Jake’s early childhood was chaotic and included domestic abuse and being moved between family members and short-term foster placements all over the UK.

By the time was settled with long-term foster carers at the age of 11 he’d already had more disruption and instability in his life than most people ever experience.

“I was messed up as a child and a teenager. When I arrived at my foster parents I went straight to the fridge, I was never given enough food, I was starving. I felt lost, I didn’t know who I was, I couldn’t think ahead or about the future.”

Jake took part in New Beginnings; a Brathay project for young people who were preparing to, or who had left, care. He was part of the young people’s advisory group which helped steer the project. The residential weekends at Brathay Hall became a refuge for him “It was peaceful and gave me time to think. I would lose myself in the grounds. Brathay became a catalyst for me to think about myself. Because of my experiences I disassociated from my feelings and became ill, I felt like I’d had to grow up too fast.”

“At New Beginnings I didn’t feel like I was a number; we all had our own individual talents and had something we could give to the group. When I first started with New Beginnings I was a mess and one of the workers took me under his wing and looked after me. It gave me a chance to get things off my chest.  It provided a sanctuary.”

I developed more in the short times I was at Brathay than I ever did in all the time when I was away from it. The people there are not just staff, they’re counsellors, support workers, psychologists, they help people manage their emotions because they’re there to listen, because they’re just there for you. It wouldn’t be what it is without the staff.

“When you go through a Brathay programme you end up knowing exactly who you are and it makes you more prepared for the future.”

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