As told by Tim’s Supervising Social Worker
Tim’s father was a serving member of the Forces and as such, much of his early childhood was spent moving around both England and Germany. At the age of 13, Tim and his family were living on a HM Forces base in Germany. Tim was, as he now realises, pushing the boundaries with his parents and arguments were a daily occurrence. His father often drank to excess and when drunk, would resort to violence, often against Tim, who got the blame for all family problems.
Tim had a friend in Germany and the pair would often bunk off school together. On one occasion, they stole some fireworks from a shop and let them off in a field. One of the fireworks caused a fire which results in a farmer losing a full barn of hay, the barn, a combine harvester and a tractor.
Tim was charged with Arson, removed from his home on 24th December and deported from Germany. He remembers feeling frightened, scared and alone. Events had overtaken him and instead of getting ready for Christmas with his family, he was on an airplane heading to the UK.
He arrived in England a very upset, distressed young man who was having difficulty coming to terms with how his life had changed in such a short period of time. He remembers being met by two assessment centre workers who did their best to make him feel at ease – they told Tim that as long as he ‘kept his nose clean’, he would be reunited with his family in six months.
Tim was on his best behaviour and after six months had past, he was moved from the assessment centre to a children’s home. One asking why he was not returning to his family, Tim’s social worker showed him a letter from his father stating that he was refusing to have Tim returned to his care as he felt Tim’s behaviour was beyond his control.
This was a catalyst for Tim – he felt that being ‘good’ had achieved nothing and so he began to rebel. He was constantly fighting and on one occasion, attacked a member of staff at the children’s home. For this he was placed in a secure unit and on his discharge, was placed in a number of foster homes which soon broke down, refusing to abide by rules and constantly pushing the boundaries, constantly absconding and at his own admission, was a nightmare!
Although Tim eventually settled in a foster home, outside of the placement his anti-social behaviour continued. At the age of 16, Tim was given a 12-month conditional discharge for a number of car related offences. At 17, he was sentenced to 18 months in Youth Custody though only served 6 months as he was released on good behaviour.
By the age of 20, Tim was a regular cannabis user and had turned to burglary to fund his habit. Over the next few years, Tim spent a significant amount of time in prison and it was only on the completion of a re-offending programme that Tim decided to try and turn his life around.
Fast forward a few years and Tim met and married his current wife and the couple made an application to foster. Tim had not offended for over 12 years. Tim was demonstrated how he had moved on from his previous lifestyle and could analyse why he had gone down the path he had.
Since being approved as a foster carer, Tim and his wife have offered placements to many young people. Quite often they have accepted young people other have rejected with Tim seeing a similarity between himself and the young person referred. Tim accepts that if it wasn’t for the support of his last foster carer, Mrs. B, this story could have had quite a different ending.
Tim recalls that Mrs. B from the start made him feel as if he was valued. He felt as if his opinion was worth something for once and that he was accepted for what he was, ‘warts and all’! It was Mrs. B who showed Tim that a home life could be stable, that arguments were not always the way to go and gave him the belief in himself that helped him to succeed in later life.
Today Tim has a good job, a happy marriage and a lovely home. Over the past couple of years he has been reunited with his family, and his father has apologised to Tim for the way in which he acted towards him when he was a child.
Tim told me that one of his best moments to date was when his father visited him in the UK recently and told him he was so proud of what Tim had achieved and how wrong he had been.