15-year-old Samantha lives in one of our Aberlour Sycamore houses in Fife. She has been supported by Caitlyn since she moved into the house over a year ago. Samantha tells her story, explains how Caitlyn supports her and why she nominated Caitlyn for Residential Superstar of the Year at the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care (SIRCC) Awards.
I haven’t lived with my mum since I was 9 years old. She is blind so couldn’t quite look after me properly. I then went to live with my Auntie. It wasn’t great, we had a very volatile relationship. We don’t get on. It didn’t work.
I wanted to move into care. I used to think ‘any place would be better than being at home.’ I had been on respite breaks in the past to get away from my Auntie, but I didn’t move into the Aberlour Sycamore house until I was 14 years old. That’s when I met Caitlyn.
The reality of moving into residential care wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I used to watch ‘The Dumping Ground’ on TV and I thought it was going to be like that. But when I came here, I realised it wasn’t all Tracey Beaker, it wasn’t just a song and dance. This is now my life.
I wasn’t Caitlyn’s best friend on my first day. But she never gave up on me. I was scared to like her or get attached to her because everyone I have ever liked in past has left me. Together from my first day in the house we built our relationship and she became my silent cheerleader, the person always rooting for me to do my best and has my best interests at heart.
Caitlyn helps me with everything. But she has really helped me at school. Before moving into the house, I had a really broken education. I had been asked to leave school and only saw a teacher for 2 hours a day in a social work office. When I first moved in Caitlyn and I went to the Aberlour Sycamore Nurturing Hub, then within a couple of months I was in High School full time studying for my National 4 exams.
Caitlyn helps me to focus at school and not to get distracted. Caitlyn helped me to improve my grades so I could apply for college. She sits there, almost like a safety blanket. Sometimes school gets too much; I want to leave at times but Caitlyn being there allows me to take part in class when I wouldn’t have done that before.
She also helps me with the social part of school as I always struggled with that. She has helped me to know what is socially acceptable and what is not socially acceptable at break. Like what to say and what not to say in front of my peers. It is tough for me as sometimes I just want to shout.
I see Caitlyn like my mum; she is really important to me and I feel like part of a family. I am looking forward to the summer as I have a few trips planned and I am getting an award from the Girls’ Brigade. Then in September I will be going to college to study my National 5’s in English, maths and psychology. I wouldn’t have been able to apply for that without Caitlyn’s help. Without her helping me to focus and work hard, to achieve what I want to do in my life. I am looking forward to it as she will be there with me in college like in school, she will be there to help me with everything.
As a thank you to Caitlyn I nominated her to be Residential Superstar of the Year at the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care (SIRCC) Awards. She has been helping me so much, she deserves to win. My proudest moment yet has been to have the confidence to nominate Caitlyn. To tell other people how I felt and then to send it.
Aberlour Sycamore Service