Keeley's journey from escaping violence to living in supported lodgings

Keeley* was taken into care, along with her three siblings, when she was 16 years old. Her dad was an alcoholic and became violent, and her mum was unable to cope.

Close up of ballerina

Keeley said: “For as long as I can remember my dad was abusive. I remember one time my dad came home drunk and came into his and mum's bedroom. I was in there so I hid. He saw me but didn’t turn the light on and thought I was my mum. He started hitting and hitting me and was shocked to realise it was me. 

"We could tell when he was going to get violent when he came in from having had a drink. We used to put sleeping pills in his drink so he’d just drift off to sleep - there would be no fighting and screaming that night.

Keeley was taken into care when she was 16.

"When I came home from college there were police at the bottom of the drive. I thought they’d come for my dad. Social workers told me that we couldn’t be placed together because there were too many of us for one placement. I felt that overnight I had lost both parents and my sisters."

Ballerina with I am hope slogan

Keeley stayed in a foster placement for a year, then another for six months. She had contact with her sisters but was no longer living with them.

“I was told that Barnardo’s might be able to help me with their supported lodging scheme. I didn’t feel ready to live on my own so this seemed like a good idea. I met Trevor from Barnardo’s. He was very nice and down to earth. He asked me what sort of place I’d like to live in.”

Keeley was then introduced to Julie and Matt, Barnardo’s supported lodging providers who also had children of their own. “They sounded perfect to me,” said Keeley. “I met them and they seemed so nice. We just clicked and got on like a house on fire. I have my own room but also company in the house. Julie and Matt are helping me to learn new skills, like cooking and budgeting, for when I’m ready to be independent."

Keeley is currently at college. She added: “If I’d not gone to Barnardo’s I think I’d have got my own flat. I know I’d be lonely and struggling a bit. It’s perfect for me living with Julie and Matt - it's great to know there are people I trust who I can talk to and get advice from. I’m really happy there."

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*Names have been changed and models have been used in order to protect identities.