*Name has been changed.

Growing up I spent so much time moving from care home to care home. If I think back, I probably moved between 20-30 times in total between age 11 and 16. I know now that moving so often and not having somewhere I could call a safe and stable home caused serious abandonment issues for me.

I have a great relationship with my mum. Back then she tried hard to look after me but my behaviour was out of control. I have a behavioural disorder and some mental health problems, so it didn’t matter how much my mum tried, I just wouldn’t listen to her. I’d often stay out late with friends and sometimes not come home at all. At that age you think you know best and I know that’s what I thought.

I did end up getting involved with drugs and drinking. It’s easy to turn to these things when you’re not in a good place. I spent nights sleeping rough and in other unsafe places. I couldn’t see what I was doing to myself. I always felt angry, which pushed me further away from where I think I wanted to be. When someone hurt me or left me I’d self-harm. I saw it as better to hurt myself than someone else.  

When I was 16, I moved into another sort of care home. There were loads of other kids living there but not all my age. I think there were around 30 others living there whilst I did and some were as old as 24 or 25. Even then I knew this wasn’t a good place and wouldn’t be able to help me.

I ended up being referred into a supported accommodation with Llamau. It was nice there but because it was so central to the town I found it difficult to stay away from trouble. The support there was good and I think I lived there for around six months before I moved to another Llamau property.

The new property was smaller and I had more support to myself, which I know now that I needed but, if I’m completely honest, even with all the help I was receiving, I still wasn’t in the best place to receive it.

I ended up going to prison for a short time for something I didn’t do. I was pregnant at the time, and even though I was found not guilty, the nature of the crime meant that I did have my baby taken away from me at birth. It was heart-breaking. It was at this point I realised things had to change - I had to change!

When I needed that help to change, Llamau were there again, waiting for me. My Support Worker has been amazing, she’s helped me every step of the way. She’s helped me find my own home, which I really love and look after, and has helped me with my finances, so now all my bills are organised and paid each month. This kind of help has been amazing, but her help building my confidence has been the best. I’m currently pregnant and felt terrified that this baby would be taken away from me as well, but she’s helped remind me that I’ll be a good Mum, that I can do this and that I’m in a different place now.

Social Services will be involved, but the baby won’t need a child protection order, just support for us both. My Support Worker has helped make that happen and I couldn’t be more thankful to her.

My future is looking so different now. I see things in a different way thanks to the support from Llamau. For a long time, change wasn’t something I wanted but when I did, Llamau were there waiting for me.