My ma’s mental health was very bad. There were days when we went to school and had no food to come home to. My sister Ciara was 17, doing her leaving cert and in a full time job. But she looked after us. Ciara and her fiancé Peter were like our Mam and Dad. They always helped us with our homework and made sure we were fed. We lived with my Dad for a while. There were eight of us in a two bedroom flat. But living with my Dad was terrifying. I didn’t feel safe. One night there was an argument. I was so scared. I ended up walking in my bare feet from town back to my Ma’s. The next day the Guards came and I was put into the back of a social worker’s car. It was very scary.
Jasmine was just eleven years old when she was first taken into State Care. And she has been in and out of foster homes and residential care ever since.
I was in about five different foster homes and six or seven secondary schools. There were some foster homes which didn’t work out and others where it worked really well. My last foster home was great. I even called my foster mother ‘Ma’.
But the trauma of Jasmine’s childhood eventually began to take its toll.
I was so angry with the world. I couldn’t talk to anyone. I found it very hard to build a relationship. Still, to this day, I found it hard because all the big people in my life have left. I felt like ‘I’m nothing’. I got so low. I self-harmed and suffered from depression and bulimia. I lost a lot of weight. At one stage, when I was 16, I was only six stone.
When Jasmine met her after care worker Lynn she began to turn her life around. But, on the day she turned 18, Jasmine was forced to leave residential care and fend for herself for the first time. That’s when she linked in with Focus Ireland’s Youth Aftercare programme – and, in particular, her key worker Janice.
Janice is amazing. I’m three years with Focus Ireland now and Janice has been like a sister to me. She plays a big part in my life. So does Lynn. They are my safety net. Without them and Focus Ireland I’d be on the streets. Thanks to the ongoing support of Focus Ireland – and her key worker – Jasmine finally has the support that she will need to face the long and often difficult road to the independent life she dreams of. I know my future is going to be great. I have that sense. Homelessness is still a fear. I still feel I have no stability in my life. But I’m just trying to be positive. My wish is to get my ‘’forever home’ and to someday have the stability to have a family of my own. And I’ll be the happiest woman on earth.