Charlene’s story

I remember the day that I left my mum’s. I was at my nursery and social work came in and said we were going away. I went into foster care. Then when I was 12, I came to live in Sycamore. I was shy. I just did my own thing. But once I got to know the staff I came out my shell. I could always talk to them. I felt happy and safe there.

I stayed in Sycamore until I was 18. It was the longest time I spent anywhere. It was a family. Someone was always there. They were easy to talk to, although I never really talked about the things that happened to me when I was younger. They are still helping me with that now.

The staff at Sycamore taught me how to cook. Every Friday me and the cook would go through the menu for the next week, and we’d decide what we were going to have for dinner and pudding each night. I enjoyed Sycamore really. It was a happy time.

The best days were New Year’s Day. Every year we’d all go on the minibus and have a barbecue on Elie beach. It might have been cold but we loved it. Christmases were good too. We got up at 6 o’clock. All of us would run down to the living room and the staff would come in sometimes with the camera or video. I’ve still got my first Christmas present that I ever got at Sycamore. It was a ghetto blaster. The tape decks are broken now and the CD player is broken now but the radio still works.

Now, I see Katrina from the aftercare team at Sycamore, once a week. We usually go out for a coffee or a meal and have a wee chat about the things that are on my brain. She’s easy to talk to. I don’t like talking about those things that happened to me when I was younger, I keep those things to myself. She’s helping me get some counselling now, to help me deal with it. I have a son of my own now.

Sometimes I wonder about where I would be if I hadn’t gone to Sycamore, and I know for a fact that I would be in the jail. I know this because some of the people I was playing with when I was young are in jail. So are some of my family. But I’ve never been in any trouble.

I think I am a good mum and I’m happy. When I look to the future, I just want to make a good life for my son.