Claire’s story begins at the age of 10 when she found out that the man she called dad was actually her grandfather – her mum and dad had split up after Claire was born.
She says that this is when her behaviour changed and she began running away from home. Her mum had got a new man in her life but Claire didn’t like him much because she felt a little pushed out. She says that she had spent some time in emergency care to give her mum a break and that she didn’t really understand what was happening, as she was too young.
It was arranged that she would live with other family members and while the arrangement worked well for a time, it eventually broke down and Claire went to a Children’s home. She stopped going to school and says she made some choices which in hindsight she regrets.
When she eventually returned to stay with her family, she began to grow closer to them and started concentrating on school and her future.
Claire laughs as she remembers how at 17 she thought she was ‘all grown up’ and wanted to get out into the big wide world. She moved in with a friend after a row with her family and at around the same time got a new boyfriend, but remembers feeling hurt, worried and being underweight.
Claire heard about Impact from her aftercare worker, who told her about an organisation that provided support and furnished accommodation. Looking back, she says she loved the fact that even though she was around people who didn’t know her very well, she nevertheless felt supported and cared for. However, she admits that some of her decisions were immature and that one them was to move out of Impact as she thought the grass looked greener elsewhere.
Wanting to be independent, Claire got a job with a Bradford company doing administration/reception work, eventually becoming ‘acting office supervisor’ in the HR department. She loved the lifestyle and enjoyed socialising with her friends. She also got a new boyfriend and life was generally good. Cracks however, started to appear. She realised that even though she was very capable, there were things she simply could not cope with in her personal and work life. Her response was to hand her notice in at work and to move back in with her mum.
In the midst of trying to find a new job, Claire decided to see if she could get accommodation with Impact once again. Now looking to the future, she says that within the next two years she wants to go to college and sort out ‘her stuff’.
She says that at Impact, she gets the support she wants and needs. She is meeting with her support worker on a weekly basis to help her manage the ‘day to day’ stuff (Claire says she would like her life to be stress and worry free).
Claire is looking forward to becoming more involved in Impact’s activities and would like to be a volunteer. She says that in a few years time she would like to be seen as a good role model for young people who live in Impact.
To vulnerable young people in a similar situation, she offers the following advice “Stop and think why things are going wrong. Could it be that you need some help? If you do, just ask for it. It is really hard but it only takes one step to talk to someone about things, but then you get your confidence and things don’t seem as hard and it feels a bit better”.
Claire knows that there are always people worse off than her and this keeps her going most of the time.