TACT Care Leaver
I am 20 years old and I went into care, along with my older sisters, shortly after I was born due to fact that our mother and father both had drug and alcohol problems, and neglected us.
I don’t have any real memory of my first foster placement as I was so young, but at ten months old I was adopted by a couple, who, when I was two, split up, and I remained with my adoptive mother. Unfortunately, our relationship started to break down because she was alcohol dependent and abusive, and that, coupled with discovering that I was pregnant with my daughter Naomi, led me to going back into care when I was 16.
When I returned to care I was referred to fostering and adoption charity TACT. The plan was for me to go into a mother and baby placement, so I could be assessed for my parenting skills and then move on to independent living. However, my first two mother and baby placements broke down, and at first I thought it was the fault of the carers, but I realise now it was because I just didn’t want to have an assessment to prove I’m a good mum.
My social worker and independent reviewing officer realised the root of the problem and they arranged for me to return to my favourite TACT foster carers Kris and Dave, without having to be subjected to a parenting assessment. I loved it at Kris and Dave’s, I felt part of the family, they looked after me and supported me. I remember Kris threw me a little baby shower and I was so overwhelmed I cried. I used to love the little things like sitting and watching dramas with Kris and we’d talk loads, or when Dave would make me belly laugh. My daughter Naomi used to find Dave’s silly faces funny too. In the summer they took me and my foster sister to loads of places like London and Hunstanton. They always treated us well and made us laugh and comforted us when we needed to be, and we had the best meals!
Going in to care in my teens was at times stressful and emotional but overall it was actually a positive experience. It gave me a voice for the first time, I actually felt valued and respected, what I had to say mattered. Instead of my life being in the professionals’ hands it was in mine and they helped me along the way. I was taught how to manage my money and budget and I was given advice about education and my options as well as how to deal with my relationships. Through TACT I was also given therapy to help me deal with the past which was amazing and super helpful.
Eventually, at the age of 17, I was ready to move on to independent living with my daughter Naomi. Leaving Kris and Dave was stressful, but I think moving out of a family home always is. I got my flat very quickly and I loved it, my TACT social workers came with me to view it and sign the contract and Kris and Dave helped me move in and set up my bills. I was given a grant to furnish my flat which made me feel spoilt and once I had moved in I felt very grown up. Suddenly I had it all, which I never imagined would be possible when I was living with my adoptive mother.
After I moved out I went back to college where I studied health and social care level 3, I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to help people like me. One day my personal adviser, Frank, told me about an apprenticeship run by the Rank Foundation group which provides young people with the opportunity to work in a field of their choice and get involved in the community. So I applied, traveled to London for an interview, and very soon after I discovered I was successful. It all happened so fast. And having decided I wanted to use the apprenticeship to work with children in care, TACT Peterborough took me on as an Assistant Children’s Resource Worker. I am so excited about the opportunity, and I’m hoping to work with children and young people living in foster care, social workers and foster carers with anything I possibly can, such as speaking on behalf of the person at child care reviews or other appointments and working as an advocate.
I am in a good place in my life right now, and I can attribute a lot of that to the opportunities, support, love and stability that I received whilst in foster care. I want to say to Kris and Dave, and indeed all foster carers, keep doing what you’re doing, which isn’t easy so hats off to you guys, and thank you for giving children and young people better futures.