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Young person E - stories for Plymouth's care leavers

Hello to all the social workers and professionals that have been involved with me and other young people throughout our journeys into care.

From the age of 13, I have been in care. I have overcome many obstacles and challenges thrown at me, during the past few years. Reflecting on the past and some of the homes I went to I feel that the first place was not a safe environment for young people because the doors never locked, more often they would be left open for anyone to enter at any time. It was a really scary placement because you never knew who would walk in and why.

I know I was not perfect but a lot of things had happen which lead to me going into care and even though the foster carers were aware I was self-harming they did nothing to stop this, in fact it became so bad I was hospitalised and it took a wonderful nurse who saved my life.

Thankfully, she worked with me and talked and listened to my views and she took my concerns on board on and advocated for me not to return to that placement and the council found me a more suitable placement.

I thought the next placement was the best, although they struggled to cope with my mental health and self-harming and eventually begged for me to be sectioned. It was a really scary time and I resorted to self-harming as a coping measure to release stress and make myself feel better, it wasn't that I really wanted to harm myself.

In time I went from placement to placement and it felt like I was abandoned by the workers meant to support me because they changed so often, even last week I was not sure who some workers who should be working with me were.

I have felt as if my voice was lost in the process because social workers, teachers and everyone around me failed to hear what I had to say. This made me feel like an abandoned homeless animal and I felt like things were never going to get better.

I think my time in care was the hardest thing I've gone through and no child should ever have to go through that alone like I did, no matter what their circumstances.

I carried on moving around until quite recent when I finally got my own home, my own space! A home which nobody can take away that I can put my own mark on and have just how I like it. This is something all care leavers dream about, especially when you have never really settled in any placements. Even though sometimes I am overwhelmed by my feelings and thoughts like being alone now and not having someone to remind me to tidy the room, lock the door do the washing etc.

I feel social workers and other professionals need to listen to what their young person is saying and take our concerns seriously. I was lucky that I still have and continue to get support from my family but some young people don't and I dread to know how they feel going through the system and dealing with the minefield of placements, social workers and other professionals because it is not easy.

I look forward to one day being signed off as a care leaver and not needing social care support anymore because that will be amazing.

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