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Preparing care leavers for the road ahead – Karim’s story

Young people have described to us that leaving care can feel like dropping off a cliff edge. Suddenly you are all alone and are an adult, but at the same time you are just a teenager.

Our Aftercare team support young people on the Isle of Man to make a successful transition to adulthood. The young people have time and opportunities to experience life after care and then discuss what they have learnt so that when the moment arrives it isn’t a shock.

When we first met Karim it was a tense meeting! He was living with foster parents who were desperately worried about him and angry at the situation that brought us all together. Karim had previously had a psychological report written that indicated he was incapable of living independently and yet his case was due to be closed at 18 and he would have to move out as he did not meet the criteria for adult social services. Nothing made sense and it seemed that all support for Karim would just fall away on his 18th birthday.

Step one was to help Karim develop the life skills that he needed to improve based on his assessment in order to live on his own – reading, writing, socialising and relationship skills. But as the team started to work it was clear his skills didn’t match his report. Karim said that the whole assessment process had reduced his self-belief and made him feel stupid just before he was assessed. It was clear that the system had failed him.

What both Karim and his foster parents needed was time and support. Over the following months, as well as working with Karim, we also kept in touch with his foster carers and listened to their concerns, something they felt had not happened in the past. At the same time we kept in contact with Karim’s real father to help resolve some tensions between him and the foster carers.

Karim is now working full time, has a good social life and his relationships with his father and extended family have vastly improved. He is still voluntarily living with his foster family.

Our Aftercare team are there for whenever a care leaver needs them. Without St Christopher’s support, Karim would have continued thinking that he was incapable of achieving anything when in fact the opposite is true.

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