We spent a long time thinking about what the purpose of Avocados was, what we wanted to create but more importantly what anyone who has care experience might need.
One common thread stuck out above all others, from all the people we spoke to, that we have been friends with, that we have seen people experience. That is the need for connections, lifelong, secure, unconditional.
There are so many different family types; biological children, non-biological, 1 parent, 2 parents, stepfamilies, half siblings, living with grandparents, aunts, uncles, family friends, foster parents, adoption, you name it. But the thing that most people get to take for granted is that when they hit 16yrs old, they won’t be thinking about moving out, they won’t be thinking about ‘independence’. They won’t be thinking about leaving home, moving to a new house or having to budget, pay rent, bills or deal with the council for benefits. Focusing on your exams at GCSE or A levels and thinking about having to get a job to make ends meet. Stories of having to work 3 jobs and do a degree, having to run a flat at 18 with no job and trying to complete A levels. Living in a tent as there is nowhere to go and that’s before you even think about young people who might experience family breakdown post 16 and then living in unregulated supported living arrangements.
This is the reality for lots of care leavers and people with care experience. They have to start thinking about these things from 16, and not in a ‘this will happen one day’ kind of thing, this will happen at 18. Unless you have supportive foster parents, who are happy for you to ‘stay put’ or can make agreements for you to stay on post 18.
Everyone should have someone they can call when things are going well, or things are tough. Somewhere they can go when they need connection or support or escape from adulting. Most young adults don’t leave home until their late 20s, possibly early 30s and yet we expect those in the care system to be independent at 18. And if not then, definitely by 25.
So how do we want to help? Avocados wants to create community for care. A community that is long lasting and supports each other. To be extended family for those that want it, to be an ear at the end of the phone and more importantly a place to champion each other.
Anyone who lives in Devon, from any authority, with any type or length of care experience. Kinship, Special Guardianship, Adoption, Foster Care, Residential care, a week, a month a year, 10 years or more, you are welcome to be part of our community, in any way you need.