When I left my foster home, getting support became a nightmare
Things had become increasingly fragile and tense at the foster home I had lived in for more than seven years, and after exploring every route possible and trying to reconcile relationships, the placement had eventually broken down.
The decision was all mine, and it was the biggest jump I had ever made. I was entering the unknown. Where will I be moved to? Will I have any support? Will I be safe?
A few hours later, after a lot of help from school friends who knew London well, I found out how to get to this new place, and travelled the 90-minute journey to get there on my own. I arrived in the early evening to a building which looked like a prison. I was greeted by smiley but confused workers who weren’t expecting me. They said they didn’t have a room for me. Panic set in.
It took several phone calls to the care-unit manager and out-of-hours local authority staff to confirm I was due to stay at this unit after all.
It was a bright, warm day but the windows of the unit were closed, and a few of them had been boarded up with wood – it looks like they had been smashed quite recently. The place felt dangerous and edgy. And edgy was how I was feeling. How could I live here? I traipsed up to the second floor of the dark and desolate building with my key and bag of clothes in hand.
I went inside my new home and locked the door behind me as quickly as I could. By now I wanted to escape everyone, and I wanted to escape the whole day. I was truly drained and the realisation of my isolation and vulnerability started to sink in. Living in a tiny room, surrounded by people I didn’t know.
I had to cook, clean, wash clothes and fend for myself, as well as travel for three hours a day to school and study for my final exams. I had lots to do as deputy head boy, but I now lived much further away from my school, my friends and my two brothers.
The only potential constant in this situation, the local authority, my corporate parent, offered me little and inconsistent support in this move, and this
persisted throughout my time in the care unit. It was like the process was designed to be as difficult as possible, compounded by speaking with people
who didn’t seem to care about me in the slightest.
But the experience didn’t stop me from achieving my dreams. There was light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I had the toughest six months of my life there, but I went on to fulfil my dream and study human geography at Edinburgh.
Acknowledgement: Original Article: The Guardian May 2016