Our anonymous blogger talks about facing judgement as a care experienced young person, the importance of listening and why we must remember that every ‘wean in care’ is an individual case.
Once you are known as a “wean in care” it never goes away. You face constant judgment from everyone – social work, the police, the council, the public – and you just can’t get away from it. People think you are just a “Typical wean in care, getting into trouble, misbehaving just for misbehaving sake”. And yeah like other children sometimes weans in care do just kick off or misbehave to show off to our pals or just to do what everyone else is doing. But the difference with being in care is unlike other children, who should feel safe and comfortable with who they live with, in care you don’t have a choice who that is. You can’t get away from staff or the other weans you live with. When other weans’ behaviour brings stuff up for you that isn’t good, you can’t get away from it. You might try to go to your room to get away from it or calm down but sometimes that isn’t allowed – it feels like you are not in control of anything. You are away from your family and your friends and the only people you have got are the ones you are hanging about with and when they are misbehaving it’s easy to get into other people’s habits. All weans in care have gone through something, been taken away from their family, and often all they will want is to go home but they can’t. Often I felt unhappy, depressed and stressed out my box – I don’t know how I coped sometimes.
If you run away then when you come back the unit staff will tell you “we’ve been up all night doing paperwork”. All the staff want to grill you about where you have been and what happened and every staff member, on each shift, has something different to say. When you keep getting told over and over what you did was wrong you think “why did I even bother coming back?” Then as a consequence to stop you running away again you will get your stuff taken off you, windows locked, or kept in your room, which is one of the most stressful things ever – it’s like being put in a cell. So then I would get angry, I would throw things about, smash things up, and then the police would be called.
Then the police come. The police know your name, they know you are in care, and then they come in with that the attitude that you are “just another typical wean in care”. That will affect us all but everyone is different so all children in care shouldn’t be treated the same. The police often wind you up or give you abuse but they should be there to help you. It is horrible when the police are allowed to come into your bedroom and you are there on your own, with no staff just the police. One time the police were called because I wouldn’t leave the bedroom of the boy in the unit who was like my wee brother. In my pal’s house I could be in their bedroom like anyone normally would but not in the unit. The police officer went to pick me up and take me to my room but this was my house, where I lived. Then I reacted, was pinned down on my bed and told “if you don’t calm down we can’t let go” but obviously in that situation it’s hard to calm down. But I carry the charges for resisting arrest and police assault.
There are things that can help. Staff who really care, who take time to build trust, who make an effort with you, who want to hear about what you day was like and what you did in college, like what a mum or dad should do. Just being normal with you and giving you a bit of freedom and really listening to what you say.
Listening to young people matters. Young people meetings would drive me mental. We would all talk about what we wanted to change and just end up arguing with staff as they would say we couldn’t do that. I am not saying young people should be given everything they want but they should think about this and listen to us.
We need to think about where we place people. One time I was in a depressed state and shouting and screaming and it brought bad things back for this other girl who was struggling with her mental health. It must have been horrible for her. But I loved living with a boy with profound autism – he was like my wee brother and I would spend time with him and calm him down when he was upset. It broke my heart one day when staff asked him his sister’s name and he said my name.
Everyone needs to understand what it’s like to be in care but not every wean in care is the same.
About our blogger
This blog was written by a young person with experience of the care system. If you’d like to blog about your own lived experience and what helped you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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