I am Jessica and I am 10 years old. This is my story which I now feel safe enough to share thanks to the team at Spotlight, social services and my new parents.
I lived with my mum and Dad, my younger brother who is 6.
Life at home for as long as I can remember was filled with arguments, doors being slammed, lots of shouting and swearing, lots of strangers coming to our house, loud music and parties.
All my parents used to worry about was us keeping quiet to the outside world and pretending everything was fine. But everything was not fine.
My parents would sleep most of the day and party at night. I now know this was because they would spend their time recovering from drink and drugs.
From a very young age I knew that my mum and dad were taking drugs because I’d learnt about them at school but I was ashamed and didnt tell anyone. I was worried about being picked on or told off or accused of lying and trying to cause trouble.
We were not allowed in the lounge and had to spend our spare time in our bedrooms or in kitchen. I remember one day, when I was about 8 years old a friend of my parents came round and I went downstairs and the lounge door was opening a little bit and I saw the drugs laid out on the table and I realised what they were and what they were doing. My mum caught me looking and she shouted at me and smacked me and sent me to my room and told me to go to bed. I just cried myself to sleep.
My brother and I would share a bedroom and each night we would put a snooker cue up to the door just in case one of my parents friends came upstairs as we would be very scared because there would be a lot of shouting and swearing and arguments from downstairs and sometimes it sounded like people would be very angry.
I had to feed myself and my brother however we did not have much money and most of the time there was only mouldy food left to eat.
Living with my mum and dad was horrible. My parents used to get very angry. They would argue a lot.
My dad would get very angry at me especially if he didn’t have any drugs and would shout at me and he was very scary. Sometimes he would get so angry that he would hit me.
Each day I would have to get myself and my brother ready for school as my parents would often oversleep and I would have walk my brother to school.
Then last year things came to a head. My dad overslept again and I accidentally woke him up by being too loud and he went mad. He was shouting and was so angry and he started to throw things and suddenly I felt a pain in my head as something hit me on the head. I grabbed my brother and we ran out of the house. I was sad in some ways but my dad didnt follow us to see if I was ok.
We got to school and I was taken to the school office and my teacher came to speak to me. She made some calls and I got to speak to a really nice social worker who was really kind. She arranged for me and my brother to stay with a lovely family.
My social worker arranged for me to talk to a youth mentor from Spotlight UK. I felt so relaxed talking to them, they were so kind, understanding, funny. I have been able to talk to them about everything that I had bottled up. They have helped me cry, laugh and I now know it was not my fault.
After a few months, social workers decided it was not safe me and my brother to return home. They let us stay with an amazing family who treat us like we are part of their family. The team at Spotlight have helped me so much and worked with me and supported me through the whole time. I was given someone to talk to, I was given free space in holiday club and dance classes where I was able to make new friends but also meet other children who have experienced similiar to me. Spotlight UK treated me and some other children to go on a fun trip to Avon Tyrrell outdoor centre which was excellent.
Thank you to everyone at Spotlight. You helped me to laugh and smile and feel safe.