Is this called support?

My name is David, I am 24. I was taken into care, under a care
order, when I was 13 and placed with foster carers. When I was 15 I
moved to Cradley Heath to be fostered by Jackie and Clive and
stayed with them when they moved to Kidderminster in 2000.

I was with the family until last September when I was moved into a
supported living project in Kidderminster. I did not want this but
I had been persuaded by my social worker from Solihull social
services, who said they would no longer pay for me to stay at
“mum’s and dad’s”. I was very unhappy about this.

While I was in the supported living project I became depressed,
lonely and confused. I felt under pressure, the staff kept telling
me what to do. They said I had to come straight from college, they
wouldn’t give me a break, they were always on my back. They decided
when I should eat and go to bed, they wouldn’t let me play my
music. I wasn’t independent like my social worker said I would be.
I couldn’t cope with my money so didn’t have enough for food or
doing things that I like doing.

In Kidderminster when I lived with “mum” and “dad” I used to go to
the Gateway club, PHAB club, special olympics, the cinema, concerts
and the advocacy group but when I moved to the supported living
project I wasn’t helped to do these things.

I lost weight and people said I looked terrible. I had difficulty
managing my epilepsy and because I am registered blind I found it
difficult to travel around. When I first moved to Kidderminster
with my foster parents they showed me how to get around – that
didn’t happen in the new place. I became cross and angry with the
staff, I started to use bad language and found it difficult to
control my temper.

On Christmas Eve the supporting people landlord and care manager
gave me letters that terminated my care support and my placement.
They said I had to get out by 7 February. I was upset and panicked;
my social worker said I was making myself homeless on purpose. My
friend said I could stay with her. This didn’t work out and on 6
February I found myself with my belongings in the street. My
advocate, Catherine, phoned “mum” who told her to bring me and my
things home.

I was so glad to be back home. The trouble is, social services have
refused to pay for my care there. They told me I have to go to
another supporting people placement and the only ones they have
offered are in Birmingham.

I really want to stop here with my foster mum and dad, and I am
fighting social services with the help of a solicitor and my
advocate. The not knowing what is going to happen is stressful as I
have Asperger’s syndrome and learning difficulties which make it
difficult for me to cope with change.

I can only hope that people will start listening to me.

David Swinbourne is a service user. He wrote this article
with support from his advocate, Catherine Quekett.

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