Date: 23rd October 2017
TACT Care Leaver
As a 13 year old there are a lot of changes and challenges in your life, but being placed in care makes it a particularly confusing time. I wasn’t really aware of why I had to be placed with Jacky – before I moved in with her, I was with an emergency placement that I stayed with for almost a year. Leaving this placement was ever so hard. I didn’t know why I had to live there, I had difficulty adapting to the new people around me and I was generally struggling to accept that I was in care.
I could be quite stubborn at times (Jacky tells me now that I was at that age!) and as a result I struggled to open up to her at first. It took me a year before I began to feel much more comfortable and began to share my feelings with her. Once we were able to open up to each other, Jacky became the supportive arm around my shoulder I needed. She helped me come to terms with things, and made me have a better understanding of myself.
The pivotal moment in my relationship with Jacky was when, as a 14 year old, I felt confident enough to disclose some really personal information to Jacky. The way she dealt with things was incredible and straight away she took the right steps to help me cope a little better. Due to my disclosure, I had to attend court when I was 16. Those 4 days were some of the most difficult of my life, but the help and support I got from Jacky and her daughter Sam helped me through it. I think when I found the courage to open up to Jacky was when our relationship really got strong, and it remains so to this day.
As well as the tough times Jacky helped me with to do with the court case, she was also a supportive influence throughout the rest of my teenage years. She helped me to get myself a laptop that helped me out with my English revision, and when she saw I was struggling with Maths she got me a tutor, which had an enormous impact on my learning. She would sit down with me to look at college prospectus’ and together we decided what I’d like to do as I moved forward. These are all things which some people will take for granted – but I wouldn’t know what I know today or be where I am without the support she gave me throughout this time.
I’m also appreciative of TACT, who found me someone that I could confide in. They arranged days out for the carers and foster children, and would come out to see how I was doing which was nice. Mostly though, I appreciated the fact that Jacky had someone to go to for help if she needed it. You hear some bad stories about the care system, but I had a positive experience of being in care and I would never be ashamed to admit that. I would say to those who have looked at TACT and were thinking about fostering to just be yourself. It can be difficult at first to live with a stranger, but what you end up doing is making a young person’s life positive again and make them realise their worth – to me, that’s an incredibly special thing.
Next summer it will be 10 years since Jacky fostered me and I have so much to thank her for. Our relationship hasn’t changed at all since I became a care leaver – I still go to her when I need her or just to hear her voice. Her children have become my family and when I go back home now I’m like part of the furniture.
To me she’s no longer my ‘carer’, she’s my mum.