Close Menu

Managing the transition from foster care to independence- a young person’s journey

Friday 03 June 2016

When I left my foster home, getting support became a nightmare

Local authorities need to do more to manage the uncertainty, desolation and confusion that young people face when moving between homes

When tensions in my foster home reached new heights, it was time to leave. And every step of the process was a messy nightmare.It was April 2008; I was a few months away from my final A-level exams and a summer of work, before heading off to Scotland. I dreamed
of studying at Edinburgh University and living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Things had become increasingly fragile and tense at the foster home I had lived in for more than seven years, and after exploring every route possible
and trying to reconcile relationships, the placement had eventually broken down.

The decision was all mine, and it was the biggest jump I had ever made. I was entering the unknown. Where will I be moved to? Will I have any support?
Will I be safe?

Start your fostering journey today

A few hours later, after a lot of help from school friends who knew London well, I found out how to get to this new place, and travelled the 90-minute
journey to get there on my own. I arrived in the early evening to a building which looked like a prison. I was greeted by smiley but confused workers
who weren’t expecting me. They said they didn’t have a room for me. Panic set in.

It took several phone calls to the care-unit manager and out-of-hours local authority staff to confirm I was due to stay at this unit after all.

It was a bright, warm day but the windows of the unit were closed, and a few of them had been boarded up with wood – it looks like they had been smashed
quite recently. The place felt dangerous and edgy. And edgy was how I was feeling. How could I live here? I traipsed up to the second floor of the
dark and desolate building with my key and bag of clothes in hand.

I went inside my new home and locked the door behind me as quickly as I could. By now I wanted to escape everyone, and I wanted to escape the whole day.
I was truly drained and the realisation of my isolation and vulnerability started to sink in. Living in a tiny room, surrounded by people I didn’t

I had to cook, clean, wash clothes and fend for myself, as well as travel for three hours a day to school and study for my final exams. I had lots to do
as deputy head boy, but I now lived much further away from my school, my friends and my two brothers.

The only potential constant in this situation, the local authority, my corporate parent, offered me little and inconsistent support in this move, and this
persisted throughout my time in the care unit. It was like the process was designed to be as difficult as possible, compounded by speaking with people
who didn’t seem to care about me in the slightest.

But the experience didn’t stop me from achieving my dreams. There was light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I had the toughest six months of my life
there, but I went on to fulfil my dream and study human geography at Edinburgh.

I loved every minute of it. I made lifelong friends, have the best of memories and achieved a 2:1. I got on to one of the best graduate schemes in
the country and today I’m a manager in the health service. I lead a happy, successful life.
It is possible to thrive after experiencing unsettling transitions. But it shouldn’t have been so difficult and, if my experience is anything to go
by, corporate parents need to do more to manage the uncertainty, desolation and confusion that young people face when moving between homes.

Acknowledgement: Original Article: The Guardian May 2016


This new series aims to show what working in social care is really like. If you’d like to write for the series, email [email protected]

Find out if you could be a foster carer
Find out if you could be a foster carer
In a few simple questions, you’ll know if you’re suitable to apply to become a foster carer.