*Name has been changed

"I always knew that foster care would end when I was 17 but that doesn’t mean I was ready for it."

Social Services have been involved in my life since I was born. Before I was born, my mum had my brother and couldn’t look after him properly so they had to remain in our lives to make sure I was looked after, but I wasn’t.

My mum and dad are both alcoholics. They spent more time focusing on getting money for alcohol than paying our rent and buying us food. To start with I was taken away from my mum and went to live with my dad. Social Services wanted to give him a chance to look after me, but he couldn’t do it properly so I was moved into foster care. I think I was about six when I first went into care.

Foster care hasn’t been the best for me. I’ve had three different placements in total since I first went in. I can’t remember why my first placement didn’t work out but I was only young when I was moved into my next one. I spent a few years with her but then she decided she wanted to start looking after children with special needs, so I had to leave. I don’t think it’s fair that foster carers are allowed to just change their mind about caring for someone like me. One day I was there and then I had to move again.

I did stay in the same school throughout my time in care but I hardly went in. I was bullied quite a lot because the other kids thought it was funny that I was in care. I did have a few friends and still have them now though, so that’s something.

I lived with my last foster carer, Karen*, until I was 17. She was really nice and made me feel part of the family. I knew I wasn’t her daughter but I did feel like it sometimes. My brother lived with us for a bit but he didn’t settle in, so we were separated. I struggled without him and missed him a lot for the few weeks after he left, but I know now that he needed to be happy with his new home too.

I always knew that foster care would end when I was 17 but that doesn’t mean I was ready for it. Covid did cause a delay with my move out but then one day I had a call from my Social Worker to tell me I was moving out the next day. Just like that. I felt surprised by the call coming in like it did, but I think I was used to having to make changes in my life that I wasn’t ready to make, so I just got on with it and started packing. I felt scared, excited, sad, emotional and happy all at the same time.

My Social Worker brought me to live with Llamau at one of their supported accommodations. The other people here have also been in care or had Social Services in their lives so, even though it felt weird moving in, I did settle in well with everyone. I did also still get to see Karen on my 18th birthday, so that was nice.

I do like it here. Everyone is nice and they all try and help me with different things. I’m learning to become more independent and look after myself. When I first moved in all I’d eat was packet noodles because I had no motivation to learn to cook but the staff here have made the effort to show me how to cook for myself. I can make things like pasta bake and cheese and potato pie now. I’m also much better at budgeting my money. Before I’d spend all I had in a day but it lasts so much longer now.

It’s nice to have people around you who show you every day that they care about you. I have tried to build a relationship with my mum and dad, but it’s really hard. They don’t seem to want that relationship. I am trying to accept that and get on with my life. I’m studying in college and feel like I’m much stronger now. What’s happened so far is in my past. I can't change that, but I can move forward.