ISSUE 34 NOVEMBER 2001 BACK

young people in care

My story

From Who Cares? ďthe UK magazine for young people in care, we listen to Angelaís story

My name is Angela. I am 19 years old and I was born with spina bifida and a condition called hydrocephalus which means that I had water on my brain. I am registered blind and am paralysed in places down my right side.

When I was younger I could walk and crawl a little but have always needed a wheelchair. I like being able to get about with people pushing my chair but itís frustrating that I can't get around on my own.

I have been living in a residential college for the past two years. Before that I lived at home with my Dad and went to a day school. I chose to come to residential college so that I could learn to be more independent and make more friends for myself.

Leaving home
Moving to college meant moving a long way from home. I donít get to see my Dad very often ďonly at half terms and holidays. Dad phones every Sunday and I fill him in on all my gossip. Iíve now got used to not seeing Dad every day and I miss him sometimes but not like I used to. After Iíve been at home for a holiday I think about him a bit more but once I get back into my college routine, itís not too bad.

My first few weeks at college were really nerve wracking ďI wasnít really sure if I would like it and I really missed my Dad and my old school friends. I had a lot of new people helping to look after me and I had to teach them all how to do it properly, and fill them in on the things I liked and didnít like.

When my new hoist arrived it made getting in and out of my chair, my bed, the shower and the swimming pool a lot easier. I have to rely on staff to help me with a lot of my personal needs and I also need medical care, so the college has a lot of people to fuss over me. Meeting so many people was difficult at first but I try to be cheerful and friendly all the time and it didnít really take me very long to feel comfortable with everyone.

Day to day
Once I got used to the staff and other students (and they got used to me) I started to enjoy it all. I have a lot of support from carers so that I can be part of every activity. I attend courses at the agricultural college and another local college. I have my own allowance so trips into the town centre are when I buy my own things. I like tapes and CDs but I also need to buy clothes and toiletries.

Sometimes I get a bit fed up with the other students and I need some space. Sometimes I get a bit tearful or donít feel really well. Sometimes I just donít know what I want but mostly I love being here. I have made some good friends in the carers and the other students. Iíve had the chance to do a lot of things I just wouldnít be able to do if I was at home with Dad. I have a nice social life going to the pub and different social clubs with the staff and my friends.

Moving into residential college has been a brilliant move for me. Scary to start with ďleaving home ďbut Iíve made so many friends and done so many things that itís all been worth it. I feel more confident in myself now, I know I can do a lot more things and I speak up for myself a lot more.

Leaving care
I love being here but my course ends soon and then I go back home to live with my Dad. I get really upset when I think about leaving ďI wish I could stay but the course is over. Much as I love my Dad and I donít mind going home, I will miss everything I do and the people I know at college.

When I go home I donít know exactly what sort of help IĖll be getting. I might be joining a course at a local college if I can get help and transport to get there. I might be going to a local day centre or I might have carers come to the house to help me. What Iíd quite like is to move to a group home, nearer to Dad so I can see him more often but where I would have my own friends and a busy social life. Iíd have to get to know everyone again and I know IĖll be homesick and nervous but it would be like here ďonce I get used to it, IĖll like it.

THE INTERNATIONAL CHILD AND YOUTH CARE NETWORK (CYC-Net)
Registered Non-Profit and Public Benefit Organisation in the Republic of South Africa (031-323-NPO, PBO 930015296)

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