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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Fri 18-Sep-15 12:04:19

How the care system changed my life

Jenny Molloy describes how being taken into care at 9 years old was the best thing that could have happened to her, and how it's affected her life and family ever since.

Jenny Molloy

How the care system changed my life

Posted on: Fri 18-Sep-15 12:04:19


Lead photo

Jenny aged 8 or 9, and with her family today.

My name is Jenny Molloy, and I was taken into care aged 9. When I say that social workers rescued me as a child, from a life of degradation and destitution, I'm often looked at like I must be living in a paranormal world. Social workers ruin lives, right? Social workers steal children, right? Well, mostly that's wrong.

Going into care was, to me, like entering a different world. Suddenly, I didn't have to worry about violence in the house, my parents hurting themselves whilst drunk, horrible men coming and going or being hungry and dirty. I had children's home staff that cared for me in a way that I had not experienced before.

I remember the feeling of sleeping under my first duvet, and being able to choose my first brand new set of bedding. Strawberry shortcake was my favoured choice. Promises had not been kept at home so I dare not believe that I would actually get it. My happiness at receiving it was shown by me clinging to this duvet around the house for days. It was like sleeping underneath cotton wool.

It's a huge emotional struggle, knowing that your parents are hurting because someone else is caring for you, and at the same time being happy that this was the case.

Of course, life in care was not always easy. My parents struggled with the loss of us, often turning up at the children's home drunk and aggressive. It's a huge emotional struggle, knowing that your parents are hurting because someone else is caring for you, and at the same time being happy that this was the case. Your loyalty is tested. Your heart feels at times like it's going to burst.

Leaving care aged 18, pregnant with my first child, Lauren, was confusing, sad and scary. I had no idea what to do with this baby, at the same time knowing that I had to put up a pretence of coping for fear that my baby would be taken from me. It's hard that one, isn't it. You are taken into care through no fault of your own, but then seen as a risk to your own child simply through having been in care.

Doesn't make sense does it, morally or logically? I loved my baby so much it hurt. I believed that I was a terrible mum. Just because. When my second child came along, I began to think that maybe, just maybe, I could make it as a mum. But what does this mean? To me, a successful mum kept their babies safe, protected them from pain, kept them warm and nurtured their physical and mental wellbeing to within an inch of their lives ?? I can now look back and accept that I did just that.

Today, I am a successful author and consultant, working with social workers and children in care. But most importantly to me, I am a mother to two and a nanny to one. My little Lily. I can finally say that, for our little family, the generational cycle of losing your children to the care system is over.

Jenny is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller Hackney Child. Her new book Neglected is published by Simon & Schuster and is available from Amazon.

By Jenny Molloy

Twitter: @simonandschusteruk

ffinnochio Fri 18-Sep-15 14:11:23

Good for you, Jenny. smile

Iam64 Sat 19-Sep-15 09:07:48

It's good to read this Jenny, we don't often hear the positive side of the 'care system'.

Grannyknot Sat 19-Sep-15 09:58:36

Very good blog post.

I have a young friend who grew up in care who has a similar view. She is confident, successful and has no qualms about saying "Thank God we were taken into care". I shall show her this article flowers.

Luckygirl Sat 19-Sep-15 10:14:33

Good for you - time someone put across the fact that being received into care is done for the best - or the best as far as people are able to judge. It is a balancing act, a tightrope walk, and SWs will get it wrong sometimes, but it is not a decision that is taken lightly. I am so glad that it worked out well for you.

The only worrying aspect of your blog is the fact that here is so little attention given to (or resources allocated for) the post-care care. Children who are lucky enough to have loving families always have that family to turn to as they make their first steps into independence; for children in the care system things are not so good at that point - just when they really need lots of support and encouragement. I think this is one of the reasons that children brought up in care feature so disproportionately in the criminal justice system. It is so easy for young people to get tied up in drink and drugs when they are taking their first steps into the adult world, and that is when these young people need the support.

Grannyknot Sat 19-Sep-15 12:01:37

True lucky but that is where my friend (she's half my age) found me! I was happy to be a mother figure in her life. And children from stable homes get involved in drink and drugs too of course. All young people need mentors. Many of the young people who were in the care home with my friend made bad choices and all that meant to her (she told me) was a warning signal and a silent decision of strengthened resolve "That will never be me".

Luckygirl Sat 19-Sep-15 13:04:26

I believe that the age at which SSD relinquish responsibility for looked after children has recently been raised to 18, which is a good step in the right direction.

Unfortunately funding is tight, and saving a small child from an abusive home gets first dibs at available money rather than supporting a child leaving care.

mysticgran Sat 19-Sep-15 22:38:52

Good to read a positive story

Masterpiece Wed 23-Sep-15 19:10:29

I was placed into care when I was 12 years old. But unfortunately my time in care has both been a blessing and a curse. And my adult life has been a struggle at times and have had a success at raising a family as a single parent and achieved an education whilst raising a family. And at one point was a university student but forced to pull out of the course prematurely. I have worked ever since but partly due to a lack of support networks with single parenthood and a life time of mental and physical health problems,my long term prospects did not turn out quite as successful as I had intended and worked so hard to try and achieve. I now find myself alot older and wiser but with no financial security, no secure roof above my head, no prospects for the future and my health getting worse. And a feeling that in some ways I have taken 30 years worth of steps going forwards. To find myself stepping backwards again to a point where I am not alot better off than I was during my first few years out of the care system. I have never had a long term relationship and the few serious relationship I have had were abusive or violent or both. I have grandchildren whom I love dearly but my role as grandmother hasn't worked out very well either. But I constantly remind myself that there are people worse off than me and try and stay positive for the future.

annsixty Wed 23-Sep-15 19:44:38

Masterpiece my sympathy and my admiration for what your life has been so far. My own early life was difficult but a picnic compared to yours. I wish you well in your future and in your relationships with your family and personal life. Keep positive and smiling.

Masterpiece Wed 23-Sep-15 19:57:41

Hi annsixty

Thankyou so much for your kind words.Yes I will keep positive and smiling although difficult at times. But as least it is not all bad compared to some. Especially what is going on in the world today for some people recently in the news.

Luckygirl Wed 23-Sep-15 20:08:25

Yes - keep positive - it sounds as though you have managed to rise above your difficulties and make a good life - with ups and downs, just like all of us. Good on you!

thatbags Wed 23-Sep-15 20:17:17

That was a good blog to read, Jenny smile

Masterpiece Wed 23-Sep-15 20:52:43

Hi Luckygirl yes I have risen above it all to a point but at times, it feels that I can never fully escape the legacy of how my life first started out. But some how I manage to keep battling on.

annsixty Wed 23-Sep-15 21:18:57

Masterpiece have sent you a PM.

Luckygirl Wed 23-Sep-15 21:21:45

We none of us fully escape our pasts - but you have kept "battling on" - well done!