In this blog, I am going to be talking about what it was like to prepare to leave care and become independent. Everything in this blog is my own personal views and most importantly more own personal story.
During the final year of being in care, my social worker decided to talk to me about what the plan was for me to be transferred over to having a personal advisor (PA) and moving from foster care to independent living. Personally, I was frightened to be living on my own as I had no idea what I was going to be doing, and more importantly what I needed to do, as I was still at college finishing the final year of my extended diploma, and more importantly I only just turned 18.
I was very frightened, as I felt that I was being pushed into the deep end and having no idea what I was doing, but more importantly, how I was going to finish college and whether I was going to be around my friends and family. Luckily, I was able to stay in the same town as I was in along with my friends and family, so I was lucky to finish my final year of college.
Data from Ofsted says that ‘Many care leavers told us that they were not taught essential skills, such as how to shop, cook or manage money. (Ofsted (Gov.uk), 2022). Personally, from my time in care, I knew that I was needing to be taught a lot of life skills to help me transfer into independent living more easily, but also learn what to do if I ever got stuck, which was never done in my placement… The only thing that I was lucky enough to learn about was how to do laundry, and how to shop and cook, but never how to budget and pay bills etc.
This made everything much worse for me, because when I was living independently, before heading off to university, I had no idea what to do, as I was getting all this money to help me buy food and pay bills and everything, but I never knew how to budget, or what bills are what and what classes as being essential and everything. At this point, I needed massive help from my personal advisor and advice and guidance about what needed to be done and when.
Having this advice and guidance really helped me a lot, because, after a while, I was able to learn what the import bills to pay and what I can spend on food shopping, but also how to budget throughout the month until I next get paid. Doing this and being at college and finishing my last year, was really hard because I had to make sure that I was on time for lessons and doing assignments while making sure I was paying for everything on time.
So, the best advice I can give any care leaver who is going into independent living while at college is… Always make sure to seek help and support if you are struggling. It is best to get the support now, so you know what to do for when you get your own place then leave it to the last minute and struggle, even more, because at the end of the day, there are a lot of people out there who want to help us, but if you need immediate support always feel free to ask your social worker or personal advisor for support.
By Anonymous Care Experienced Blogger