I was 6 years old when I was first placed into care. At 14, I moved in with Jillian and Ronald, who I continue to live with to this day. Jillian and Ron completely turned my life around and have had massive positive impact on me. They treated me like their own daughter and I really felt like I was a part of the family.
I was really shy when I first moved in and barely said a word for the first two months. But Jillian worked hard to coax me out of my shell. She would invite me to join her on shopping trips, or to join in when the family was playing games. She would also ask me open-ended questions that required more than just a yes or no answer, and eventually I found my voice.
Now we have had so many good memories together. We have a caravan which we use to go away quite often, which is where I am right now. On this trip we were in an arcade and Jillian got in a virtual rollercoaster with me that chucks you around like the real thing. She is terrified of heights and didn’t realise how realistic it would be, and she was screaming at the top of her lungs. We have so many of these funny, happy memories.
Right now I’m studying for a Higher National Diploma at college, and soon I hope to go to university to study Additional Support Needs. I’ve also had hands-on experience working in a school with a young boy with autism. I think growing up in care has led me down this path, and I feel that having had that experience will help me to empathise with the people that I hope to help.
Coronavirus hasn’t had too much of an impact on my plans. Of course, all my classes are virtual at the moment. My learning hasn’t really been affected as we are still really well supported. The only difference is that it’s a shame I haven’t been able to meet with my new classmates in person. We’ve had some zoom calls together but of course it’s not the same. In general, we’ve coped well as a family. We have done our best to carry on as normal, like baking and being really competitive at card games.