A care leaver’s tale

Andrew Hughes left care at 16 and moved back to his mother’s. But
things didn’t work out because, he says, he didn’t have the support
he needed from his outreach worker.

Hughes was “chucked” in a hostel, as he puts it, which “was
disgusting”. It was later shut by environmental health. After that
a housing association found him accommodation, but he started
taking drugs to cope with the fact that he had little support and
his family had moved away.

He says: “It wasn’t a good time. I started taking ecstasy,
amphetamines, just to escape it. It made me ill and I looked

It also led to his eviction. He stopped taking drugs because “they
were killing me” and was housed at the local YMCA. But after being
moved from flat to flat in the YMCA building, Hughes became
depressed which led to destructive behaviour. “I was kicked out
again. When I get depressed I become destructive because I can’t
cope. It’s to get attention to show I need support but that
behaviour gets me kicked out.” 

After another stint at his mother’s, which failed again, and
sofa-surfing at friends’, he went to Shelter. By this time he was
self-harming and on antidepressants. 

“I’ve figured out it’s because of my parents splitting up and being
put in care.”

Hughes is now 22 and is applying for a flat with support from
Shelter. He hopes to have a viewing soon. As a care leaver with
mental health problems he has a priority need.

“The most stressful thing is trying to cope with it.

At 16 I was too young to deal with the situations I was in. It’s
not been a great start in life but it’s made me stronger.” Hughes
is building a relationship with his mother. She has recently
apologised for putting him in care, saying she regretted it, which
were words that he needed to hear. Although he says it is difficult
to forgive, “we can’t move forward without forgiving”.

Once he has a flat, Hughes plans to go to college and gain some
GCSEs. “It feels like a new start: a good start for adult life.”

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