A care leaver is a young person between the ages of 16 and 25 who has at some point been looked after away from their family.
The period between being in care and then becoming a care leaver can be a very daunting experience, especially at such a young age.
As part of Care leavers week we have invited some of our young care leavers to share their experiences, advice, their stories, and their plans and aspirations for the future.
We have been extremely moved by some of the young people’s accounts and other than small changes to in some cases maintain anonymity, the inspiring words spoken are by the young care leavers themselves.
All care leavers were asked the same questions, and the answers show that their personal circumstances and personalities have meant that they have all had quite different experiences to each other.
We hope that their words will offer comfort, advice and inspiration to other young adults in similar situations…
I am 18, soon to be 19. I have lived in Wrexham all my life, and am currently doing an apprenticeship in management. After leaving school with 12 GCSE’s , which was unexpected and I am very proud of myself.
I have a boyfriend of 2 and half years, 2 dogs and a cat. I learnt to drive when I was 17, passed for the first time and bought my own car. I have come a long way to get to this point and am very optimistic about my future.
I have enrolled in a business management degree at university, which I can do part time while working, which is the best option for me as I can learn and earn at the same time.
Like a lot of girls my age I am passionate about makeup and fashion. I have been doing an accredited online course for make up, I have also been doing make up for family friends for weddings and parties etc.
I enjoy going to the gym because it’s a nice way to unwind after working and it improves how I feel. I like to bake and also like eating the end result haha!!
I entered the care system at a very young age, although I was so young I do remember life before going into foster care. It’s strange because I have very mixed emotions about these memories. I spent 5 years with a lovely couple however circumstances changed. After this I was moved around and my teenage years were very difficult due to this. There just wasn’t a right fit between myself and the foster families.
When I was 14 my dad passed away, and also the foster carer I was living with suddenly passed away, within months of each other. As you can imagine my emotions were all over the place and it was very hard for years. What followed was a lot of short term placements and insecurities. If it wasn’t for the support of the school and my long term social worker of 11 years, I don’t know how I would’ve dealt with this period.
I was angry and very lost and undertook counselling to help me make sense of my feelings.
In December 2016, I was put into an emergency placement with somebody I knew. At the start it was very hard to settle in and process all the stuff that had happened in the past.
However, 5 years later I am still here. I class them as my real family now and I am very happy.
They have taught me life skills I never would’ve had, how to manage my money, and not just a house but a home. I feel very safe here, secure and loved which I have never felt before.
The transition from 16-18 years old was not very noticeable, in terms of the care situation. This was due to still having the same social worker throughout and the family I was with arguing I can stay on as a leaving care young person. I feel like I was very independent anyways so there was not much improvement to have.
I have been placed on the housing list, however I am currently saving for a deposit on my own house and saved quite a bit. Honestly I would not have believed that I would have achieved this even last year.
As I mentioned earlier I am due to start a degree and even though I will still be living at home and working, I am entitled to support as a leaving care person. Which will really help me financially. I have been guided through these processes and opportunities by my lovely Personal Assistant.
At the moment I am working towards finishing my level 3 apprenticeship (A level equivalent) and earning money at the same time. I feel as if an apprenticeship was more suitable for me as I have a strong work ethic and was very keen to learn life skills. I’m the future I am hoping to use my business degree to take on a management role in a business.
I think I will be putting a deposit on my own house in the next few years and maybe travelling a bit more if these restrictions lift soon.
Looking back just over 5 short years, it hasn’t been easy and I had to work at relationships and at expressing my feelings, without frustration and anger. I find it much easier now. I have a lot more independence and support when I need it. I am very confident and freely can do what I want, driving especially helps as it’s giving me independence and a sense of achievement.
To anyone reading this who feels like it’s a bit of a bleak outlook, find the right people, find the right support and work on yourself, and things will seem a lot clearer.
If you are a care leaver and would like advice please contact: The Leaving Care Team on 01978295610
If you would like more information on becoming a foster carer please contact: Taylor Downes 01978295316 , Taylor.Downes@wrexham.gov.uk
If you would like to find more information on offering supported lodgings, please contact: Sara Jones – firstname.lastname@example.org, 01978295320
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