Here, some of our care leavers share their story. If you’d like to share your story with us, please use the box below
My name is Tommy Wardle and I am a young person who was in care. I first came into care when I was three years old. So for the most part I didn’t really know what was going on. With my story it wasn’t that I was a bad child or I misbehaved, it was because my parents couldn’t look after me. My mum and dad couldn’t look after me due to their own personal issues with drink and misuse and abusive behaviour and it wasn’t pleasant. Even at a young age and going into care it was hard to understand exactly what was going on and what effect it would have on me in later life.
Growing up in care had its ups and downs. My experiences of being fostered have been a rollercoaster journey which wasn’t easy at all. My environment I lived in before I found what would be my long term home was horrible; I got moved around a lot and found it strange to go from home to home, new social workers and all these people around and not really having a clue that they all were.
Having ADHD really didn’t help either and got progressively worse during school and college times. I hated growing up in this foster care world and thought everything was my fault.
At aged 6 I finally moved into my “long term home” and continued with this family till I was 25 and moved out June last year. During my time with my foster parents, I sadly lost both parents due to their issues and it hit me hard as I always thought this was my fault. I got depressed and my school work took a hit during my GCSES. For anyone even in care or not to lose both parents between ages 15 -17 are hard enough but in care you have so many questions.
I didn’t have many friends at school or growing up so led a quite secluded life. So even with all this going on I got into carnival. It was something that kept my mind not overthinking and got me a few handy skills. I met tons of new people and boosted my confidence so much and started to come out of my shell. I performed in front of 70,000
people and made me feel so happy. Now in my 14th year and now continuing to keep it up and enjoy all the perks with it.
With all the bad bits, I managed to get in to hospitality. My love for cooking and my people’s skills I finished a diploma in hospitality and cooking and got a real buzz for it and even taught a few young people on good cooking skills. With over 10 years’ experience of catering I decided for a change, where I came to work for Somerset County council as an apprentice in business support for SEND team (Special Educational Needs And Disability’s) where I am learning various things with children’s services. With this job and in near completion of a diploma in business support and customer service, I’ve gone onto write various blogs for fostering and adoption and even apprenticeship week for SCC. I’ve met some incredible young people and leaving care workers who even got me to write this blog I’m writing now.
So, with all this said, even if you’re going through a really hard time and you’re in care and don’t think you’re going to get anywhere, DON’T. Honestly I was like that and I’ve come out the other side happy, I found my dream job and gone onto doing great things and you can to. It’s always going to be hard and times you want to give up, throw in the towel or think there’s no point, but imagine what it will be like when you look back and smile at it all.
Take a step be brave and hold your head high, your incredible amazing people who have all gone through so much.
I hope your journey will be a happy one and keep positive.
Tommy j Wardle
My name is Jade Gillard; I am 23 and I’m a care leaver. Currently I work for Somerset County Council as a participation apprentice for children looked after and care leavers. I am working towards a level 2 diploma in Customer Service which I am due to finish 3rd May.
I am almost at the point of completing my diploma, although there was a point in December 2016 that I thought passing was impossible with the amount of coursework left to do after returning from maternity leave. When you have a baby it feels like your brain turns to mush and I am told by many people that this will never go away however it is now April 2017 and I now strongly believe anything is achievable when you put your mind to it. I have experienced many different types of work within my role and made many achievements along the way which I’d like to thank Somerset County Council for giving me the opportunity to develop so much
I have always been a kind, caring person with interests to better the lives of others to which I tend to put other people’s needs before my own. Since being in Foster Care and a looked after child, I have developed my skills and confidence to be happy with who I am. This was made possible because I opened up all my feelings and worries to my Foster Carer, each day that I lived there we chipped away at all of the things that made me feel so bad in the past.
When I became independent and moved into supported accommodation I felt that I had so much more freedom, as a young adult I started to become reckless due to my lack of responsibilities. I chose the wrong group of people to mix with which had a negative effect on my life causing me to be in trouble with the police, amongst other things.
A criminal record never goes away. I would like to say from one young person to many others who may be reading this that it is so important to make sure your actions portray your future. It has taken many years for me to recognise what things I could have done differently, but I do not live with regrets because the way I live, thought and the experiences I had made me the person I am today.
I was diagnosed with depression many years ago but I do not believe this is the right term for how I feel. Sometimes in life things get tough and everyone is allowed to have a bad day; if you have a run of distressing events this can be mistaken for ‘depression’. I believe I was categorised as suffering from depression when this is something different.
Today I am a happily married young woman with a beautiful baby; I am very resilient and hardworking. I am also enthusiastic whilst at work, often in the hope I can empower and inspire young people with my presence and knowledge given all of my experiences.
I live day by day believing I will get out of my life exactly what I am willing to put into it. Yes sometimes I get nervous about things but doesn’t everyone? Since becoming an apprentice and working alongside the Somerset in Care and Leaving Care Council I have gained the belief that if you believe, you can achieve.
‘Team work makes the dream work’. A slogan created in our team building residential trip for the group, I strongly believe in this slogan. I use it in my professional work and my personal life. Often I will remind my husband that if we work as a team, we will live the dream.
I am frequently told by managers and colleagues that I need to believe in myself more because I am very capable. I often forget these things and find it quite difficult to pull out positive things about myself; it is easier to pick faults with yourself than pick out positive things. I am getting better at this though.
I hope reading this gives you an insight into making a positive change in your life. I have written my story which is only a short snippet of my life, in the hope it helps encourages other care leavers and young people in care to share their stories. I also hope this gives you some support in your current situation. I find writing and sharing your story can help you with your emotions and can feel like a ‘vent’.
I wish everyone the best in their futures and wish all of you to aspire for great things as you deserve the best chance in life.
Thank you for reading my story, I would love to read yours too.
Hello, I’m Kane Clarke and I am also a care leaver. Firstly, I would just like to say well done to the individuals who have also written their story here. Just by reading these snippets of your life I can see that you have achieved SO much!
I went into foster care at the age of 9 and I am now 25. I survived it and came out the other end, having successfully completed school, college and now working in fulltime, permanent employment for Children’s Social Care at Somerset County Council. I thoroughly enjoy my work as it gives me reason to get out of bed in the morning and contribute to society, which I feel is incredibly important for your self-worth. I am a Business Support Assistant within the Independent Safeguarding Unit and I organise the child protection conferences for the Taunton and West Somerset areas. My job is extremely busy, but I enjoy this as it keeps me on my toes and even more importantly, is very meaningful work as it means I can contribute to the safeguarding of children.
I started working for Somerset County Council in 2013 when my Leaving Care Worker informed me of a scheme driven to employ young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. I applied to be considered under this scheme and was successful. So, I joined the Business Change team (then known as The Change Programme) where I took on the role as an Intern (as I had A-Levels, but not a degree so couldn’t be a graduate). This was a very varied job and enabled me to meet a lot of new faces here at the council which would stand me in good stead for my future links and work networks. My role as an Intern in The Change Programme consisted of me supporting Project and Programme Managers in the delivery of projects/programmes from right across the council, including the SMART working programme and SMART office projects across Somerset. I provided administrative support to these colleagues including arranging meetings and minute taking at project/programme boards and other meetings.
I then went on to work for the Somerset School Admissions team which I also really enjoyed as this was also extremely busy. The team was great and very supportive – I am very grateful for that experience. That then lead me onto work for Children’s Social Care which is where I am now.
My time in foster care wasn’t a bad experience. I always say that it saved me from what I was being exposed to at that point in my childhood and although at the time it was the last thing I would have wanted to happen to me; going into foster care, it was definitely the best thing that could have happened to me and I am extremely thankful to have been saved. My parents aren’t or weren’t bad people, they just have significant struggles which have an effect on their ability to always see past their own needs. This unfortunately meant that they were not able to look after me, which at the time was very confusing for me as my parents were my world and they could have never done anything wrong from my perspective at that time. So, I am sure my experiences as a child have had an effect on me to a point, but I have always remained focused and determined to strive to be the best that I can be.
I don’t find writing the easiest of things, but gave it a shot anyway. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Changing the Narrative of the Care System
Who in the care system has made the biggest difference to you and why?