What makes me proud about being part of the Black care-experienced is that I am able to say I made it. I made it from my time in care and now I stand as a successful young woman.
There are things I wish could have been better about my Black care-experience but I can’t forget all the great things that came with it too.
When I first went into care, I had a rocky road with the first-ever carers I was introduced to. They didn’t make me feel at home, they didn’t make me feel welcomed even though they were from the same ethnicity as me. It was like they just wanted me there for the extra money. This made me go into other placements with my back up. I didn’t trust people or think that anyone wanted the best for me.
However, when I got moved to my second foster placement, they made me feel at home, they cherished my Black hair, always offered to help me get my hair done, but also implemented ways for me to earn extra money or be rewarded for good behaviour and that felt like a breath of fresh air. I even remember when I had to move out of London due to certain circumstances, this ended up with me moving to Blackpool (not a very diverse area which 100% made me feel out of place) BUT honestly, you’ll probably be surprised to hear – I wouldn’t have changed that part of my life.
In the care home I got put into, I was very lucky to have a carer there who was also Black and came from a similar background as me. She would do anything and everything to help me stay on track, to help me enjoy my time in Blackpool, to help me feel as if I wasn’t alone and till this day I am still in contact with her because she is someone who made me change for the better. Even the little things like doing my hair for free, taking me to Manchester, helping me buy products for my hair, taking me out places when I was stressed or sad and making me smile on my dark days. There were about five carers who worked in my care home who would go to any lengths to make me smile, even the ones who weren’t from the same ethnicity as me would take time out to get to know my culture, ask me questions, try to make foods from the Caribbean as dinner, would drive me to restaurants that catered in Caribbean food, pushed for me to have more money for hair and skin products that cater to me, and I’ll honestly never forget them because, without them, I know my time in Blackpool wouldn’t have been beneficial and I wouldn’t be the great young women I am today.
Being part of the Black care-experience, looking back, I realise how hard things were for me and if I didn’t have the drive in myself, I don’t think I would have made use of all of the opportunities that got thrown at me or worked with the people who wanted to help me. I’m proud of the young woman I am today and I am proud of my Black skin – I wouldn’t change it for the world. Going through my experience, I will always push to help other looked after children experience many highs throughout their Black care-experience.
– Jade, Care Leaver