Being an adolescent is a tough time for any young person, but for foster children it can be particularly troubling, with even more challenges than what the standard teenager will experience. While most teenagers will encounter some sort of individual problems, being in care can mean that unlike most, you have no one to turn to and confide in about these issues.
As a young person, going into care can be a traumatic time and from my own experiences, you can often be in a dark place. Like many young people, I was struggling to find my identity. This led to mental health issues, feeling down and even self-harming – I felt like I had no one to turn to who I could share my feelings with. When I arrived in the care of Marian and Carl in 2012, I was definitely at one of my lowest points.
Although I continued to self-harm when I first arrived at Marian and Carl’s due to my struggles with finding my identity, they dealt with me and my circumstances amazingly. They provided comfort, support and advice when I needed it and were the only foster carers who made me feel like I was part of their family and that I belonged. They’ve always been good listeners, which is such an important quality for any foster carer – while going through such significant challenges in my life, they really made me feel like I had someone I could turn to.
As well as Marian and Carl, TACT themselves were also a really positive influence throughout my time in care. Myself and others within TACT were always encouraged to take part in activities which gave me and other children the opportunity to do things we may never have had the chance to do otherwise, while it also allowed me to meet a new network of friends. I found this to be hugely beneficial – it’s so helpful being around people who have experienced similar situations to yourself and know what you are going through.
I could be here all day writing a list of the positive ways that Marian and Carl impacted my life. Ever since meeting them, they encouraged me to succeed, and without them I wouldn’t have had the opportunities to go on holiday, sit and pass my GCSE’s, go to college, or even to feel like part of a family. They picked me up while I was in the darkest of places, and for that I will always be grateful. I’m now in a position where I have my own home and job, none of which would have been possible without my foster carers.
Even though I don’t live with them anymore, I still look to Marian and Carl as my parental figures. I’ve grown to realise how amazing they both are and it’s so nice to always know they’re still at the end of the phone. They don’t act like fostering is a job, and don’t treat anyone differently in terms of making young people feel a part of their family.
Being a foster carer is such an amazing thing to do. I don’t think it’s an easy job at all – I’m certainly aware of the challenges I posed for my foster carers when I was younger – but they’ve had such a positive influence on my life and changed me for the better.
Marian and Carl have always put myself and the other foster children they cared for before themselves. What they do is incredibly selfless and never have I seen them treat fostering like a job – they do what they do because they’re passionate about helping change the lives of people like me.
They were, and still are, my rocks.