Pride and prejudice

Since leaving the Maumbury House children’s home last year I have
found the leaving care team in Dorchester extremely supportive,
understanding and empathetic. Their forward-thinking attitude and
readiness to respond to all eventualities has been impressive. The
post-care workers have about 31 young people who require their
input and, despite our needs and the demands of the job, they
ensure that every young person receives a wealth of attention and

They appear to have a firm commitment to listening to the
grievances, concerns and differing views of all individuals within
the care system. The post-care workers’ approach has given me the
courage to explore and display my own individuality. They foster a
holistic approach towards every young person’s development, they
employ a multi-disciplinary stance in recognition of our needs and
are pro-active in improving the quality of the leaving care

A number of care leavers have recently joined forces to form a
leaving care group where they meet on a weekly basis. I have much
admiration for each member as they attend conferences and devise
workshops to increase support workers’ understanding.

Over the past four years, I have lived with a cross-section of
people with ever-changing problems and needs. I have seen them
enter the children’s home and then exit the care system into
independent living. For some the transition seemed a natural
progression and they adjusted successfully. Others, however, have
struggled with this inevitable move, unable to accept the harsh
realities of life or stay in a job.

Care leavers’ own backgrounds and the unresolved problems they have
experienced in childhood, such as abuse, attachment difficulties
and trauma, are all major factors in deciding what happens to them
when they leave care. But there is also prejudice. I have lost
count of the number of times that I have seen “No DSS” printed in
the accommodation section of the local newspaper. Dorset social
services should ask themselves how they can help minimise the
blemish on care leavers’ names, so that people in the wider
community develop an awareness and acceptance of difference.

Because there is too little choice of where to live, young care
leavers are often accommodated in halfway houses where, in my
experience, drug abuse, loud music and vandalism are commonplace.
This form of semi-independent living for some is the last resort.
The rent is exorbitant, well over £100 a week, and this leads
to young people becoming marginalised because the easy option is to
enter the benefits trap.

I think that leaving care workers should specialise in addressing
certain areas of need, such as health, education, and emotional and
behavioural development. And as care leavers we should reap
strength, determination and courage from the problems that we have
overcome. We must stand united.

Heidi Osborne left Maumbury House children’s home in
Dorchester, Dorset last year, having lived there since 1998. This
is the second of two articles by her.

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