Samantha Morton supports threatened children's home
LIKE many youngsters before and since, Samantha Morton felt scared and isolated when she entered a Nottingham children's home for the first time.
Yet the nurturing support and encouragement of Nottingham's social workers that surrounded the actress during her teenage years helped her scale the dizzy heights of Hollywood.
glamorous Actress Samantha Morton moves in Hollywood circles but she grew up in care in Nottingham
fond memories: A social worker recalls actress Samantha Morton as a teenager in Nottingham
CAPTION HERE: Left, Samantha as Myra Hindley in Channel 4's drama Longford and, right, filming Control on location in Macclesfield,Cheshire.she is depicting the life story of 80's pop idol Ian Curtis of the Joy Division group...
IN ROLE: Above left, Sam in Pandaemonium, above, filming Control, the story of Ian Curtis of Joy Division on location in Macclesfield, Cheshire.and left, as Eva in, Dreaming of Joseph Lees
high drama: Above, with Tom Cruise in Minority Report; right as Myra Hindley in Channel 4 drama Longford; and left: as Mary Stuart in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
And according to one of those workers, who regards Sam, 31, as a daughter, the Oscar-nominated actress is just one success story among many whose lives have been transformed by Nottingham's council-run children's homes.
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Today Sam, from Clifton, is returning to Nottingham to champion the cause of the city's four homes, one of which is threatened with closure – and 24 social care staff who face redundancy.
It comes as no surprise to the social workers who remember Sam that the actress has so fervently backed their struggle to keep their team together.
"I know she's very passionate and compassionate about vulnerable children and young people," says Charlotte, a social worker, whose name the Post has changed to protect her from possible repercussions.
"I know she has a heart for making sure they're looked after and cared for."
Charlotte, who has worked for the service for more than two decades, first came into contact with Sam when she was about 12.
"She was lovely," she recalls. "A normal child who'd had a really difficult life. She had a good sense of humour and we used to joke together about all sorts of things."
According to Charlotte, Sam showed her talent for performance from an early age.
"You could just see it in her. We would sometimes hold talent shows in the children's homes. Sam would come on and disco dance and it would be like watching a professional dancer. She was absolutely gifted and talented in that way."
Like many of Nottingham's care home children, Sam has since returned to the home where she grew up to exchange reminiscences with the staff.
Charlotte has seen many of Sam's films and the two Oscar ceremonies where she has contended for an award.
"She's always been stunning," she says. "Partly because she's got an amazing personality."
Charlotte, who lives in the city, expresses this kind of affection for many of her charges.
"You come to look upon these children and young people as your daughters and sons. I treat them as my own children," she says.
The children who enter the homes are aged between 12 and 18. Many of them have endured tragic upbringings.
"They may have been abused physically, emotionally or sexually," says Charlotte. "They may have been turned out of their homes by their parents or sometimes their families have died."
Some of the children will enter the homes with, what Charlotte calls, "all the usual teenage problems". They may self-harm or lack any kind of self-esteem.
Staff at the homes work together with other agencies to instil in the children a sense of normality and self-belief.
"It's a joy to see them blossom," says Charlotte. "They're very happy in the service. When the time comes for them to leave, many of them don't want to!"
Some of the former care children will return to the homes later in life to show their own children where they grew up.
Others come with tales of career successes.
"They've gone into careers like nursing, construction, the police," says Charlotte. "Some have gone to university"
Currently there are 17 young people in three Nottingham City Council residential homes as the fourth home is being refurbished.
Many of the care homes have been refurbished recently and are, Charlotte says, "nice, homely places." Ofsted has ranked most of the homes as outstanding or good.
The homes will strive to cultivate a family-like environment. Children will have a quiet place to do homework. They will go to theme parks and football matches or on holidays together.
Last week, each of the 90 staff at Nottingham's four homes received a letter informing them that 24 of their number face either being moved into other jobs or possible redundancy.
A spokesman for the council said: "The proposal to close one children's home is part of a continuing shift to provide the best type of accommodation for young children in our care.
"No child will be affected adversely by the proposed closure."
Transferring the children to private care makes no financial sense, says Charlotte. "I think it will cost a lot more than using in-house facilities."