Rakia – TACT Care Leaver
I moved in with my carers, Albert and Joyce, shortly before my 10th birthday and have been with them ever since. Albert and Joyce are brilliant carers, right from the start they made me feel safe and supported. I now refer to them as my mum and dad. By a strange coincidence we share the same surname, which makes me feel like I’m even more part of the family!
We used to go out shopping, to the cinema and to restaurants as a family, this was my favourite thing to do with them. Having these experiences, I felt as though I was no different from any other child. They have also taught me basic life skills such as cooking, cleaning and generally looking after myself.
When I first arrived, I was a very angry child. I wasn’t able to express myself or talk through the things that I was feeling. As well as giving me a safe and supportive home, Albert and Joyce helped me to learn how to control my behaviours and emotions. I think it’s really important that people don’t bottle up their feelings and have someone they can trust. Throughout my nine years living with them, I’ve seen them have the same positive effect on other children in their care.
Participating in TACT events was also a very positive experience for me. I was among children from across the UK to take part in TACT’s Children’s Champions meetings, which is an opportunity for the charity to learn from children in care’s views and experiences, to help shape its work.
I also attended TACT’s Big Weekend, which brings children together to experience outdoor activities and bond with their peers. It was a great opportunity to make friends and try new experiences, and helped me to build up my confidence and challenge my fears. I had always been scared of heights, but after finally gathering the courage to do a zipwire during Big Weekend, I absolutely love doing it now. This year I went as a mentor to one of the children, and it was great to see everyone getting along as always.
I continue to live with Albert and Joyce through Staying Put and I’m now following my dreams. I used to think I wasn’t able to do anything with my life, but through my own determination and the support of my carers I got into the university of my choice and I hope to soon teach English as a second language in Japan.
I have always wanted to be a teacher of some sort growing up. Teachers are so important and there just aren’t enough of them. I like to help people and care for them, so I am absolutely determined to make my dreams a reality and become a teacher. Japan is a really fascinating country that I’m really excited to experience. I’ve already started to learn some Japanese and Chinese, and I intend to visit soon.
My advice to others in care is to reach out to your carers if you have a problem, no matter how or big or small. They are there to support you and it’s perfectly OK to admit you need extra help. I also think it’s really important that people have the belief in themselves to achieve what they want to achieve. I think the reason that so few care leavers go on to attend university is because they think that they can’t do it. I remember thinking that I would never get the grades I needed, and some college teachers even told me as much, but I did and I’m now in a really good place in my life.