Literary festival: Hope Daniels discusses social care misery of childhood years in Hackney

PUBLISHED: 16:33 03 September 2014 | UPDATED: 15:41 23 September 2014

Jenny Molloy (Left) and daughter Lauren (right) and granddaughter Lily (centre)

Jenny Molloy (Left) and daughter Lauren (right) and granddaughter Lily (centre)


The candour with which Jenny Molloy talks about her life and the notoriously secret care system which she has been a part of – both as a child and now a consultant – is refreshing.

But it has not always been the case, for it was only five and a half years ago that Molloy, who writes under the pseudonym Hope Daniels, decided to reveal all about her past with her memoir, Hackney Child and follow up book Tainted Love, which she has written with co-author Morag Livingstone.

In 1983, as a nine-year-old, Molloy was forced to leave home with her two younger brothers in search of her social worker.

Life had become intolerable after a baying mob attacked Molloy’s home with bricks and planks as news spread that her mother was working as a prostitute. Her father, meanwhile, was an alcoholic.

Now with her appearance at the Hampstead & Highgate Literary Festival following the release of her latest book, Tainted Love (co-written by Morag Livingstone), she is back to talk more about the social care system and her life – which neither her two children nor her husband knew about until the publication of Hackney Child.

“I have not got any qualifications to be a social worker but I am an expert by experience,” Molloy says.

The Hackney-born mother, a staunch supporter of social workers who are trying to reinvigorate the lives of children in care, does feel the system could be improved.

“I agree with parts of it, but the system itself has not grown with the needs of the country and the complexities of the kids. I think the care system is in a better place than 20 years ago [when I was in it] – 100 per cent.

“The problem is there are too many local authorities which are crap. You will see that from their Ofsted reports.

“There is some brilliant work going on out there, but the problem is that brilliant work is not being replicated around the country with the same amount of money.”

At the literary festival, Molloy, under her pseudonym, will speak to clinical psychologist Tanya Byron about her physical and emotional survival and the lifeline given to her by professionals working in the care system.


Her rise to the top of her field has seen her give key note speeches to the government on children’s care.

An amazing feat when you consider initially Molloy, despite her vast experience at the hands of care workers, did not feel she had anything to offer by way of advice for the system.

“I thought: ‘Why are you asking me?’ But, of course, they have all the theory but they do not have the inside knowledge [like me].”

Hope Daniels and Tanya Byron will be appearing on Monday, September 15 at 8.30pm. Tickets cost £12.

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