Dispelling some of the negative myths around life in adoption and care, our panel are living examples of the kind of success that children raised in the system can go on to achieve.

Sharing their personal stories and views on adoption and care are broadcaster Lemn Sissay MBE, Naz Shah MP, author Kit De Waal, and the University of Bradford’s director of external affairs, Mark Garratt.

All our panellists have first hand experience of the system and can offer a different, informed take on an undeniably complex process, as well as explaining how their formative experiences helped them become the successful adults they are today.


Lemn Sissay

Lemn Sissay MBE is the author of several books of poetry, articles, records, public art, and plays and he was the official poet for the London Olympics. His Landmark Poems are installed throughout Manchester and London in venues such as The Royal Festival Hall and The Olympic Park, and he now serves as Chancellor of the University of Manchester. His life story is nothing short of incredible; Google “Lemn Sissay” and all the returning hits will be about him. There is only one Lemn Sissay in the world.

Naz Shah

Naz Shah is the Member of Parliament for Bradford  West and has been a Member of the Home Affairs select committe e since 2015. Naz is also the Chair of APPG for Islamic finance, former Chair of APPG for Islamophobia & now Vice chair on the APPG for British Muslims, and APPG for Integration.

Mark Garratt

Mark S Garratt is director of external affairs at the University of Bradford. He has spent nearly 30 years in senior roles in marketing and customer management in the private and public sectors worldwide. These include RBS Group, British Airways and Barnardos, as well as launching MORETH>N Insurance and Confused.com. He was adopted at the age of two months, then traced his birth parents at the age of 38.

Ralph Dartford

Ralph Dartford studied poetry at Birkbeck College, London under the tutelage of Michael Donaghy. His work has appeared in the Guardian, Pulp Faction, Stirring (US), WordLife and London Territories amongst many other publications. His first volume of poetry, Cigarettes, Beer and Love received wide acclaim, and his second, Dirty Needle Rain will be published in 2019.

About The Author

Kit de Waal

Kit de Waal was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother, who was a foster carer and a Caribbean father. She worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law, was a magistrate for several years and sits on adoption panels. She used to advise Social Services on the care of foster children, and has written training manuals on adoption and foster care. Her writing has received numerous awards including the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize 2014 and 2015 and the SI Leeds Literary Reader’s Choice Prize 2014. ‘My Name is Leon’ is her first novel.