I never imagined growing up that I would one day own my own business. I was put into care at the age of 14, having suffered years of abuse while living with my family. My initial experiences in the care system weren’t good and I always felt like the odd one out. However, my final foster carer was an amazing woman called Angela, who was like a 2nd mum to me. She taught me so much and helped me to grow more than anyone else has. She helped me to understand how I could be myself, and not let my past experiences define me and control my life.
She never pushed me to talk but was always there for me when I needed to talk through any issues. Even when I started to behave in a silly way towards the end of time with her, she never once lost her temper and always just tried to support me. It’s really important that foster carers are patient and go at the speed the child wants, and I’m really grateful that Angela gave me the time to develop and work through things at my own pace.
Through living with Angela, I came to experience what it was like to live in a happy and loving family. She gave her foster children a real experience of family life by taking us on lots of fun days out and holidays. Foster children don’t need expensive things, we just need to be shown what being in a family is like.
These experiences gave me the best possible chance to thrive in my adult life, and I now own my company called Four Paws that walks, trains and provides day-care for dogs. I employ one person full-time, have two volunteers and given an opportunity for 8 others to go on to do amazing jobs elsewhere, which I’m really proud of. Our aim is to help owners with their pets and to provide a loving service and to help them feel safe and secure with their animals in our hands.
I’d grown up around dogs and always knew that I wanted to make a career out of working with them. Like any amazing mum, Angela helped me to believe that I could achieve any goal I set myself as long as I put the effort in and to never give up on what I believed in.
My advice to others who are about to leave care is never give up. Even when things seem dark and you feel as though your life isn’t going anywhere, just keep going because I promise that one day everything will make sense. You have a great opportunity ahead of you and it’s your choice what you want to do with it. So, think hard about your decisions and don’t rush into anything. Most importantly, do what’s right for you.