What is broken can be fixed

By Scott, a care-experienced member of A National Voice and founder of The Puppet Project, which supports care leavers to express their thoughts and feelings through video and music.

Throughout our time in care we feel powerless, emotionally overwhelmed and somewhat confused. Physically we grow yet social and emotionally our development is delayed mainly due to instability, inconsistency and a lack of unconditional love. When we leave care at 16 many of us are angry and we offload this anger by acting upon the emotions that overwhelm us. We are expected to live independently and fend for ourselves way before any family reared child is expected to yet people forget that we are emotionally scarred. We make mistakes and we are shunned for doing so, we have unanswered questions and we often blame ourselves for our dysfunctional families and our constant rejections. The big wide world is a tough place to be. Society is judgemental, narrow minded and relentless and it has its rules. If you don’t abide by societal rules you are cast out whether you are from care or not.

Society does however take pity on some disadvantaged groups and provides support. If you have a recognised disability / illness government and society will help but there is one minority that remains invisible. This is a group that suffers in silence, a group that has nobody to call upon, one that is judged solely on actions and rejected because of their differences. This group is us, and who are we? We are care leavers.

Now we can moan about the state of the care system and how poorly corporate parents raise their children. We can ask questions such as “why is it OK for the state to emotionally abuse and neglect us yet for everyone else it breaches the children’s act and is considered immoral and illegal?” We could go on for years and indeed we have been. There are organisations out there that fight against the injustices of the care system and there are an increasing number of care leavers who are standing up and fighting back but still we see little change. Abused children continue to be removed from dysfunctional families, placed in care and provided with a life of instability, rejection, injustice and the constant reassurance that people will let them down regardless of how well they “behave”. Then to be spat out the other end undeveloped, unprepared, misinformed and emotionally scarred with a mountain of mental health issues which nobody appears to take any responsibility for. We are neglected by the state just like our parents did at the beginning.

This is what the deal is at this point so what are we going to do? What can care leavers do? Well most care leavers have had a tough journey and have been at the hands of injustice and horrific abuse yet some prevail and succeed where others do not. The bottom line is nobody is a failure because if you get knocked down and get back up it isn’t a failure, it’s a learning curve. The difference between those who do well and those who do not is that some have self-belief and some do not. It does not matter how tough your journey has been or how hard day to day life is. You can always be somebody, you can always fix what is broken and you can always find somewhere to belong and someone to belong to. You just need to believe in yourself, realise it’s ok to not be ok, it’s ok to make mistakes and keep firm belief that even though right now it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, you may feel like your fight is going nowhere but believe me it is not. This is a message to all care leavers. Never give up, keep your chin up, believe in yourself, love yourself, forget your mistakes and build your dreams into reality. It can be done because I have done it and so have many others. And for society my message is, it is easier to build stronger children than it is to fix broken adults. Support and nurture your children but if you fail them accept responsibility for your actions. Don’t leave us, don’t blame us, don’t compare, just help us. We deserve better, we deserve a future.

Our question for you is:
What can foster carers, social workers, teachers and friends do to help nurture a young person’s self-belief and improve their chances of building a better future?


The Rees Centre welcomes your comments on this blog post. We reserve the right to moderate any comments. Please note that any replies to your comments will come from the Rees Centre rather than the author of the post.

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