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

Tiredness, hungry and struggling to concentrate – and it’s only day two of living on a limited budget

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

So day two is over and as is the case with all best laid plans it didn’t go as expected.

I’ve noticed a couple of unexpected things which have happened since starting this on Monday. Firstly my concentration span isn’t what it was previously. I’ve been really tired for the past two days.

When I’ve thought about the calories I’m consuming I think it’s less than 1,500 per day. All of which is having an effect on how quickly I can do day-to-day parts of my role and it is quite honestly making me far more irritable than I normally am.

It’s something I didn’t even think about before in terms of the effect living on such a low income can have on care leavers.  I now think back to those occasions when young people have presented ‘challenging behaviour’ in the reception area and when they have been upset about stuff. I can begin to understand a little more now, how you can react to situations in a disproportionate way when you are feeling tired, hungry and struggling to concentrate.

I was intending to go to the market yesterday and try and buy some cheap fruit and vegetables to pad out the meals I’ve already made. Unfortunately, because of several meetings I had to attend, I missed my opportunity, which has really annoyed me, because I haven’t had any fruit for two days now. Once again highlighting how organised you have to be when you are living on such little money.

This week we had an OFSTED monitoring visit, which ended yesterday. I’m pleased to say the feedback from OFSTED was positive and so as is tradition when things go well we all headed out as a team for a drink. For the first time in my adult life I was reliant on others to buy me a drink. That’s a strange feeling because I’ve been financially independent since I was in my late teens, which if you’re wondering was 20 years ago! I never really thought about how it makes you feel to be in a position where you are reliant on other people to buy you things.

You might be thinking, well that’s not really living like a care leaver Andy, but knowing the Ofsted visit was happening this week we asked our care leavers if it was ok for people to occasionally buy me things, like a drink, as a gift, and they said of course it’s what they do it for each other.

I thought that was really sweet before I started this. Now I know how significant it must be for them to help each other out and that really inspires me. Despite how difficult life must be, they still look out for each other. The Beatles sang “I’ll get by with a little help from my friends”. I don’t think I’d be getting through this week without my colleagues helping out where they can. I guess that’s something we all need to think a little bit more about when care leavers show up at our door needing help. 


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