116 – All Participant ImagesPhotoVoiceSeptember 24, 2020
It's harder to access things but you're not completely shut off. It's been hard for me to open up but it feels like everything is on display.
My counsellor is the greatest dude. When I started seeing him I still had my mum's voice in my head blaming me for things. He helped me check my feelings and I knew he was on my side. Almost everyone who goes through the care system has trauma. Offer us mental health support.
I spent 10 years taking drugs. I was always out of school and hanging out with older people. My family was a recipe for disaster and school was hard. I needed an escape and there wasn't one. My drug and alcohol worker only offered support for abstinence and it wasn't relatable. We need role models who are likes and can speak to us on our level.
It's hard to take the first steps to better mental health. I always knew I suffered from mental health issues but there was no access to support. Through the GP I had to wait months and months. When I was busy thinking about where my next meal is going to come from, I couldn't look that far ahead.
This is city park in Bradford. We meet people here and rekax. We see a lot of things here like drums and bands. I've made fiends here.
A lot of social workers will say they will do something your way and then they don't do it. Some social workers help you and some don't. I would like social workers to help us.
A lot of refugees are living alone here and they must need help. They will worry about family back home. You need people to help you for the future.
A lot of people don't know how to speak English quickly. It's helpful as a refugee to live with a family who will help you learn and improve your English.
When you're 17, you get money every week but when you're 18 and you live alone, you get £240 a month and that's really hard to live on. You need one person to explain how to manage your money before you turn 18. I think a lot of 18 year olds will struggle with this.
Sometimes you have to look at the bright side. Ultimately, I am no different from any other young person and just want to be happy.
When I was 18 and began moving out of care, I feel like I was forgotten by social services and the Government. Now I battle with mental health issues and alcohol misuse. Today, I have to take 7 tablets each day because of the consequences of this.
This isn't good enough - young people who may have experienced trauma deserve specialist mental health support services as they transition into independent life.
The Government is supposed to help us, not forget us.
We are care-experienced but we should be treated as humans, the same as other young people. Not just as statistics or numbers in a database.
I fell into alcohol misuse when I left care - I drank to pass out, I drank to forget my past traumas.
It's an ongoing struggle but as I'm not getting the support I missed out on during this time, this part of my life is slowly fading away as it becomes part of my past
When I was leaving care, I was always worried about money. Social services moved me into a B&B where I struggled and lived on pot noodles and pasties for months.
B&Bs are temporary, they shouldn't be considered a home.
Throughout my battles with mental health issues, I feel like I have been passed on again and again - someone else's problem. Social services just told me to visit the doctor, one worker gave me the number for the Samaritans, that was all.
Mental health issues affect many young people leaving care but it seems that we don't deserve specialised support services.
When I left care, I was placed in B&Bs. Sometimes they would book up or you'd be kicked out for behavior and find yourself living on the streets. I was 16 the first time this happened.
You wouldn't treat your own kids like this, so why treat someone else's' this way.
If I don’t take my tablets, it can have serious consequences.
Past trauma as a child has meant I have struggled with becoming an adult. I know w my battle with mental health issues wont ever disappear, but with the correct support, it could become easier.
When I started going to other people's houses, I saw the differences in how I grew up and how they grew up. It was then a sense of ‘otherness’ set in. I would have welcomed the opportunity to meet people like me. Those with experience of care. Not to wallow, but to have fun. To build connections through casual conversations about our experiences. A space to be open, to stop hiding and feeling like the only one.
A message for other care experienced people:
Your seat at the table might be upside down but you're capable of turning it around.
A message for policymakers:
Sit us down, and listen. Don't hinder opportunities for care experienced people.
When I was 16 my social worker told me I was too old for a fostering placement, and that I wouldn’t survive in a children’s home. My neighbour agreed to be a temporary guardian. That was the last interaction I remember with any social worker. At 18 I really needed help, but didn’t know who to turn to or where to go. Attempts to make contact with care leavers should continue so we know where to turn to when in need.
One day someone might pick you up from school, take you away and you won’t know if you're ever going home. Once I was placed in South London. Every morning I would get on the P12, and then the 148 and then the 52 to get to primary school in West London. It took two hours, and I would travel on my own. Children should be placed in their area for safeguarding and to have reasonable access to education.
“My journey looked a little different to those around me. I’d switch between environments and it would create obstacles of all shapes and sizes. When you get taken into care you're separated from everything. Parents, belongings, anything that feels familiar. There should be immediate wellbeing support available to young people adjusting to unknown care homes and returning to the houses they were taken from. ”
“Mental health is unique to everyone. To understand the case, you need to understand the individual. My mother had the same Social Worker for 18 years. He was alert to changes in her behaviour, and took action. Early intervention helped to keep my mum stable, supported and safe for long periods. This kept me out of the care system.”
Communication can stop confusion. We need more clear information.