Black History Month has been a time to celebrate! We have received some writing from a young man who used to be in the care of one of our Foster Carers. He has achieved an incredible amount over the years and he has written about his positive experience of being in Foster care and being raised so wonderfully by a Black Woman in London.
When I trace my life since I came to the UK, I am amazed at how so many things came together, to give me a life of such privilege and opportunity. It may sound strange to use ‘privilege’ and ‘foster care’ in the same sentence but that is exactly how I would characterise the life which I enjoy in this country. As a Christian, I can’t help but always see God’s hand in all of it.
For so many, leaving their home to come to a strange land can be a daunting and lonely experience but when I first came to the UK I was excited and dazzled by the prospect of coming to a European nation. I left a happy home in a country where politics got the best of good-willed people and came to discover a multicultural city full of new and exciting things.
By virtue of my age, I was placed in a foster care to a wonderful caring black woman. To say that I was well looked after would be an understatement. This woman became my mother, my father, my carer and my friend. Perhaps the most significant impact she had on my life is how she supported the things which I was passionate about. Where others would have frowned at a career in the arts, my foster care saw me through the years of doubts, wonders, and deadlines with nothing but loving support; I am a trained graphic designer now. My time in foster care was not always easy and I was very aware of my unusual life compared to my school companions. I habitually missed my family but what helped through that difficulty was discovering a number of people (especially from church) who truly loved and cared for me.
One of the most difficult things about being fostered is sometimes feeling like you are part of some business plan. A foster child quickly gets used to meetings, agendas, reports, procedures, check-ups and worst of all, changes. For the most part, these things are necessary but I think one of the biggest challenges that I have overcome is really getting through those late teen years without too many problems. Where many fall into all sorts of social problems, I was able to get through my whole education phase, whilst dealing with all the transitions.
For ethnic minorities, identity can sometimes be the most complex thing to manoeuvre especially during school time. Being raised by a black woman, who taught me her black history, gave me a great sense of belonging and connection. When I went out into the vast cultural phenomenon that was London, it was easy to feel lost and feel a lack of connection with people that knew nothing of your culture. But at least I could always return to a place where the gap was smaller. Another thing that helped was also the inclusive teaching on race and identity from the Christian church. From this perspective, the celebration of Black History month is a great occasion as it provides black people with a source of confidence, understanding and pride.