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#NCLW23 - raising awareness

The story of a young person

Care experienced young person? What next? From care to where? Breaking down stigma by recognising individual’s success and progress. Every care experienced child and young person has potential and aspirations. "Care was different for me, I didn’t even know I was considered a child in care. Why you may ask? I lived with my grandparents and it was just the way things were. I was told because of my autism and my siblings my mum struggled to look after all of us and so it was easier and better I lived with my grandma and grandad. To be honest when I lived at home with my mum and my mum’s boyfriend it wasn’t the best. He was not very nice to me and often I was dragged out of bed in the middle of the night for him to shout and scream at me or the police would turn up and a drama would escalate because of something he had done. Living with my grandparents was calmer and better for me. I was fifteen when I went to live with them and had two years there, I had my own room and it was really good. Things were good, we went on trips and went to London often with them." "Sadly my grandad got sick, he was very ill and he died. I miss him so much and think about him a lot. My grandma found looking after me by herself difficult because I’m very tall and big and I get angry because I often have issues of self-doubt and forget things I have been told. My autism also means I struggle to make friends and I get lonely. When I left grandma’s I ended up being in a hotel with workers who stayed to look after me and one day a worker sat and had dinner with me, which felt strange because nobody had done that before. They talked to me and asked me lots of questions and said that there was a group for young people in care. I never even knew that there would be groups for people like me. I left the hotel and went to stay in a house with other children in care that had workers on site to help you. I’m now in another residential house but with older people, I’m eighteen and the youngest there. I find this difficult and struggle with the rules and the people, especially at nights times because I don’t like sleeping as that was when memories return of bad times I get nightmares. Trauma is still in my head. To help I play video games but that annoys the other people I live with. The youth worker did keep their promise they got me to join the group and every week I get to meet up with other young people and we do work and have fun and engage in activities. Sometimes after the session some of us go for food or for some drinks and the other young people check on me and I’ve made some friends that help and support me even on bad days! They have become like a family to me and they encourage and support me to get involved. All I need to do is listen and be honest about how I feel because people do want to help in any way they can. They even ask my advice for computers and phones and listen when I talk about the world of virtual gaming. The young people and youth workers helped get me on the ‘I Tolerate’ course during the summer which helped give me something positive to attend and learn new skills. I even attended the you can do it awards to talk to other young people about our group so that they know when they turn eighteen they still have support and help and can meet other young people that have similar life experiences to them and that they really do understand how you feel. I think I’m lucky, that I went to the hotel and met a worker that wanted to listen and hear my story and didn’t just read my file and judge me on my past. Yes I make mistakes and sometimes I don’t understand because of my autism but I’m still here still trying and hoping to help other people in the future. In the meantime I am being supported to get an advocate, someone that will listen and say my views and support me in meetings about my future and my living accommodation. For me success has been about joining in and becoming a part of something and finding people around me who care." If you're a care experienced young person, join our Find your Future drop ins at Skills Launchpad Plymouth every Thursday from 12pm to 3pm for a chat with our Youth Hub Coordinator, Rhi, and employability signposting.

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