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‘Children in care aren’t monsters – we’re regular kids in rubbish situations’

Georgia Toman went into care at the age of 14 and was suddenly moved 30 miles away weeks before her GCSEs. She says young people in care often feel powerless

Desperately trying to revise for her GCSEs, Georgia Toman was suddenly moved to a children’s home 30 miles away from her school a month before her exams.

She found herself having to wake up at 6am so she could get ready and be out of the home before 7am to travel to her school by taxi for pre-exam lessons. The distance meant she wasn’t able to attend extra study groups to help her revise.

“It was one of the most stressful things I’ve been through, only beaten by going into care itself,” says Georgia, who first went into care at the age of 14.

She had been in a foster placement that broke down and she was initially taken to the children’s home as an emergency placement because they didn’t have anywhere closer.

At what was already a challenging period in her life, Georgia suddenly found herself having to settle into a children’s home with people she didn’t know, in a completely unfamiliar area, and was exhausted by the long days travelling to and from her school.

“I was trying to revise for my GCSEs and suddenly, I was told I was being taken to a children’s home. I didn’t know what to expect as I’d heard so many things about children’s homes and wasn’t happy with the idea, especially so close to my exams.

“However, I was told I was lucky as the other option was to send me to a children’s home 50 miles away and it was said in a way to make me feel that I should be grateful they were putting a roof over my head.”

Georgia, now 21, is at university in Wales in her second year of studying biomedical science.

She tells i that school was the only stable thing in her life at the time, so it was a real wrench to face disruption so close to her GCSEs.

“I felt powerless,” she says. “What a lot of people don’t realise is that that the care system is something that is done to you, not with you. It was a case of ‘this is what is going to happen, suck it up.’

“My social worker was on annual leave at the time so a different social worker picked me up from school with all my stuff in the car and drove me to the children’s home.

“It is like the local authority wants to be your parents when it is convenient, but doesn’t want to be your parents when it is not.

“At that point, school was the only stable part of my life. I wanted to do well in my GCSEs as I saw education as a way out of my situation. But I feel too many people write off people who are in care and think their education isn’t important as they’ll probably end up homeless and on the streets.”

“GCSE results day was a bit of a disappointment and I didn’t do as well as I hoped,” she says. “I think I would have done better if I hadn’t been through what I did at the time. It was purely because I worked hard at college that I managed to get into university.”

Georgia believes the work of Become is so important because it gives young people who have been through care a voice and allows them to shatter myths about children in care.

“I think a lot of people have this view that children in care are little monsters,” she says. “Some people hold this stereotype that we’re all badly behaved, lazy and horrible.

“But we’re not; we’re just regular kids in a rubbish situation. We’re normal people with the same problems as everyone else – but with a few extra added on because of the way the care system is set up.

“I would urge i readers to support Become as it is a charity which gives young people who are in care or who have left care the support and advice they need and allows them to understand their rights as a young person and give us opportunities for a better future.”

How to donate

i has launched its 2023 Christmas Appeal “Together We Care” urging generous readers to raise money to help Become give vital advice and practical support to 1,300 children in care and young care leavers.

We initially set a fundraising target of £75,000 but thanks to the generosity of i readers, we now hope to raise £150,000 for the charity.

Click here to read more about what Become does:

Here’s what your donation can provide:

  • £2.50 sends a handwritten Christmas card to a child in care.
  • £5 helps a child in care stay in touch with brothers or sisters living apart from them.
  • £12 gives Christmas dinner to a young person who recently left care.
  • £25 gives a Christmas present to a child in care or young care leaver.
  • £45 pays for a young person to travel to Parliament to share their story with interested MPs.
  • £50 pays for employment coaching to help someone leaving care find a job.
  • £75 provides one-to-one guidance for a young person applying to university.

Click here to donate:

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