Friday, 19 June 2015

Timing out of Care - our experiences

I think the social worker who had the prime responsibility for Ella and I when we left the Children’s Home didn’t like us. Perhaps not openly, but certainly in practice. In the time leading up to us leaving we had been promised a two bedroom flat in a block quite close to the Children’s Home and about a 20 minute walk from the school where we had just started year 13. But neither promise was kept. We ended up in separate flats about 100 yards apart and about a 40 minute walk from the school. We were told the decision had been made and that we hadn’t any more say in the matter. Luckily when we were taken down to our new homes we quite liked them. I could see Ella’s window from mine and it became a regular game for me to give her three rings on my mobile phone to get her attention and then to wave across at her. We used to take it in turns to cook and after tea we used to do our homework sitting at the table and then watch a bit of TV. Then the “visitor” would go back to their own home.
I still cannot drive down the road where the two flats were without remembering those days that now seem so long ago. 
It sounds like we were having a good time and I suppose we were but all the time money was a problem. So was our lack of experience in running a home, our loneliness and my uncertainties about what I wanted to do next. I could not have coped even in these early days without Ella and I am convinced that something quite major must have gone wrong with our agreed support packages. My feeling is that it hardly seemed to exist. Visits from Social Workers, if they happened at all, were very short and with a lot of looking at watches as if they always had somewhere more important to be.
 I don’t understand how any 18 year old could REALLY be expected to run a house, do A2 level course work and have any sort of quality of life with so little support.
I think the main things I would say about this time in my life are:
  1. Promises made to young people before and leaving care should be kept. Otherwise don’t make them.
  2. Explaining my life history again and again to each new social worker was boring, upsetting and a waste of time. At least twice I never even saw the person again.
  3. Don’t expect many care leavers to have a close friend to help them. Ella and I were so lucky to have each other but did Social Services know or care?
  4.  In almost every case discretionary means no.
  5. Be ambitious for yourself and for those you love. You only get one shot at the 16-21 period of your life and if you just drink, smoke and hang around in the town centre causing low level disruption you will live to regret it!
I will always remember how I was mercilessly flamed on at least two separate occasions for writing about this time of my life. I had posted it to a forum that I now choose not to give the “oxygen of publicity”. Some of the readers were social workers themselves and as far as they were concerned they were pretty close to perfect. So if anything went wrong it was either due to Government policy or due to the clients themselves.

1 comment:

  1. Even though I moved away from home when I was 18, I don't know how I would have managed without the support (emotional and at times financial) of my parents. You are both so incredibly strong and wise beyond your years.