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Young person C - stories for Plymouth's care leavers

Walk in my shoes

Birth. I open my lungs and both my mouth and eyes cry. That first intake of breath, a bittersweet start to a life flying by.

Let's jump to when I was four. That first trip into the unknown, torn from my family, the start of the fall.

First there were four siblings, placed in two homes in sets of two, all fostered then two adopted and now there's one new.

All three are now gone, all given away, to a new home afar, where they will stay.

My older sister and I are feeling abandoned, our siblings now gone, for that we're more saddened.

Our foster home was different, religion forced down our throats, clothes and toys locked away, left only with hopes.

In and out of respite when she visited family, still not truly wanted, now this is a tragedy.

Come six I was torn away again, more loss, more goodbyes, to go and live in hell, with the devil is disguise.

Uncleanliness covered our new home, the stench of unimaginable things polluted the air and a dark foreboding that sunk into the bone.

Constant bullying at school, 'your hair's greasy', 'oh here comes the mouse', 'I can play dot to dot with your face'... I hated myself.

My only escape was my friend down the road, but I left my sister within my not so welcome abode.

A while later my sister moved in with our mum, leaving me with our father, an unruly scum.

Some time when I was eleven, I was removed from my warm bed, I was questioned like a criminal, my heart filled with dread.

Removed from my so called father's care, I was taken to my mums and now I will stay there.

Another two kids my mother had, two more kids from another dad. So now there are four for my mother to raise, although through a drunken haze.

Social workers continued to examine my life, after counselling and court cases, all full of strife.

We moved a few times but was never stable, my mum became spiteful, my life's no fable.

My older sister and mum constantly fighting, slapping each other, constant backbiting.

She put herself in care and the blame turned to me, everything my fault, mum wouldn't let me be.

The drinking got worse as I got older, her words became sharper, her actions got bolder.

I'd tell social workers I was fine, until one day mum crossed the line.

She would drink everyday as well as smoke weed, she got violent and cruel, but would deny her mean deeds.

I'd had enough of the pain, her words pierced like daggers, I'd had enough of the strain, nothing else matters.

Myself and the two little ones were taken away, a cycle almost full circle, in care we will stay.

My fifteenth birthday I had in care, I was put in a lovely place, though it was hard to bare.

I missed my mum but I couldn't forgive her and she blamed me for the loss of my younger brother and sister.

They went to one home, I went to another, my mum got more ill, which we will soon uncover.

I joined a group at the time known as LACC, full of kids just like me, we were there to fight back.

To a system that needed a repair, to help kids in care to know they are there.

A year or so later my mum took her own life, she went up in flames to end her own strife.

She was committed to Glenbourne and was there once or twice, I was sixteen years old when she ended her life.

She asked for more help but they turned her away, and now six feet under is where she will stay.

The last time I saw her was in a hospital bed, tubes and wires crawled from her body, I felt nothing but dread.

Results arriving, she was brain dead, the fumes of the fire, fucked up her head.

She had an illness that was hidden from sight, BPD and depression, a god awful fight.

My depression got worse when she arrived in the hearse, now each year to the day my eyes begin to burst.

I got help for my mental health. Medication and counselling, but I was never myself.

None of these helped but I fought every day for the pain to go away. I still have days were my mind goes astray.

At nineteen it doesn't really get better from here, my foster mum got ill, the big C to fear.

Tests came back and we found out it was terminal, at twenty-one there was another funeral.

Through all the pain, the grief and the stress, it's not all bad now, my life not such a mess.

I did my A-level exams and an apprenticeship too, my hearts not so heavy, my emotions not so blue.

I still attend meetings for kids in care, I still have my boyfriend who's always been there.

I have my own place, a hard working career, a car that gives freedom, now where to from here?

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