Woman’s journey from social care to bestselling author
- Credit: Archant
From a childhood spent in and out of the care system to a Sunday Times bestselling author of three novels, one woman is battling the negative stereotypes placed on children that go into care with her own success story.
In her new book Neglected, Jenny Molloy relates harrowing accounts of what can happen when children are deprived of love, or fall in love with the wrong people.
With characters based on people from her Hackney childhood, Jenny portays brave and inspirational children who go from adversity in abusive homes, criminal gangs and isolation to forging their own thriving futures.
She said: “With this, my third novel, I wanted to challenge the taboo that kids in care should not be loved because with book two I reconnected as an adult with people I had grown up in care with. The thing that linked us was that we had all become really successful which totally blew the perception out of the water, that we would all end up in prison or addicts.”
In her debut novel, Hackney Child, written under the pen name Hope Daniels, Jenny tells the story of how, as a nine-year-old child of alcoholic parents, she walked into a police station with her brothers and asked to be taken into care. At 18, she was handed her files which described in detail the full and terrible picture her childhood, which she overcame.
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She said: “I didn’t want my books to fit the misery memoir genres. Our lives might have been difficult and traumatic, but not miserable so I worked really hard to shy away from that.
“You won’t find really intimate abuse details in these books either, as it takes away from the message and it defines us by the abuse rather than people who have been successful against all the adversity behind us.”
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Jenny said writing saved her in care, and while in therapy as an adult, her self-published novel Hackney Child took shape, snowballing into a book deal with internationally renowned publishers Simon and Schuster.
She said: “In the books, what I am trying to portray is that you don’t have to have lots of money in a local authority to make a difference to us, you need to give social workers and carers the support and time.
“I really want the message to be that social workers are just such special people and if we can just give them freedom when we are in care our limits of success are off the scale.
“I want that to come across. We have to start breaking down this misconception that social workers aren’t needed; it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
She added: “Of course there is going to poor practise, social workers are such scapegoats for any kind of wrong in our society with kids, but when you learn the truth of the cases, there are multiple reasons why things go wrong.
“I totally depended on them - thank god it wasn’t like that when I was a kid. When I was younger social workers had the freedom to do for us what we needed them to. If I went missing, looking for me all over London is something they would regularly do. I had someone who though it was special – kids today don’t have that.”
Neglected is available in bookshops and online.
Jenny is patron of British Association of Social Workers and a regular contributor with Community Care.
Follow her on Twitter @HackneyChild.