Honorary Fellow Paul Barber speaks to students
04 November 2011
Paul Barber was made an Honorary Fellow in 2011 for his outstanding contribution to the performing arts over the last 30 years.
He recently returned to LJMU with his brother Ben Brown, former assistant director of Haringey Social Services, to talk to students as part of National Care Leavers' Week.
Paul's 2007 autobiography, Foster Kid: A Liverpudlian Childhood, gives a moving and candid portrayal of his troubled early life: after the death of his mother, he spent his childhood in a succession of children's homes and in foster care before embarking on a successful career as an actor, best known for his performances in two of the most popular comedies of recent times, Only Fools and Horses and The Full Monty.
He uses his high profile to help others by raising awareness of the difficulties facing people in care and of the need for foster and adoptive parents to come forward and offer safe and loving homes for the many children in need. He has visited care homes to motivate young people, urging them to believe in themselves and realise their ambitions. His autobiography has provided comfort and inspiration to many people who have been through broadly similar experiences in childhood.
Ben is now Managing Director of a company he has recently set up called Customised Care Services, which will provide support to adults with severe learning disabilities including adults with severe autistic behaviour disorders. The company is also working to build up a social enterprise project for young people with learning disabilities making the transition from school to work.
Speaking to Journalism student Jessica Galley, Paul commented on talking to University students about his experiences:
"It came by accident, acting," he revealed. "I went to the Empire to support a friend. I didn’t even know what the word audition was, and they asked me if I’d like to have a go. I got the part and my friend didn’t but I turned it down, because of my friendship."
Read the JMU Journalism interview at: http://www.jmu-journalism.org.uk/#/news-516/4554607780
Universities across England, Scotland and Wales united to spread a shared message of celebration of their students from foster care and residential care as part of National Care Leavers Week 2011 (26 October to 1 November).
Phil Bakstad, LJMU Care Leavers Project Coordinator, also ran a seminar at the National Leaving Care Services conference in Westminster, where he discussed how LJMU and the higher education sector in general were working to increase the number of care leavers progressing to higher education with colleagues from local and national children’s organisations and social services. He commented:
"It was fantastic to welcome Paul and his brother to LJMU, and the students were definitely inspired by their stories, and how they willingly give up their time to encourage young people who are care leavers to be successful and confident in their plans."
"LJMU is committed to helping increase the number of care leavers that go on to study at university. We have been awarded the Frank Buttle Trust quality mark, which is given to universities that can show they are able to offer a high level of support to those who have been in care."
Pictured (left to right): Ben Brown, Paul Barber, LJMU students - Matthew Evans and Jessica Harris, Phil Bakstad