In my experience of being a care experienced care leaver, who has both gone through the system, as a former child in care and now as a care leaver who is transitioning into independent living from higher education, I have got to admit that the reality of stay connected with friends and family once entering the system is very unheard off especially if you had been placed into a placement that is miles away from where you lived before entering care.
For me, I was lucky enough to stay within a twenty minute drive away from where I used to live, so staying in contact with my friends were quite easy especially as we both went to the same college so we got to see a lot of each other every single day, but for many children in care and former care leavers, this is not the case as they can be spread across the county or even placed into a placement on the other side of UK, even though social workers try to keep us within the same area.
I can remember having this one friend from my foster placement who entered the foster home from halfway up the country. For him, this was very scary as not only was he miles away from his home and placed into a home with no one that he knew, he was also away from all his friends and family and placed with complete strangers. For many this happens all the time and, in my opinion, I can say that I really wish that people could be as lucky as me and stay within a few miles of their homes as being taken away from friends and support networks can be both damaging and frighting for people and can cause significant issues with self-esteem and mental wellbeing.
I can remember, when being placed into my foster placement, even though I was still lucky enough to see friends and some of my family network, I still felt really lost which for many care experienced people, this is normal as we are placed in an unfamiliar environment not knowing who anyone is, but for me it was more than that, when being placed into my placement, all I felt was over active dread and anxiety as I always felt lost but most importantly I never felt who I was…. It was like a part of me was taken away.
When looking back at this now that I am older, I can see that when feeling like this, it was not the fact of being in the foster placement, it was more the fact that my normal routine of seeing people I knew all the time and recovering from what happened to me, was the reason I felt lost as my mind was processing the reality in front of me. From experience and seeing friends who are in the system, or were in the system, they have all said that they have felt the same, as when someone gets placed into the system, it is a major shock to their brain because they do not know what is happening especially at an early age.
I can remember when being placed into foster care, I just got discharged from hospital from a severe mental health episode, which resorted in something bad happening with me.
When this happened, I was already in a massively depressed and upset state of mind, so I was closing down from everyone as I felt that no one wanted to see me or be around me. Due to this I fell out with my family which caused a traumatic abusive argument between myself and my mother. I know that a lot of people get placed into foster care for many of reasons, but from a lot of people’s stories that I read or hear about, people either get placed into the system from a traumatic event or domestic abuse.
In my own opinion, I feel that this has a major effect and impact on care experienced people like us as when it comes down to being placed into the system, a lot of the time people get placed into foster care from a bad and traumatic event. when this happens, it can cause a child to hide away and close down from people as it is a lot for them to understand, but most importantly it does have an impact on their mental health.
By Anonymous Care Experienced Blogger