My name is Elle. I am a 19 year old, currently in a ‘staying put’ arrangement and living the lockdown life. If I had to introduce myself I would tell you about my interest in ﬁtness and sports (I am utterly mediocre at both) and I would tell you about my love of singing and dancing despite having stage fright. I’d say that I’m intelligent (only because my foster parents would tell you so) and I would especially tell you that I am funny. Because I am.
I was 10 when I was placed under a special guardianship order and at the age of 17 I ran away. I clearly didn’t have the best time there. I then started to live with a great fostering family, who I am still with now.
My time in care has been up and down – a lot of great times, some not so good. A bit like a rollercoaster without the sickness and the fear. Although, I guess there was a little of that too. The worst bit about being in care is how much I miss my siblings, my brother and my three sisters.
Living with superheroes
My foster carers, however, are extraordinary. They took me in when I needed it most and they, along with my school, looked out for me like nobody had before. They make me laugh and smile, and sometimes even cry (in a good way). I am really not that soppy of a person, but you get the picture: superman and wonder woman came into my life, scooping me up and giving me a family. For the first time in, well… forever. I have never met anybody like them before.
Coping with lockdown
The recent lockdown situation has been challenging. Feeling trapped is a huge trigger for me and makes me feel helpless. It also makes me anxious, incredibly insecure and it can be tough to sit with my own thoughts sometimes. As a way of preoccupying myself I decided to launch a YouTube channel. I spent years growing up watching YouTube videos but I had never seen anyone quite like me, talking about the things I was struggling with.
While I have a loving, supportive family now, I didn’t always. Through the channel I am hoping to build a community where people can talk about their time in care and not feel ashamed; a community where children and foster carers alike, feel supported and dare I say, normal?
Changing the system
Career-wise I have other plans though. If the corona situation allows I am going to university in September to study criminology with social policy. In the future I am planning to influence government policy in regards to social care and the justice system. I fully intend to do something brilliant.
If I could change anything about the care system right here right now, I would tackle the lack of stability for children – the constant social worker changes, moving from place to place and the school changes. It already feels like nobody wants you, let’s not add to it.
To all the foster carers out there: be patient. They will trust you eventually if you’re doing everything you should be. If you are giving them enough kindness, love and compassion then you should be all set. Do not stop loving them even when they test you (which they will) and you’ll past the test in the end. One last thing for care experienced young people: don’t ever believe you’re not good enough, because you are. If you want it, go and get it.