From Day One

From the life that I had been in, I was relieved to finally be out of there. But still
the thought of going into a care home frightened me. I would be moving to an
area I had never even heard of, to live with strangers and have a staff team there
to look after me. Nothing sounded worse.

I remember packing my bags from my dad’s house after a long conversation
with a woman from social services. I was reassured that I would be safe and that
I would like the place I was going. The drive seemed to last forever, slowly
leaving what seemed my whole life behind.

I arrived in the town and was given a quick tour and showed how close to the beach I would be. Then it came time to go to my new home. Home was such a strange word to me at the time, as I had never felt like I had one before. I walked into Tolkien House and was scared to even speak to anyone; they sat me down in the lounge whilst they talked to the manager. It was weird, I felt safe.

Everyone seemed really nice and caring, like they accepted me there after such a short time. After meeting all of the staff and doing all of the initial paperwork I was told I could choose my key worker, the member of staff that I got along with the nicest. I never once regretted my choice from this day onwards.

After about a week or two, rebellion wants to kick in. Making wrong choices
hoping that they would send you home, I quickly realised that this wasn’t the
case, I was here for good and no amount of misbehaviour was gonna change
that. I quickly gained contact with family members that I hadn’t spoken to in
a few years and it became apparent that it was time for my past to be told. I still
remember that day like it was yesterday, being unbelievably scared driving to
the police station. Luckily I had the care home staff with me; otherwise I would
have never been able to go through with it. Things very quickly became very
real. The police were involved, social services questioning everyone and for some
reason; the rest of my family on one side hating me for it.

Counselling soon started and I got into talking about my experiences, lots of
sleepless nights spent in tears. Eventually leading to depression and on top of
everything I had to start taking medication for it as well. The staff team
supported me the entire time that I was going through it, no matter how much of
a fuss that I made or how much I kicked off; they were still there.

Getting used to being in care is something no one can understand unless they
have been there, seeing different people all the time and attending meetings. It
was all a very strange situation, I found myself looking forward to the day my
key worker was on shift so I can open up to someone and know they wouldn’t
get mad or upset with me.

The relationships you build up with the staff are different to anything I had
experienced, they cared. They didn’t have to; I mean this was their job. But every
time I had a conversation with them, I knew they cared.

Time went by and things started to get better, I had gotten into college and
started to make new friends, I was comfortable in the care home and felt like I
belonged there. I still had difficult times but I knew I wasn’t alone anymore. It
felt like ages between visits from my social worker, at the time they seemed like
the enemy. Always enforcing new rules or telling me that I couldn’t do
anything, I realise now that they had to do what they did and I was wrong for
the way I treated them.

A long time passed in the care home, and it was amazing. I had done so many
things that I never thought I would do, been paintballing, rock climbing, been
on holiday. It was like having a really big family, even though most days were
tough, we got through it together.

I still remember a life changing moment for me, when I knew things had to
change. I had spent months self harming as a form of release, and it went too
far. I ended up in hospital and was told I was lucky to be going home. From that
day I knew I had to do things right. My key worker and care home manager sat
with me and talked to me in the hospital whilst we waited for the doctor. I felt so
guilty knowing it had actually upset them, at the time I didn’t realise just how
much they cared.

After that my life started going pretty well, I was visiting my family quite
often, made good friends and was actually started to work with my social
worker to get what I wanted to happen enforced. It all seemed too good to be true…
turns out it was.

When I had gone to the police about my past, I had no idea how big of a case it
would turn into and it was almost time to give evidence in court. Depression
kicked back in and I felt worse than ever, but I had to be strong. I had a life now;
I didn’t want it to be ruined because of something that could surely only do
good for everyone. As the court date came closer, people started treating me
differently; everyone seemed on edge… like they were waiting for something
bad to happen. My day in court had arrived, my key worker took me to the
police station to be escorted in. I was so scared, like all my childish fears and
anxieties came back all at once. It seemed to go on forever, when they were
finally done with questions I was only half way through, so we went for lunch
and had to go back in. I was a wreck afterwards. It took me so long to recover
from bringing everything up.

But after that, there was a giant weight lifted off my shoulders. I had family,
friends and a life. Shortly after that it was time to talk about me getting my
own place and moving out of the care home. Such a scary thought, I was offered
independence training to get me used to living on my own. I wish that I had
done more to be honest; I was unaware of how difficult things would be. But that
is a different story.

Being in a care home completely changed my life. I could never thank each
member of the staff team enough for what they had done for me. They didn’t
just look after me and be there for me, I had learnt how to look after myself. I
had self-confidence and I liked who I was. Even through everything that had
happened, I felt like the bigger person. Social services helped me when they could
but I do admit I was difficult for them, most of the time on purpose.
During my time in care I had been to court, suffered with depression, been in
hospital and in general gone through a lot. But that isn’t what I will remember.
I will remember the holidays, the trips to the lakes, sitting in the lounge
laughing for hours with the staff, the bonds I made and the people I will never
forget.

So that is the basics of my story, I could go into so much more but I feel like I
have said the important stuff.