Lewis

When Lewis' Mum passed away life was turned upside down for him and his siblings. He tells us how Action for Children helped him find the stability he needed.

I grew up in a large family, there were four of us children and the house was always hectic but it was home. As the years went on, Dad became more and more absent, disappearing for weeks at a time and only popping in every now and again when he needed a roof for the night or some money.

Mum had suffered with a life-limiting illness since we were young so my older sister and I didn't really know any different than to help her with the younger children and the kind of household chores my mates weren't even aware of, like loading the washing machine and doing the weekly shop.

As the years went on, Dad became more and more absent, disappearing for weeks at a time and only popping in every now and again when he needed a roof for the night or some money.
Lewis
lewis

When I was old enough to work, my day became a routine of paper round before school, attend school with a visit home to check on mum at lunchtime, then work in the local shop until it closed at 7pm, dinner, homework, chores, then bed.

Weekends were filled up with looking after the younger ones and keeping up with the housework really. We didn’t really have time for friends but even the friends we did have didn’t know or understand how different our lives were compared to theirs.

One day we got called in to the school office to be told our mum had been taken in to hospital and she wasn’t expected to live for much longer. Mum passed away two weeks later. My oldest sister was 17 so she went to live with her boyfriend’s family, while my brothers and sisters and I were separated and placed with different foster care families.

 

I was 15 and my life had been turned upside down. I moved between a couple of temporary foster care placements and would have regular visits to see my brothers and sisters but I was yearning for stability and to have control of building my own life. To make my mum proud.

My social worker introduced me to Action for Children and I was offered an interview for a room in one of their supported housing projects. The idea is it allows young people, who might otherwise be homeless, the chance to live independently but with someone always around from Action for Children to guide you on your money management, staying in education or getting a job, how to maintain your tenancy and respect rules of living with others. You get your own room and have shared access to a kitchen, lounge and bathrooms. You cook and clean for yourself, or together with your housemates if you like, and we each have to pay a minimum amount of rent each week. I demonstrated in the interview that I was committed to studying and working and would be a trustworthy tenant. I moved in shortly after my 16th birthday and am in year one of a three year engineering apprenticeship.

I’ve made some good friends and feel like I’ve got an extended family in my housemates and the Action for Children staff who really care about us and are always there for advice or just when you need a chat. I still see my brothers and sisters - they are happy and I hope one day, we can all live together again.