“I was born with Cerebral Palsy, it might seem all bad when you see me for the first time; I am in a wheelchair, I don’t have full control over my body and speaking is hard, but this is just on the surface. I am a very happy, socially well-connected individual who really enjoys life. My condition doesn’t define me anymore and that’s partly because of the support of my grandparents and EPIC (Empowering People in Care). Things became much easier when I began living with my grandparents. I used to live with my parents, but unfortunately, they fell into addiction and were not able to look after me properly. Back then, I was still too young to understand what was happening around me and I often felt lost, confused, and lonely. My parents may have made some mistakes in life but that doesn’t mean that they are bad people or that they don’t love me. Now, I understand that addiction is a very complex issue. I am proud of my dad who came out on the other end and is now working and also volunteering with addiction services. Unfortunately, my mother is still in the same boat, but I am hoping that she will be able to get out of it eventually. I do thank my grandparents because if they didn’t step in, God knows where my situation would be now. I grew up in the care system, with a lot of professionals around me. They used to come to visit me with their folders, paperwork, and regular questions. It was all very professional… I didn’t have too much hope for the system until I found EPIC. They are now a huge part of my life and I have a lot of friends there. They help guide me through my projects. I have also been on the EPIC Youth Council for nearly three years now. I admire the work they do; they help young people to blossom. All care leavers need an organisation like EPIC to fall back on. This may sound like a cliché but joining them was one of the happiest days in my life. I always wanted to be around like-minded people. Even though we all came from different experiences, we are all pushing for the same thing and working with them has been one of the most incredible experiences in my life.”
This story was highlighted by @epicireland. Alan is a member of the EPIC Youth Council and an active campaigner for the rights and positive visibility of children and young people in the care system.
For #CareDay22, children and young people like Alan with experience of being in State care wanted to extend their Care Day celebrations to include the people who have been a positive influence in their lives; and highlight how important these relationships are in shaping their care journeys. They asked people to realise their potential to be that important person in a child or young person’s life and to make a pledge to become #CareAware.
You can learn more here: PR: EPIC Youth Council calls on public to become #CareAware | EPIC (epiconline.ie)