John, one of our specialist Door To The Future mentors, recounts Jack’s story:
Although he’s in his twenties, Jack’s quite immature. I think that’s something to do with having been in the care system, it takes people a bit longer to grow up. When I first met Jack he was living is supported housing but approaching 21 meant he’d need to move out, and this was filling him with anxiety and depression. We managed to get a fuller diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – not because of a single incident, but because of the ongoing trauma of having lived in and around care for all his life.
But he was quite irresponsible, and so he wasn’t taking his medication at all. He said it didn’t help but we pointed out he needed to give it time to kick in. I helped him develop a system to remember to take his meds, and also held him accountable to doing it.
He was also in massive denial about the amount of debt he had. Partly this was down to his inability to organise his paperwork and couldn’t keep up. I think he had 5 different phone contracts,
including one for an ex-girlfriend, all in debt and he didn’t have any of the phones anymore! I helped him engage with the CAB to start the process of getting a Debt Relief Order, and would speak to the various companies on the phone with his permission because he couldn’t cope with doing it himself.
In fact communication with anyone was really complex – he couldn’t deal with anyone in authority or any establishment, again this is common for those who’ve experienced care. They tend to tell people what they think they want to hear rather than being honest about what’s going on and what they’re feeling. Building trust so he can be honest was a slow but important process.
Part of what I did was help him get mentally prepared to deal with things and people, and the idea of moving out and becoming independent.
We managed to secure him a flat, and P3 helped to furnish and carpet it. He even managed to get a job – he’s got an amazing work ethic and he’s been doing really well with it. I also bought him a file and helped him keep all his paperwork and stuff up to date and in order. The kind of simple skills no-one has ever taught him! Being organised and having a plan helps reduce his anxiety.
I love being a volunteer mentor. I enjoy giving young men like Jack a chance to make life better for themselves. I’ve taught him the tools for living in today’s world – the rest is up to him.
Door to The Future is The Door’s programme funded by the Lloyds Foundation to support Care Leavers. This funding allows us to train volunteers like John to support young people like Jack. If you would like to get involved as a volunteer mentor to be a positive role model for a young person leaving care get in touch with the team: 01453 756745 / firstname.lastname@example.org or visit thedoor.org.uk/volunteering to download an application form