*Names and images have been changed

I was first taken into care at the age of 6, and moved between three different placements between then and the age of 17.

When I was first taken into foster care at 6 years old, I felt so confused and angry that sometimes I used to head-butt the walls as a way of coping with the way I was feeling.

When I was 9, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I remember it like it happened yesterday. My foster carer at the time was worried about some of my symptoms and took me to the GP. I was told to come back the next day, but my foster carer took me to the A&E department at the Heath hospital that night. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and the doctor at the hospital said that if I hadn’t come in that evening I would probably have died.

At first, when I found out I had Type 1 Diabetes, I actually thought it was a joke. I was only 9 years old at the time and I didn’t really understand. It wasn’t until I was about 17 years old that I really understood the seriousness of my illness, and that I would have to manage my diabetes for the rest of my life.

Learning how to manage my illness at such a young age, at the same time as moving between multiple care placements and social workers, was very difficult, but I was determined to go to school and earn my GCSEs.

It wasn’t easy. I struggled with ADHD, but as I grew older I learnt how to manage my ADHD and became more focused at school.

I moved back into my parents’ house temporarily when I was 18, but had to leave after a minor incident with the police.

I was moved into an emergency room in one of Llamau’s housing projects. After that, I moved into a more permanent placement in another Llamau house, where I lived for just over a year. I came very close to living on the streets. If it had come to that, I don’t know how I would have been able to cope with my illness.

I had a positive attitude about moving to Llamau. I saw it as an opportunity for a fresh start and it was good to meet people my own age with similar experiences to mine. I took part in cooking workshops and house meetings, which helped me to socialise and learn how to voice my opinion on house matters.

Growing up, I’d never had a relationship with any social worker that lasted longer than 2-3 months. The difference with Llamau was the level of support, which helped me to move out of supported accommodation and into my own flat.

Now, I’m living in my own flat and managing my own finances and bills. I’m also involved in Voices From Care ‘5 Nations, 1 Voice’, which brings together care leavers from across Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with government to discuss how things can be improved for children in care.

Being involved in 5 Nations 1 Voice means I can share my experience as a care leaver to try make things better for other children in care. It’s not fair that, as a care leaver, a lot of people just assume you’re a criminal or dangerous. Sometimes you speak to people and they say they feel sorry for your situation, but they don’t really understand. I want to be there for young people who are going through what I went through, so they have someone to talk to who understands.