Earlier this year, the charity Coram Voice launched its third annual creative writing competition Voices for children in care and young care leavers. The competition provides a platform for young people in care to express their creative talent and improve understanding of their experiences.
Winner of the Secondary School category in this year’s Voices competition was J, 17.
The gentle breeze of wind scurried over my back as I awoke to a new day. I breathed a soft sigh as I collected my thoughts, each word travelling around my brain like a hurricane.
I had been warned, so I knew what to expect. I got up and put on my pyjamas and tip‐toed downstairs, where I noticed ‘the letter’ on the sofa. It was a warning that I could be taken away from my home.
Most children would be scared, maybe cry, but I had to be strong. As I poured my drink and set it on the table, I thought of the events that had led to this point; the few disasters that had changed my life.
The first and most important disaster was when my mother went into debt. She was happy to admit it was her fault, but she still knew that life was about to get tough.
We went from being a fairly normal family, who lived off high brand food, to being a family scrounging for even the smallest benefits. Long story short; my mother broke. She understood that she couldn’t care for me like this, and made the hardest choice of her life.
I still think about that call she made. Since we lived in a small house I heard every word from her mouth. I could even make out some of the words on the other end of the phone. It was obvious that it was the police with the typical voice. “Emergency, what service do you require?” and all that scripted stuff.
My mother cried and pleaded that they help me, take me somewhere where I could live happily again. I cried too. I cried all night, not because I felt unwanted but because I knew my mum was doing the right thing.
Not long after, I was greeted at the door by a social worker who had to take me to my new home. She was very cheerful, which helped to improve my low mood. She explained how the next few weeks of my life would go and what would happen, all of which I was fine with.
We stopped the car outside of a small, but very cosy house. “Don’t worry” she told me, with a glint of joy in her eyes as she knocked on the door. A man answered, quite old, but seemingly pleasant. He too gave off a feeling or cheeriness.
He showed me to my room, and left again to talk to the social worker while I laid out my things, and placed them where needed.
I found a picture of my mother, and I and clutched it against my chest as I laid down and closed my eyes.
I finished writing this story with a strong smile, as I looked into the eyes of my new carers of just over a year. It had taken a long time to be comfortable enough to tell them, but now it feels like home.
Judges’ comments: “This was an extraordinarily powerful first-person account, which took the simplest approach but still stood out as being very maturely written in a way that put us in the writer’s shoes.”
For more information please visit: Coram Voice