My name is Matthew* and I’m 13. I live with foster carers now, and they’re nice. I ended up in care when I was little because my parents abused me, but I still have to see them. I try not to make a fuss about that because the social workers say it’s important for me to have a relationship with my mum and dad, but I feel very uncomfortable during contact and more than anything, I wish someone would make it stop.

But nobody listens.

Nobody except my grandma.

My grandma is a very good person. Sometimes she says things that surprise me, but I know she loves me and I love her, too. She stands up for me. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.

My life is really restrictive. I can’t cycle around my neighbourhood because my family complained about cuts and bruises they’ve seen on me in the past. I tried to tell them I got them from doing regular activities like the kind boys do, but they wouldn’t listen. So now, I can’t cycle with my friends and because of another incident, I can’t socialise freely either. I’m so angry. I just want to be able to live my life.

But nobody listens.

Nobody except my grandma.

I want to see more of my grandma. But the social workers won’t let me. they’ve accused her of being addicted to drugs and alcohol, but she isn’t and all the tests they made her do came back negative. They say she’s harming me with the things she tells me, that she complains about the care system to me and tells me bad things about the people who work in it, but she isn’t. And sometimes, when she says things that are a bit awkward, I just brush it off. I don’t mind the things she says at all, it doesn’t affect me. She lets me speak my mind and stops when I ask her to. The real reason the social workers won’t let me have more contact is that they’re frightened of my grandma. They keep threatening to reduce contact if she carries on with her charity work which involves helping children in care have a voice. I don’t see how that comes into my contact with her. The social workers say she’s being vocal about my case and putting me at risk, but she isn’t – she’s just trying to get people to hear me.

But nobody listens.

Nobody except my grandma.

I’d like to spend time with my grandma without it being supervised. When we’re together, there’s a whole list of things we’re not allowed to do, which are supposed to be for my own good. The social worker told my grandma that boys my age don’t want affection, that we’re too old for it, but we’re not. We all need affection, at 1, 11 and 101.

I miss my grandma and the love she gives me so much. I got to live with her for a while. But the social workers took me away. On the day I went into care, I put stones under her car tyres so she wouldn’t leave me on my own.

The social workers are always criticising my grandma. It’s like they’ve got it in for her because she’s complained on my behalf about the way I’m being treated. It seems so childish – like a tit for tat. I feel like the adult, and the social workers just behave like squabbling children. It’s really depressing. The list of things my grandma can’t do or bring during contact is depressing too. These include:

  • No chocolates or crisps at contact unless permissions is given (what do they think I’m going to do, contract diabetes in an hour?)
  • No comments about wanting unsupervised contact or contact which occurs outside of the god forsaken contact centre (hardly quality contact)
  • No whispering during the contact session
  • No spontaneous kissing or hugging by my grandma

I’ve written a statement for my next court date. I would like to stop having to tell a million different people what my wishes and feelings are all the time. It would be fine, except

Nobody listens.

Nobody except my grandma.

I would like to be able to live my life, and although I’ve agreed to contact with my parents, I really don’t want to see them. I find it deeply upsetting – I feel like social services are abusing me. After years of being abused by my parents, now it’s the social worker’s turn. What’s wrong with everyone?

In my statement, I ask people to listen to me.

Will somebody listen?

* Name changed to protect this boy’s privacy

Stones

 

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