Care Day 22 – 18 February 2022

Today is #CareDay22, a global celebration of the rights, resilience, stories, successes and achievements of care experienced children and young people. For Care Day 22 the theme is “It takes a village to raise a child”, with a focus on how different people and organisations within communities can have a positive influence in the lives of children and young people with care experience and how important these relationships are in shaping care journeys.

The Step-by-Step charity highlights that approximately 10,000 young people leave care each year and 1 in 4 of those find themselves homeless at 18. This is why organisations like Digartref can be crucial in supporting care leavers. Digartref is a not-for-profit registered charity which provides support and assistance to those affected by, or at risk of, homelessness.

Digartref facilities such as Coedlys in Llangefni can have a huge impact when supporting young care leavers.  Tom (not his real name) has been kind enough to share his own story with us with the assistance of Coedlys manager Shell.

Tom was brought up within a happy family, he was one of five boys. His parents ran a successful business and he had very happy memories of family holidays abroad, spending a lot of time with grandparents and having fun. Sadly, Tom’s mother passed away after a short battle with cancer and after his relationship with his father became strained, he left home to go and live with his maternal grandparents. Tragically, he lost both of his grandparents within three years of his mother’s death.

Tom became known to social services as his mental health deteriorated and he began to exhibit risky behaviours. He was initially placed in a hostel in Deiniolen, which he “hated”, but he was later referred to Coedlys by the 16+ team. Tom says he felt safe and welcomed at Coedlys as soon as he moved in and that they were vital in supporting him to realise his dream of going to university.

With the support and the stability they provided Tom was able to focus on achieving the grades in his performing arts college course that would secure him a place at Manchester University. Staff at Coedlys were immensely proud when he played the lead role in “Fame” at the Galeri in Caernarfon.  Tom’s confidence was growing and he started to believe that university was within reach for him.

Staff helped him to apply for university and supported him on the days he felt overwhelmed or had GP or mental health referrals.  They worked together to help him to apply for grants to help fund his move away to university.  He was awarded £1505 towards his accommodation, course fees, dance clothes and stationery, which was a huge relief to him.

In early September, Tom and the staff packed the car together ready to leave for university. He handed his room keys back to the team, thanking them for all their support and took a selfie before heading to the car. One of the Coedlys team went with Tom to Manchester, helped him to unpack the car and set up the student flat where he will spend the next few years studying towards his dream of becoming a professional choreographer. This is a dream which after the early traumas and struggles he went through, Tom believed might not be possible.  Staff at Coedlys speak very fondly of Tom and of how they plan to keep in touch to watch and continually support his progress!

It is inspiring to see the critical role that Coedlys played – and will, I’m sure, continue to play, in this young man’s journey.

If you would like to support the work of Digartref you can do so here Digartref Cyf – JustGiving.

#IwillAnglesey #CareDay2022 #ittakesavillage #icare #careaware

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