a sense of humour and this comes across and that's important too because in my opinion nothing shows humanity like the use of humour especially when dealing with consequences the dark side of human nature.
Stella's story is the first in the series.
Recorded for W F Howes at my studio in Sheffield.