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MIRRA, the Memory-Identity-Rights in Records-Access research project

Social Care Records: Memory, Identity and Information Rights

"...for a long time I felt like I was that file and it took me a long time to untangle myself… I am some of what my file is but I’m not just that file. I had such a richer life, but it’s been hard to reclaim that over the years." John-george, care leaver.

Records created and kept about looked-after children and young people have profound effects on their lives, both while they are in care and then in adulthood. They inform assessments and planning; substantiate and justify decisions and are used in legal proceedings. Writing them may take up as much as 80% of a social worker's time. As adults, care-experienced people often wish to revisit their 'files' to gain a better understanding of what happened to them and why, using them to construct a narrative of belonging and identity. This presents significant challenges to information practitioners and administrators who have to manage the complex data protection implications.

The MIRRA research project, a partnership between researchers at UCL and the Care Leavers' Association, has spent the past two years interviewing care leavers, social care practitioners, information professionals and researchers about the value, use and challenges of social care records. A recordkeeping framework has been drafted, to support care experienced people to exercise their information rights and practitioners to fulfill their information responsibilites. This includes guidance and standards for all stages of the records life-cycle, from initial creation and content, through management, preservation and retention, to access by the subject while they are in care or afterwards.

This workshop is an opportunity for child social care managers and practitioners, and information managers and practitioners, to hear more about the research, share their experiences and shape the framework draft through consultation activities. Speakers will include members of the UCL research team, Darren Coyne of the Care Leavers' Association, Luke Geoghegan of the British Association of Social Workers and Jon Elliot of the Archives and Records Association.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided. A copy of the draft framework will be circulated to attendees prior to the workshop, and printed copies will be available on the day. A visual minute taker will record the conversations from the workshop for circulation afterwards.

Attendees may also be interested in the research symposium, which takes place on Thursday 18th July. For tickets, see: