Hi all, my name is Liam Hill, I am a founder and CEO of a social enterprise called Voice for Children CiC. This is my first of hopefully many blogs to come in the future. For those readers that don’t know, I was put on a full care order at the age of 5 and during the next 13 years I was moved 64 times.
It is no secret that a large amount of children and young adults who have been in the care system have experienced high number of placements. At the age of 5, I was taken away from my family home and placed within a foster family with my brother and sister, all I can remember of that day was police kicking down our front door and social services removing us from our mum.
During the first 5 years of my childhood I had experienced severe neglect, physical & emotional abuse and was being raised by a single mother as my dad was not around. My mum had a heroin addiction and on numerous occasions was sent to prison, this was the beginning of my care journey.
I remember pulling up to a house with nice cars on the drive, the garden decorated with flowers and a woman with a smile to greet me at the door, this was already a shock to myself as I was raised on a notorious estate called Moat House, these were high rise flats and the crime statistics in this area were extremely high.
I remember feeling scared and confused as to who this lady was and to come to terms with the fact that this was my new home and everything I had known my whole life was suddenly about to change.
Myself and my siblings walked into the house and instantly we were hit with new things we had never experienced before, the foster carers had pets, the floors were carpeted, dinner was prepared at the table for everyone to sit around, they had numerous televisions, 2 bathrooms, 6 bedrooms, a conservatory, the list could go on. When we lived with our mum we lived in a flat with no carpets, fridge with no food, having to get ourselves tea and so on.
We ate dinner together and all I could remember was demolishing my plate of food whilst trying to take in the new environment. When our social worker left our foster carer had run us a nice warm bath and they helped us to get a wash, put us in our pjs and read us a story before we went to bed, even though this may be considered normal and comforting, all I could remember was wanting to be back with my mum, back to the place we called home. Some people may ask why? The simple answer is because that was my life, yes we weren’t always warm, yes we may not have always been fed, yes we may have been hit by my mums partners and yes it was a terrible time, but the love we had for our mother was unconditional and this life was the only life we knew.
As time went on, I struggled to adjust to the care system, I met numerous professionals, I had numerous doctors, dentist appointments etc. I was permanently excluded from my primary school as I had attacked a member of staff when trying to run off to my mums, which was located close to the school. At times I would become angry as I always blamed my self for being in care, why didn’t my mum want me? Was I not good enough? Could I have done something to stop this?
No one ever explained to me the reason for everything that was happening, I was just told I needed a new mummy and daddy that could care for me.
I would often cry myself to sleep missing the familiar sound of my mums voice, the familiar smell when we cuddled up, even at this young age without my mum I felt low and didn’t want to be alive without her.
My behaviour became worse, I disengaged from education, became abusive to my foster family, was falling out with my family, at this point my foster parents had, had enough, my social worker came around one day and even though I was young, I knew something must be happening for her to be there, after everything that had happened she is the one who was making the decisions. On Christmas eve in 1997 my foster mum said to me that ‘I am your new mummy,’ I stood up on the table and said ‘you are not my mum’ and I began to damage the kitchen. Shortly after my social worker arrived, all my belongings were in black bin bags, my brother and sister were in bed and within 10 minutes I was in the car, little did I know I was leaving and was on my way to a new emergency placement.
I once again felt that it was my fault I have had to be moved, it was my fault I couldn’t see my brother and sister any more, it was my fault that my mum doesn’t want me. Never at one point did I feel like I was the victim, I felt I was the perpetrator for everything that was happening. Yes my behaviour wasn’t the best, yes I was not currently in education, yes I always wanted to run away but did anyone ever think that I was just a scared young boy, who has suffered serious amount of trauma and all I wanted was my mum.