In Who Cares? the UK magazine for young people in care, Kevyn (15) talks of his years in the system.
I was just a baby when my real mum and dad separated. So, at the beginning, I didn't know my dad. I lived with my mum, my sisters and brother, and my uncle. From what I know, I wasn't getting properly looked after at home. My teachers began to be worried and this is the start of my life in care.
Although I went to live with my real dad, I didn't stay there for long. I was only 6 when they put me into the care of the local authority. I was first sent to some foster parents and stayed there for a couple of weeks. I then moved to more foster parents and lived with them for a year and a half. At that time, I was very confused with everything that was happening. I moved to a special children's home. It was not a bad place because they had things like art therapy and psychotherapy which helped me in different ways. It was then time for me to leave because you could only stay there for 2 years. The manager of the home said that if no one would adopt me, then she would. We already knew each other and so I moved to her house. It was fine until the point when we fell out and kept on arguing. I thought it wasn't the right place for me, so I ran off and rang Childline. The next day, I left. I was only 10 years old.
I hadn't really seen my mum since I was put into care. I still didn't get on any better with her. She disappointed me a lot by saying that she loved me and would come to see me, but hardly ever turning up. One day, when I had a review meeting, she did come. Because I was so fed up, I said that I hated her. She started to cry, but at the time I wasn't bothered. It didn't affect me until a lot later.
Moving to different places
At the age of 13, I moved to another children's home. I stayed there for about a year, but the home was being shut down. At this point in my life, I was feeling fed up and wanted to hurt myself. I didn't feel loved by my mum and dad, and I blamed myself for being in care. I felt like Kevin from the film Home Alone, because I didn't see anyone from my family. Then I went to live in a unit for older children. I got bullied a lot by other lads. I was so scared of one lad who was a lot bigger than me. One day, when I felt that I had been bullied too many times, I stabbed him with a table knife in self-defence. I was put into a secure unit where I had to stay for 6 weeks. I got moved a few more times before coming to the unit I'm in now. At first, I did get bullied and it took me a while to settle in. But I've lived here for over a year and I'm doing very well. I get a lot of support from my keyworker and other members of staff, which has helped me to be ready to live independently.
Being without a mum or dad
I sometimes find it very difficult without a mum or dad because I don't feel loved. At Christmas, people go home to be with their families and there is only me here. I have always found it very hard to see other people going home, though I feel happy for them because it's not nice to go through the same as me. My sisters have tried to keep in touch, but are getting on with their lives as they leave care. There's also been a bit of contact with my dad, including one visit. But I'm really trying to forget about my family and not let it spoil my life. Instead, I want to be with the friends I've got now. They have helped me in many ways. In care, you can get a lot of help and things your family can't afford – like going out on special trips and outings. Some families can afford those things, as well as giving you time, love and happiness.
What it feels like in care
I am still only 15 years old and have spent nearly all my life in care. I have sometimes blamed myself for being in care, when it's not my fault. I have also wanted to kill myself, but have listened to the advice of my social worker. She has been mine for 10 years. When I was a little boy, she used to take me to nursery. It's good to take advice from the staff and your social worker. They are just trying to help, though it can be hard when they say they know how you must be feeling. Deep down, they don't know how you feel at all – that is, unless they have been through the same things as you. People can let the past spoil their lives. I've found it very difficult to stop that happening, but what's made me forget the past is thinking positively about the future. I'm getting on with my life.