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.
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.
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.