“My parents split up when I was a toddler and my dad left home. My mum’s violence and tempers dominated my childhood and her drug and alcohol addictions meant she wasn’t able to look after herself, let alone care for me. Instead I was trying to look after her from a very young age. We never had any food in the house, we had no carpets or curtains and she spent any money she received on her addictions.
“She regularly took me into school late and often didn’t come to pick me up. Anyone who tried to step in to help bore the brunt of her temper and I remember her shouting at one of the other parents who made a comment about her being late to collect me.
“She would get aggravated if she didn’t get her own way with me and she kicked me a few times and pinned me to the floor. But then she’d beg me to stay if I tried to leave.
"I felt guilty that mum had been arrested because of me."
“My dad tried to do what he could and told me to tell the police what was happening at home. I didn’t know at the time that what my mum was doing was wrong so I was shocked when she was arrested and I was taken into care. I was only 10 and it was all very daunting. I felt guilty that mum had been arrested because of me.
“I lived in foster care for around 9 months before I went to live with my dad. It was quite a big change from living in care and I wasn’t given any help in settling in at his house. He worked quite a lot so I had to do all of the housework and when he was there he was often angry. On one occasion, I was taken away and put in a placement for a week after he’d got aggressive but then I returned back to him when things cooled down.
“But things didn’t get any better. I wasn’t bought new clothes or toys and I wasn’t allowed to do simple things like watch the TV. I think he didn’t want me to go off the rails like my mum did so he was very controlling and in the end I ran away when I was 13 as I couldn’t take it anymore.
"I think there needs to be more support given to young people returning home after they've been in care."
“I went back to the town where I grew up and bumped into my mum and went to stay with her. My dad fought to get me back but mum had parental responsibility. Social services came to check that I wanted to be there but, again, I wasn’t given any help in settling in and nothing had changed at home.
“Mum continued to have violent tempers and social services arranged respite to give us both a break but I could have done with having someone that I trusted to talk to about the situation. In the end I moved back to foster care for a couple of years and stayed there until I was 17.
“I think there needs to be more support given to young people returning home after they’ve been in care. If there was more support and someone I could have talked to to help me make sense of it all then I might have been able to make things at home work and had a normal life.
“It’s not until I was 17 and I’d left care that I spoke to other people who had family lives and realised how much I missed out on. I was quite depressed and had to deal with different emotions that came to the surface. I had counselling and I’m doing well with my life now but I think that if I’d received more support when I was returning home it would have helped in the long run.”