I was put into care at the age of two with my sister, as our Mum could not take care of us. I was placed for a short while with a number of foster parents in Hertfordshire. I then went to a family in Kings Walden and stayed there for about eleven years. I classed them as my family and still do today as they brought me up and put up with a lot.
As a young child my life was quite hectic. I think this made me really confused. Anger was my main problem. I used to have bad tempers and was a very angry kid. I used to be quite violent. Eventually the foster family decided to do something, so after talks with the social workers, it was decided that Iíd go into a children's home in a town called Letchworth. I stayed in that home for around two years on and off but was still a violent child. Many adults had let me down in the past so it became obvious that I didnít trust adults. The slightest disagreement would cause a violent temper. While I was there I went on a number of day visits to my mumís (whom I hadnít seen for 10 years) and she came to the offices. Social Services wanted to get me back home and did lots of planning to get it right. Unfortunately this didnít work out so I never went to live with her. I havenít seen her now for three years.
At first, we both got on fine but I soon realised that she wanted me to adjust to her way of life too quickly; that was why things broke up and led to big arguments. Now, looking back on it, I can see my mistakes, which were not speaking up for myself and saying what I would like to happen. Also I can see it was an edgy thing to do anyway. So I advise any young person who might be doing what I had done to think about it from all sides. Take your time, not letting adults rush you; ask what others think and give things a chance to work.
At thirteen I left the children's home and because of my violence, went to a more secure place in Stevenage. I had help from my social worker while I was there and by about fifteen, I had more control of myself and was able to talk about my problems.
I went to another family and enjoyed it with them, also the year that I spent with a widow foster lady. At 16, I joined the Army.
On my last leave, I returned to my Dad's house near Hitchin and met him for the first time. When I had wanted to see my Dad I think the social workers were a bit wary. But I knew what I was doing. He seemed more scared than me as he always seemed to be working on my visit dates. We got on really well and I felt quite released; we talked about present happenings, not the past, which helped. I got to know the rest of my family: three sisters, one brother and two other sisters living elsewhere.
Life is going good
Iím now in the Army with the rank of Corporal and my life is going good. Iím much more aware of myself now. Before everything was a real muddle. I find that I still lose my temper or get angry rather quickly, but I can control it and have reasonable arguments now, hopefully sorting the problem out.
My ex-social worker helped me to do this by doing intensive work with me; like asking me to draw pictures of different expressions, talk about anger, to speak my mind, control my anger and generally become a more civilised person. As he once said, if Iíd have carried on as I was, then I was sure to have ended up serving time. I have been to court twice but that was when I was in a Home and once when I had too much drink.
Iím pleased with myself now and appreciate the help of my social worker and reading ďWho Cares?" magazine. My time in care has been rough at certain points, but Iíve managed to wade my way through the dark and come out in bright light. I think Social Services could do with a bit more training in helping kids with meeting new families or returning home and with all the feelings involved. There are some teenagers who are still confused at 15 or 16 and do need a lot of help. I am one of the fortunate ones: many others have had it worse than me.