Rebekah Pierre has taken the literary world by storm with her new book, Free Loaves on Fridays, which features the voices and stories of 100 care-experienced children and adults. Books have flown off the shelves, selling out in just a few days after being published. We asked Rebekah a few questions to find out more about why she took on this project…

Can you share a little bit about yourself, your career and your work?

I am notoriously dreadful at these types of questions! I get all existential when thinking of what to say, but I suppose at my heart I am three things; a die-hard Northerner, a bit of a nerd, and someone who wears their heart on their sleeve.

Career-wise, I am a care-experienced author and social worker, currently working at the British Association of Social Workers as the lead Professional Officer for Child and Family Social Work. En route to social work, I had the privilege of working in the UK, Canada, Chile and Spain supporting children and young people from diverse backgrounds. This ranged from local grassroots charities specialising in youth work, to the United Nations Development Programme led by the Chilean Ministry of Education.

I have recently edited Free Loaves on Fridays, an anthology containing 100 voices from care, which will hit mainstream bookshops on 19th April 2024


What inspired you to become involved in advocating for children’s rights?

Following the many failings I encountered with the justice system, I initially wanted to specialise in children’s rights and become a human rights lawyer – something I earned a place at university to study when I was 21, but unfortunately the reality of being a care leaver kicked in and I just couldn’t afford it. Social work presented itself as an opportunity to promote children’s rights at a grassroots level, and fight for social justice, so I decided to pursue that.

Then around 3 years ago, I first heard of the #KeepCaringto18 Campaign. It immediately took me back to my own experience of living in an unregulated placement as a very vulnerable teenager – something I wrote about in an academic journal where I shared diary entries written at the time, with a view to exposing the harms of such settings.

Witnessing the collective power that thousands of individuals had when making a stand against these placements solidified this passion. Now, I am interested in how best equip the next generation of care leavers to stand up for their rights. I didn’t get involved until my late twenties, but young people of all ages absolutely have the power and the potential to change society – and I’d love to be a small part of making that happen. 


Talk us through your new book, Free Loaves on Friday, and where your inspiration came from for the book?

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the Guardian exposing the harms of unregulated placements. The next day, an editor from Unbound got in touch to ask if I’d consider editing an anthology on care. My immediate response was no; to me, an anthology would mean a limited amount of stories, and rejecting anyone from a community in which rejection is rife was one I didn’t want to entertain. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought care-experienced voices deserved to be heard. So I agreed on the condition that there could be a no-rejection policy.

The name comes from my experience of living in an unregulated placement. Every Friday, we residents received a donation of a trolley full of thick, sliced white bread. It probably had more use as a doorstop than anything with actual nutritional value. Anyway, the point is that no one ever bothered to ask us what sort of bread we might like – it was just the dregs of whatever was left over. This book is about allowing care-experienced people choice, if not about bread, then the way their stories are told.


What do you hope the book will do for the children’s social care sector?

For far too long, care-experienced people have been written about, but without, in case notes, assessments and court reports.

When I penned an Open Letter to the Social Worker Who Wrote My Case Files a couple of years ago, which unexpectedly went viral, it resonated with many care-experienced people who longed to have more ownership over their own stories. I hope that Free Loaves will provide professionals with insight as to what it is really like to live through care, not just 9-5 as a shift, but 24 hours a day with all of our five senses. To allow us to be heard not just within the limiting confines of a feedback form, or a ‘child’s wishes’ section shoehorned in at the end of an assessment, but on our own terms. I also hope it will subvert power dynamics, to prove that we are more capable than is often assumed; everything from the cover design to the sensitivity read of this book was led by care-experienced people.

It is the book I desperately wish my own social workers had read. And in fact, the book I wish I had received during my own training as a social worker; having 100 diverse perspectives from care is so incredibly valuable and would have made me feel much more equipped.


What would you like to say to children and young people growing up in care today?

No matter what people tell you, your story is just beginning. So often we are mistakenly judged for our past, defined by our history. But your future remains unwritten – each chapter full of hope and promise. You are remarkable and so is your potential.


Spotlight is a new series which will share the stories, experiences and expertise of people from across the children’s social care sector. From campaigners and policy makers to those with lived experiences, it provides a platform for people to discuss the topics that mean the most to them and share more about their ongoing work.

To purchase Free Loaves on Friday, head to Amazon.