Become a Foster Carer

Young Person’s Voice – Independence

Heya I’m Anna, I’m 18 (almost 19) and I have a big family split into 3; my blood family, my foster family and my work family.

I enjoy reading books and have many different types but I mostly enjoy mysteries and horror. I also like to make videos on YouTube about the books I read and suggest them to others to read as well. I enjoy writing but mostly poetry, writing poetry is a way of helping with my emotions and my past so they’re not always very nice most of the time, as they reflect on abuse and other dark subjects. I’m not new to writing to an audience, as I have been writing on Wattpad and other blog sites since I was 12, mainly writing stories from books that I never got round to finishing.

Today I’m talking about moving on from your foster home and how it may make you feel, react and what the outcome may be. I moved from my foster home just about a month ago, deciding to move about six months after I turned 18. It wasn’t an easy decision because it was the place I called home. It was difficult being in this situation and when it came to deciding to move I was full of worries; worried I wouldn’t know anyone in the area, getting a new job, if I'd see my foster family again and also leaving my little sister behind with them.

When it came down to not having anyone in the area you move to, well that is sort of true and if you’re like me, who suffers with social anxiety, it’s hard meeting new people and making new friends. However, getting a new job means you’re always meeting new people. When I got my new job, I must admit it was hard to start off with because I worked with total strangers that I had to share a work environment with, but it didn't stay like that for long. If you push yourself into making conversation with them, you’ll soon learn who you will mostly get along with, and as the time goes by you just end up being work friends. So you see, you’re never truly alone.

When it comes down to getting a job, you need to work at it. Ask you personal adviser for help on your CV or even your Foster Carers. Someone close to you can help and find the best websites for you. Whatever site you’re on, just type in your location and how far you’re willing to travel – think about how long the bus journey could be or riding your bike there and then just look at all the jobs available. It’s important to read up on the companies, what they do and what sort of person they’re looking for. And remember - you may not have any work experience but not everyone out there does, everyone has to start somewhere. Don’t limit yourself, if the job doesn’t need experience that’s great, just go for it! I applied for about 15 jobs every day and only got 3 interviews in that week, you’re not always going to make the cut but it doesn’t matter, as long as you can say that you’re trying and keep your spirits up!

Moving from somewhere where you were settled is always hard and emotional. In my case, I found supported lodgings that I liked, and the women who owned the house was sweet and I counted myself lucky. I had a just over a month before I moved in and the information of it all never really sunk in until the week before. I didn’t really have the feeling that I was moving and that I wouldn't be living with my foster parents anymore. So when it came down to the last week, I must admit I was a nervous wreck and on more then one occasion I sat down with my foster mother and spoke about if I was making the right decision or not. I would sit there crying because it’s a big deal and its scary, especially from just having that little time of childhood in foster care then moving on and becoming independent. But she sat me down and told me write a positive and negative board. One for moving and one for staying, so after calming down, I went and did just that, it helped a lot and even though there were more positives for staying, it didn't really matter to me, because going through all the positive things about moving made me really excited and it really helped.

Moving can make you feel alone and you’ll feel like this a while until you’re settled, you may feel home sick and it may affect your sleep. When I moved, everything felt ok for the first few days, but then my sleep started to disturb. Sleeping meant another day as an adult, so I wasn’t sleeping until four in the morning and I started crying at night because there was no-one that I could talk to. It set off my depression. If you didn’t know, sleep does affect your mood and makes you more prone to having more bad days if you’re sleep deprived. What I’m trying to say is that there’s always pros and cons about moving into supported lodgings. It’s not always bright and beautiful and it’s not always a happy ever after but it’s the way you deal with it that counts.

I don’t know the situation that you’re moving from, I don’t know if you were happy where you were but you can make the best of it. When moving, I suggest that you have at least £100 or £200 because you’re not going to have money straight away, even if you get a new job you’re going to have to wait at least a month before you get paid. You’ll be lucky if you get paid weekly and as I’ve just seen, housing benefits don’t go in straight away, it takes time, it takes paperwork and you need food to live on until you get paid. When moving you need to make sure you have a support system otherwise you won’t have anyone to talk to when the time’s get rough, and trust me there will be days that get rough. There will be days you wished you never moved and there will be days that you’re glad that you moved.

If you’re like me and all you’re looking for is a place you can call your own or a place you can call home - somewhere you can just be yourself, decorate the way you like, then I suggest moving would be the next step. It’ll be hard, but it will push you in the right direction and in long run you’ll be happy you moved. When it comes down to budgeting, the best thing you can do (when you know your hours) is calculate how much money you’ll be making and then write down all the things down that you need to pay out for and their cost, like food, phone bills, etc. You’ll then be able to and work out how much you need and how much you have spare, that’s the best way to budget.

Making a food shopping list will be the easiest thing you can do, but you’ll need to make sure you know how much things cost. Make sure you write things down that you can make meals with; you need to make sure you can make meals that are of a balance of your diet and include vegetables and meats (you can’t live off pot noodles or ready-made meals as you could end up ill because of the lack of nutrients needed for your body). I’m just going to say that it’s never easy moving away from support systems that you’ve had in place for so long, but it doesn’t always mean it’s a bad thing. Everyone has to move on sometime in their life and yes I know it feels rubbish because you feel ‘why me?’ ‘why does it have to be so difficult?’ Other people my age who have strong families have a support system something like a parachute, if they fall they’ve always got that their family in place.

As for young people in the foster system, we don’t really have a parachute. Yes you may have your support worker and if you’re lucky you have your old foster family, but unless you’ve been in the care system, you won’t be familiar with how it feels to not have a real parachute. Just remember, there’s always groups out there on the on the web that are full of people who are just like you, people who’ve been through the the same situation and people who’ve been in the system who will know how you’re feeling.  

Anna x