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Advice for young people

This page was written by a group of St Christopher’s children and young people. They wanted to explain their experiences of St Christopher’s to anyone who was coming to live in one of our homes or services, or who was coming into care for the first time.

What is it like to live at St Christopher’s?

“Sometimes I think about what my life would have been like if I had moved to St Christopher’s earlier. I think I would be in a much better place than I am now. They do good things. I feel lucky I have come here.” Sayid

What are the staff like?

“Sometimes the staff don’t feel like staff. They are really understanding. I can talk to them about anything and I know they won’t judge me. They always let me say all I have to say and don’t spend lots of time giving their opinion or telling me I am bad or what I have done is wrong. They get me and accept me. They let me be me.” Phoebe

“They get me and respect me. They don’t think that I am stupid or that there’s no point in asking me. They come and find me, they ask me, they make sure they find out what I want. They don’t guess or assume or think I want the same as everyone else.” Nathaniel

What is it like to live with a foster family?

“Living with my foster family was the best thing. I wish I had stayed there longer. I felt so special, like they really cared. My foster carers were just so nice and always wanted to do things with me. They made time for me and included me in their home. They helped me decorate my bedroom so it was somewhere I wanted to be, gave me a routine and a takeaway every Friday. I always knew how things would be with them – they treated me kind no matter what. I could count on them. If I had a meeting at college I wouldn’t have to ask them, they would already be coming with me.” David

What is it like to live in a children's home?

“I’ll tell you what it’s not like – it’s not like Tracey Beaker. You think it is all fun and practical jokes –it’s not. It’s really hard. But I am glad I am here. This feels like home for me. Yeah, I have my other family and I might see them a bit and I know they will always be around but I feel like I belong here. I feel calm and it is somewhere where I know people will help me, they look out for me, they make me laugh and they want the best for me. They always believe in me, even when I sometimes don’t believe in myself.” Ashleigh

“The best thing about living in a children’s home is the staff. You don’t just have one good person you have loads and they are all good at different things. So they can help you with anything that is going on in your life and they will do whatever you want with you so you never feel alone.” Jasir

What is it like to live in a semi-independent home?

“It’s different to a children’s home or foster family and it’s a challenge, but it’s also a step forward. You have your own room, your own space and you live with other people your age. Sometimes that’s hard. When everyone is going through a tough time you sometimes don’t have the patience to deal with everyone else’s moods but then sometimes it is a really good thing, having people around your age that know what you are going through and can help you ask for support or just make you feel like someone cares or even just take your mind of it. And you’re not really on your own. You get the chance to be independent but you get a lot of support too. You have a key worker and meet with them all the time but you get support with learning how to cook, pay bills, budget, sort out appointments and managing your rent. Now I am used to it I would never want to go back. I have my independence and it feels good knowing that I am doing it myself.” Melika

Who are Ofsted?

“Ofsted are there to make sure that people do their job properly so that we get the best care, or that we get the care we should and people are treating us the way they should. They come a lot and I think staff are in contact with them more than just inspections. They are like the roof of the house. They make sure all the walls are good and held up to do their job.” Meghan

“All children and young people have a right to care, safety and support so Ofsted check we are receiving this in our homes. They are independent so can make a fair assessment and they have lots of experience, so they know what we need and what is possible in our homes. They come to check that everything is OK, give you a chance to say how you feel about the home and support staff to make where you live even more positive and happy.” William

How do I make a complaint about St Christopher’s when I live there?

“There are loads of different ways to complain. To make a complaint you can just find a member of staff and tell them or you can fill out a complaint form in writing. They will read the complaint and they have to take it seriously. They will tell you what they are going to do in response to the complaint. It might be that they can fix the problem straight away or it might take a bit longer and they will have to speak to a manager or get more information but once you make a complaint that is it, something has to be done and you have to get a response.” Tristan

“The first time I made a complaint I was not sure whether to or not. I felt really bad and I thought the staff would be upset that I was making the complaint. But it wasn’t like that. They were nice about it, they even helped me write some of it and then things got sorted. I made a complaint about my door not closing properly and then the next day someone was there fixing it. It felt good that I had been listened to.” Joe

What is the Diamond Fund?

“The Diamond Fund is some money to help you get ahead with your life. When I turned 18, I was not sure how I was going to get a job as I don’t have any qualifications. I thought being a security guard would be a good job but the course cost £300 – I didn’t have any money and my social worker couldn’t pay. St Christopher’s paid for me to get my SIA qualification through the Diamond Fund and then I was able to apply for security jobs. I am working at the moment as a steward at football matches.” Callum

“St Christopher’s Diamond Fund helped me so much. When I got my hairdressing apprenticeship I needed some extra bits to help me be able to get a job in the salon as part of my course requirements. So I applied to the Diamond Fund for some money and told them what I wanted to achieve. They paid for me to get scissors, straighteners, a hairdryer and products. I have been able to get a job in a local salon to help me put everything I learnt on my course into practice.” Marina

I need advice. Who can I ask?

“Sometimes it is good just to talk to someone who does not know everything about you and isn’t going to write it all down and bring it up next time you talk. You feel more comfortable to say how things really are. Childline have trained counsellors who can help you if you need someone to talk to and they can tell you other people to phone if you want more help.” Amir

“I called Childline and they helped by contacting the police and my home. It was good. I didn’t feel brave enough to tell the staff how I was feeling but they took it out of my control. They knew the staff needed to know what was going on and so they told them for me. I felt relieved.” Alex

NSPCC Childline: 0800 1111

Ofsted: 0300 123 1231