TV star Lennie James visits Barnados in Lewisham: Kids in care can achieve, too


A TV star who is making his own series despite being taken into care at the age of 10 has become an ambassador for a charity supporting people like him.

The Line of Duty and The Walking Dead star Lennie James visited Barnardo’s YouthBuild Academy in Lewisham, where he met some of the youngsters he will help to represent.

The academy was set up to help care leavers aged 16-29, and young people who are not in employment or further education, to build construction skills and find employment opportunities within the industry.

Lennie, who is currently filming in Lewisham for the second series of popular drama Save Me, will also play a part in Bernardo’s larger appeal for care leavers, the Positive Futures appeal.

Young people at YouthBuild Academy with Lennie James (centre-right). Credit: Piers Allardyce

He and his wife, Giselle, have set up a fund, named after Lennie’s birth and foster mothers Phyllis and Pam, and hope to raise £50,000 for the appeal within its first year.

The actor and writer went into care after his mother passed away when he was just 10 and he was then
fostered by a family in Tooting.

Lennie said during the visit on November 19: “The fear and vulnerability of going into care is etched in my memory.

What made the difference was the support of those who looked after me and helped shape who I am today. Without doubt care leavers have challenges to overcome, but a child’s future doesn’t have to be defined by their past.

“I was lucky to become an actor – if children have a stable and loving experience while in care, and then get the right support when they leave the system, they can go on to achieve and have fulfilling lives.

Lennie James speaking with Callum . Credit: Piers Allardyce

I passionately believe this, which is why I am looking forward to highlighting and supporting the work of Barnardo’s.”

Callum Nicholas, 20, who is involved in the programme, said: “It was great to meet Lennie.

YouthBuild Academy has been a brilliant programme for me, my colleagues and for the community in my local area.

As a young person who has grown up in care, I know it’s not always easy to access education and training, which is why YouthBuild Academy can make such a big difference.”

Barnardo’s supported 353 care leavers last year in London alone.

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