Joe Swash has won praise for his new documentary highlighting the flaws of the British care system.
The 41-year-old ex-EastEnders and reality star – whose mother was a foster carer – presented Joe Swash: Teens in Care for BBC Two, revealing how vulnerable children growing up in care have all their support cut off when they turn 18.
As well as interviewing several teens who are living within or have recently left the care system about how they are or aren't being supported, Swash also met with children’s minister, Claire Coutinho.
The I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! winner was left frustrated by the vagueness of the government promises to address the issues he presented.
Swash said: “It’s like an iceberg and they’re just playing at the top.”
Many viewers - some who had experiences the care system themselves - shared their praise for the show on social media.
So proud of everyone involved in the #teensincare documentary. Not enough is being highlighted around some of our most voulnerable children. 🖤 keep on shouting as loud as you can @realjoeswash I’m so proud of you 🖤
— Stacey Solomon (@StaceySolomon) July 11, 2023
Swash's own wife Stacey Solomon, who featured in the documentary, tweeted: "So proud of everyone involved in the #teensincare documentary. Not enough is being highlighted around some of our most vulnerable children. Keep on shouting as loud as you can @realjoeswash I’m so proud of you."
One viewer wrote: "Joe Swash: Teens in care- such a hard but important watch. These poor, vulnerable kids who’ve been through god knows what through their childhood, just left to fend for themselves from age 18. No one loving & supporting them, it’s just heartbreaking #Teensincare #Joeswash."
Another said: "This #joeswash documentary about teens in care is heartbreaking everything under the conservative system is broken. Enough is enough."
And another viewer tweeted: "So interesting, but very sad programme about the foster system & children in care Some positive bits, but sad to see children taken into care like a discarded toy. Lack of support for many once they reach 18. As #JoeSwash says we are dealing with the tip of the iceberg. #BBC"
One viewer who experienced the care system firsthand commented: "Watched #teensincare presented by #joeswash this evening. Should be a series. The care system has not been fit for purpose for years. Does not half bring back memories. Unwanted and unloved. #careexperienced"
Another care-leaver said: "It’s so sad that the care system hasn’t improved since I was a care leaver just over a decade ago. I almost didn’t survive this long, and it’s left a lasting impression that I personally have never fully overcome. We MUST do better for our kids #CareLeaver #kidsincare #joeswash."
And a care worker tweeted: "Just watched #JoeSwash #TeensInCare. As someone who is in charge of scrutinising the overall care system in Bridgend, I have to say this programme was superb. It really highlights the very real, often harsh reality of being in our care systems. Thank you everyone who made this."
But another care-leaver revealed they would not be watching the documentary as they expected it to be triggering. They posted: "I won’t be watching #JoeSwash #TeensInCare. I find shows that are so deeply connected to my trauma, uncomfortable. I also find the media and public commentary on Care Experience People overwhelming and deeply rooted in stigma. Love to my #CEP community this evening."
Swash and Solomon are parents to six children altogether, Rex, three, Rose, one, and four-month-old Belle from their relationship, while Swash also has son Harry, 16, from a previous relationship, and Solomon has two sons: Zachary, 15, and Leighton, 11, with another father.
They have revealed they hop to become foster parents themselves.
Solomon told Swash that she felt "deep down you're doing it because you eventually would like to foster" which Swash said was "something we could look into."
Watch: Stacey Solomon admits fifth child Belle was a 'surprise' pregnancy