Advent: Taking the leap
I am often asked the all-too clichéd question of 'What was it like in care?'
Of course this is a massive question so I’ll focus on some elements of my experience.
You might expect me to go into a long, drawn-out complaint of how young people who are ‘looked after’ are not given enough of a platform to offer their unique experiences as guidance to others. Well I can honestly say I have never felt this to be the case with myself. You see, the years I spent in foster care developed my resilience and gave me a voice to express my own desires in what I want to happen in my life. I became the first young person in Salford to chair my own LAC (looked-after-children) review. I had only requested to do this as a joke, but soon stopped laughing when, at age 14, I had to co-ordinate 10 professionals sat around a huge table!
I was backed into many corners by bullies and workers alike inside the foster home and beyond. I never saw myself as 'voiceless' (even though I had a terrible stutter) but knew that my pleas to leave the placement were falling on deaf ears. However, in the summer of 2009, I left and never looked back.
'It is best to go with your passion, to go with your heart'
Now lots of things have occurred from that then to now, but one of the major influences on me was the work of The Children’s Society. My involvement began when I took a very brief course with them back in 2009. From there, I reluctantly signed up to the Children in Care Council (Fight for Change) that they were setting up.
I wasn't exactly 'voiceless', but I was a bag of nerves. I loved the thought of writing a speech, but hated the fact of reading it! I was horrified at the thought of appearing in front of three hundred people (who were from all aspects of the council) and two celebrities. But I was told to squeeze a ball of blue-tac in the palm of my hand as I was reading it, and remember the reasons why I was there in the first place: to enable the audience to hear the capabilities and confidence of young people.
After that very nerve-wracking night I could hear a very strong voice inside of me, and learnt very quickly how to let it out! I was assigned to be the council's reporter and wrote up the council report. I threw a dynamite question to a load of professionals that – to their disgust and my delight – made them question their safeguarding policies.
The Children’s Society made a huge difference in my life. They set me on a path of discovery. I learnt it is best to go with your passion, to go with your heart, and not to be scared to take that dramatic leap. You will feel so liberated and free during the fall, no matter the outcome, and it will always better your character and give you a new life.
Reflecting on Aaron’s story
The money we raise from our fundraising efforts go to support children and young people like Aaron. Thank you for all you do and give.
We continue to work to ensure that children and young people have a voice, that they are listened to, that they are heard. For example, our programme in Lancashire works to support all children and young people who are looked after have a say about what happens in their lives. You can find out more about our work in Lancashire here
Please take a moment to reflect and give thanks.
Thank you, Lord, for all those people who reach out to youngsters on our behalf, for those who do your work, who recognise the skills and talents in young people and strive to ensure they achieve their potential.
Thank you for all those who give their time to be carers, advocates, listeners, teachers, youth workers, chaplains, family or social workers striving for the best for those in their care. Give them ears to hear the voice of and eyes to see the lives of those in their care through young eyes.
Advent calendar blog
This story is part of our Advent calendar blog.
What you can do next
Follow the journey of The Children's Commission on Poverty, a group of 15 young people investigating what living in poverty means for more than three million impoverished children and teenagers across the country.