Four portions of homemade vegetable chilli.

It’s the things you take for granted that you miss the most!

Read the latest blog from Andy as part of our special series of blogs for National Care Leavers' week. 

Afternoon everyone,

Thanks for checking back in. So I’ll start by saying day one was way harder than I thought it would be. It’s the things you take for granted that you miss the most. For me that’s coffee, but on my budget it’s simply not affordable.

The day was hectic, meetings backed up all morning followed by our open day in 18 plus service in the afternoon. This was the first time I realized that when you are on a very low income you have to be organized. I’d bought a 49p can of soup for lunch, but I didn’t have the time to eat it. On any other day I’d have grabbed something on the go, but when your budget is so tight, there simply aren’t those options open to you.

Before I go on about the rest of my day, I’d just like to take the opportunity to highlight how amazing our care leavers were at the open day. They showcased all their achievements to colleagues from the wider partnership and were so welcoming to other young people who’ll be joining the service in the next few months.

It was amazing to see these inspirational young people showing the distributed leadership we are trying to achieve in the Trust. They represent the very best of what we are all about and they all made me so proud.

At the end of the day, I thought things would get easier when I got home. If anything they got harder!

As part of my promise to do this authentically, I can’t afford Sky, Broadband and I only have £2.90 allocated for personal texts and calls outside of work. So when got home, I sent two tweets before turning all my technology off.

For me that basically means no connection to the world outside my front door. If you think that would be easy and you’re reading this at home, look around at all the technology within 10ft of where you are sitting and think what it would like if you couldn’t use any of that.

We talk a lot about how connected this generation are through technology, without realising there’s a big section of our young people experience the world without social media because they can’t afford to stay connected. Don’t believe me?

None of the care leavers at the open day are following this on Twitter, even though they are excited to see how I get on, because they can’t afford to use the small amount of data they get on their phones and none of them have home broadband. I never really thought about that till tonight, when my mobile phone, laptop and Sky box were all as good as useless to me.

So no TV, no internet, at least I had dinner right? Well, I did, and it was quite nice home-made vegetarian chilli. But then it should be as I teach care leavers how to cook at our “Cooking with Andy”. I made four portions for under £5 to save cash and as you can see from the photos it was pretty good, but because I had to cook in bulk, I’ll be eating it till Thursday, so I might not feel quite the same way about it by then!

So day one is done and I’m off to bed early because there’s nothing else to do. I’ve spent £5.50 of my £16.90 food budget. I’ve got evening meals till Thursday, two cans of soup for lunches, half a bag of onions left over from the chilli and a loaf of bread I’m keeping in the freezer - so I can use it a slice at a time to take me through the week. I’ve got £10.40 left, six days to go, it’s going be tight.

Check back in tomorrow to see how I get on bargain shopping at Doncaster Market for cut-price fruit and vegetables.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this. If you are a business and have any interest in getting involved to make the lives of care leavers better in Doncaster, or anywhere in the UK, please drop me a line I’d love to talk to you.


Andy Hood

Head of Service for Targeted Youth Support at Doncaster Children’s Services Trust

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