A tribute to Yusuf Paul McCormack – UBUNTU

“Ubuntu is the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you cannot exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality-Ubuntu-you are known for your generosity.

We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas we are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

On the evening of 18th March 2021 during world social work week celebrations, Your Life Your Story hosted UBUNTU in honour of the life and work of Yusuf Paul McCormack a much loved director of Your Life Your Story, founder and co-director of Artifacts and highly regarded member of the care experienced community.  “Yusuf captured the essesnce spirit  of Ubuntu  in his love of humanity, connection and kindness, in his pursuit of unity and social justice. In his generous heart, kinf spirit and gentle nature he created a sense of belonging and connectedness for so many who felt they never did… ” Saira Jayne Jones director of Artifacts and YLYS. 

In this painting and accompanying poem ‘A Colour Full Life’ Tasmin Trevorrow captures the very essence of the man, all that he was and how we will remember him. Jackie Mcartney met Yusuf five years ago at a care leavers event and spoke about how he had supported her work with care leavers and helped her to find her voice. 

We saw in the video’s of his work his efforts to ‘Be The Difference’ and with more contribututions from Daniel Bennison, Dr Josie Pearce, David Jackson, Amanda Knowles and members of the audience this event truly was testimony to his love of family and his tireless and selfless endeavours.  

We heard from Greg Hartigan his lifelong friend who grew up with him in Father Hudson’s homes about the boy he was, and how he survived against the odds of unthinkable cruelty and hardship. Then from David Jackson, a more recent friend, about what his friendship meant to him and of his commitment to inclusion and ally ship and the evening ended with a call to action…  Members of the audience were asked to make a pledge to ‘BE THE DIFFERENCE

Poems from the event will be posted on the website and a video of this event will be made available on YouTube and if you are interested in the work of Your Life Your Story and Artifacts please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 


Smoke and Mirrors

On March 12th 2021 Evette Stanley the National Director of Early Years Regulation and Social Care at Ofsted publicly welcomed the Independent Children’s Review. In this public address it is acknowledged that Ofsted need to play their part. It says they want to encourage flexibility but are too often hampered by the restrictions of current legislation.

For this reason, Ofsted say they have asked the review team to take a fresh look at the regulatory framework they work under. They say this is because key aspects and specifically the Care Standards Act need modernising.

Whilst this news is welcomed it will be of no comfort to those who have suffered discrimination and significant harm under Ofsted’s interpretation of the present arrangements.

The number of individuals who have suffered the shame of disqualification from the children’s workforce and the number of children’s home closures and reasons for them is not publicly known. Ofsted say this is because it is not in the public interest. The concern is that this lack of transparency and unyielding determination to defend the right to rely on untested information and conciliatory avoidance has wreaked havoc in children’s social care and prevents proper scrutiny of regulatory decisions that affect so many lives.

It is of course true that too many children have been harmed and that care fails too many. It is good that the review aims to consult with children and adults with lived experience of children’s social care. Although, it is difficult to see how meaningful this will be in such short timescales and without taking into account the views of those who provided their day-to-day care.

As I see it, modernising the legislative framework in the proposed way will not bring about the necessary improvements, that will require significant cultural change and a new approach to regulation. Specifically, a regulatory system that draws on findings from behavioural science, transparency and ethical practice.

Without this, the reliability and validity of regulatory processes and the judgments made based on them will remain questionable.

Amanda Knowles 2021

Talking Circles

At YOUR LIFE YOUR STORY EVENTS the opportunity to SHARE OUR STORIES, to listen to each other and learn from each other isTalking-Circle-Instagram-Post an important feature of what we do. With the help of Artifacts we explored the concept of talking circles and created our own talking sticks at YOUR LIFE YOUR STORY 2019.

The TRADITIONAL TALKING CIRCLE is a very old way of bringing NATIVE PEOPLE of all ages together in a quiet, respectful manner for the purposes of TEACHING, LISTENING, LEARNING and SHARING. The value of coming together in this way was summed up in the feedback from the group “it is good to be with people who just get it”….

Sadly we were not able to come together as planned at YOUR LIFE YOUR STORY 2020 but  again with the help of Artifacts we braved technology and came together for our YOUR LIFE YOUR STORY Christmas event ‘The Gift of Experience – The Truth Unwrapped” on Zoom.

It is difficult to believe that just a few weeks later at the beginning of 2021 we sadly lost our beloved brother Yusuf and our tribute event in his memory will also be held on zoom on 18 March 2021 during world social work week. Tickets for the event UMBUTU are available at Eventbrite.

With all of this in mind and uncertainty about whether YOUR LIFE YOUR STORY EVENT will be able to go ahead as planned this year we thought the opportunity to meet online in a ‘Talking Circle’ would be an appropriate way of keeping our community connected and extending it to others. These will be held on the 2nd and 4th Thursday monthly beginning on 8th April 2021.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Please contact amanda@ylys.org for more information

A guiding light of hope…

Your Life Your Story celebrate the success of another care experienced author. Jarone Macklin-Page tells readers that ‘The Founder Seeds: Awakening’ is a story that was born in the time that he lived in the care sector, “a world where, unfortunately, for too many, their dreams often die.” Jarone tells us that the book was born in defiance, and is… “For all of you who deserve to dream, and who are capable of more than you know.”

“Without the love and support I was shown from the care sector, my dreams would have been lost, like so many others.”

Available now at Amazon.co.uk

The Phoenix

In times of doubt and confusion the phoenix symbolises strength, transformation and renewal. For only from the ashes of who we were, can we rise up to become who we’re to be.

This inspirational artwork has been donated to Your Life Your Story by artists Saira-Jayne Jones and Yusuf Paul McCormack known collectively as ‘Artifacts’ who facilitated a creative workshop at Your Life Your Story 2019.

Our task was to make the branches of our ‘Positivtree’
We were instructed to take four luggage labels and to think about two negative words used by others to describe us and two positive words and to write each word on the labels selected. On completion we were invited to take the labels bearing negative words and shred them in the paper shredder provided. The labels with the two positive words we had written became the leaves on our branch of the ‘positivitree’ which we decorated in colourful ribbons and trinkets.

What we didn’t know…
The labels bearing the negative names we had shredded at the end of the workshop were to be carefully constructed to create this amazing picture of the phoenix rising from the book. It captures the very essence of Your Life Your Story.

Unleashing the power of relationships and the untold story


Letters to the Little People

Your Life Your Story is off to Windsor this week to the INTERNATIONAL annual conference of  THE CONSORTIUM FOR THERAPEUTIC COMMUNITIES to deliver a workshop. 

Care experienced poet and activist, Tasmin Trevorrow-Earl, care experienced artist and poet Yusuf McCormack and care experienced poet, artist and qualified social worker, Saira-Jayne Jones will be inviting participants to hold on to their seats, lean in and open their ears, as Your Life Your Story transports them on an emotive, profound and immersive journey into the ‘care’ experience through the decades of their lived experience; using narrative, poetry, verse and spoken word.


A Date For Your Diary


19th to 26th NOVEMBER 2019

Proudly announcing the rebranding of the first Your Life Your Story inspired book and BOOK BLOG TOUR organised by  Anne Cater a successful book blogger, and reviewer for some of the largest publishing houses, including Penguin, Harper Collins and Orion as well as smaller independent houses such as Orenda Books, No Exit Press and Arcadia. 

Ann has twenty years experience in the Voluntary Sector and is passionate about the value of volunteering, enabling people to make changes in their communities and having their voice heard.

Ready for the Bookshops

Proudly announcing that the first YOUR LIFE YOUR STORY inspired book Oi You F*cker has been rebranded and is ready for sale in bookshops. If you have a copy of the first edition hang on to it and watch this space.

Proceeds from first edition book sales have been generously donated by the author to YOUR LIFE YOUR STORY 2019 the third annual care leavers week event that brings care experienced adults and caregivers together with published authors, poets and exhibited artists to learn the techniques of storytelling through the arts. 

Free places are available to care experienced adults and caregivers with artistic and literary aspirations and YOUR LIFE YOUR STORY welcomes contributions from new authors and artists for publication on this website.

For more information contact the editor amanda@ylys.org.uk  





YLYS welcomes new author David Anderson

As a child I resided in a wide range of so-called ‘care’ settings then went on to experience homelessness and prison before managing to get myself on a more positive trajectory – in no small part due to positive relationships based on true care and love. Following a return to education I worked as a youth worker before completing a Social Work Master. More recently, I completed a research degree with a focus on improving educational services for young people experiencing care and am currently working towards designing a relationship-based training course for this purpose. At the moment, I teach Social Work students and Social Educators and my wife and I are in the process of setting up a farm so we can offer a space to people to experience time with animals and nature within a safe place. I also volunteer with Who Cares? Scotland, a charity that pushes for real and lasting change to the care system.

I love to read and write and am in awe of the power words have to change lives for the better. I believe sharing our experiences of care through the written word can encourage understanding of the prevalent issues and provoke change in the minds of those who need it. By taking ownership of our stories we can control the narrative.