From care to career – a young person’s perspective

Before I went into care, I constantly had arguments with my parents; to the point that I became homeless for nine months. A lot has happened after that, but eventually I was really lucky to find myself living with a loving foster family who have taken on the roles of a great parent for me. 

It wasn’t an easy ride, and the first bad experience of care was just all the stress caused by trying to actually get a foster caring licence and the funding from the council. I remember my foster parents fighting for ages to put everything into place, so that they were in a position to look after me properly. But apart from this, it was great for me, because I was now living in a supportive environment and I could finally get on with my education, which had been getting badly disrupted. Looking back, I think being in care with my foster family definitely made me more stable and helped me become more focused and organised. 

Life after care – onwards and upwards 

I left care when I was eighteen and moved into semi-independent accommodation. It was awful. You don’t get to choose who you are going to live with and I didn’t get on with the people I was sharing the space with. I ended up getting really stressed out about things like domestic cleanliness and it definitely affected my mental health. Things went downhill for me at this time and the future looked dull. I managed to get a job but it was difficult as I had to fit work around my college hours. But I needed a job to pay for shopping and service charges.

I was introduced to Felix, my Employment Consultant at Drive Forward Foundation, by my personal adviser at the Young Adults Service.  Felix told me about the Civil Service Care Leavers Internship. He helped me apply, and when I was offered an interview, he supported me with interview practice and sent me for a professional work clothes fitting at Smartworks. All this support really helped as I was incredibly nervous and excited. The next thing I knew was that I’d been offered an administrative role with the Department of Transport. My future had stopped looking dull for sure! 

Living and working amid a pandemic 

During the coronavirus pandemic I’ve been working from home. I’ve been really busy as public transport services have been badly affected by the pandemic. The workload has been challenging, but thanks to a really supportive manager I’ve coped well with learning new systems and procedures.  My advice to anyone who suddenly finds themselves in a demanding and unfamiliar work role is to keep in close contact with your manager. It’s really helping me manage my workload and keep up with the pace of a busy government department. 

Thanks to Drive Forward Foundation my life has changed dramatically. I feel as though I’ve accomplished something very special. It’s so great to be financially stable. For my long-term future the possibility of a full-time civil service role would be amazingHowever, my new skills and confidence have also inspired me to think about my original dream of applying to university to study for a social work degree. I wonder if someone like me with a social work degree would be useful in the Department For Health And Social Care? What an idea…I must ask my manager what she thinks!

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