Ryan Aves reckons he ‘hit the jackpot’ when he walked through the door of Ana and Haydn Price.
“They’re the best thing that could have happened to me,” said the 18-year-old who was placed into care at the age of 10 along with his younger brother when they both needed a foster home.
The pair arrived at the Prices’ home in Hucclecote via a placement with Community Foster Care.
“I’d had two foster homes in six months. Then one day my social worker picked me up from school and said I was going to a new placement. It was scary and the nerves kicked in – I was afraid of everything,” said Ryan, now 6ft 4in tall and a towering version of his 10-year-old self.
“I wasn’t very well-behaved, especially in supermarkets. I had eczema. I didn’t wash. I got bullied at school. All I wanted to eat was chips and takeaways.
“I was afraid of the dark, of falling down the stairs, of falling up the stairs. I followed Haydn everywhere because I thought he might leave me. I used to wander around the house at night, just worried.
“After about five weeks I began to sleep properly and woke up one morning thinking ‘I could get used to this’.
“I started to try different foods and took small steps every day. It got better and better.
“Now I think my life here has been absolutely fantastic – I got very lucky.
“I’ve been looked after by nice carers – they are the best ever. I’m not saying that I don’t love my mum, but after eight years with Haydn and Ana, they are the best thing that happened to me.”
When Ryan’s 18th birthday came along in November 2016, and after much discussion with Haydn, Ana and Community Foster Care, he opted to stay with the Prices on the Staying Put scheme which enables cared-for children to remain with their long-term carers on an independent living basis.
Now he is studying for GCSEs at Gloucestershire College. He gets up at 6am each day to muck out the family horse Henry, before cycling from Hucclecote to Cheltenham and back.
He has no doubt that fostering transformed his life. Not only is he settled and happy, he has a wide support network made up of Ana and Haydn’s relatives, the team at Community Foster Care, and friends made at CFC’s regular social events for foster families and children. He sits on CFC’s Student Forum which acts as a sounding board for cared-for children.
“From the moment I came into care, I’ve had the best two people in the world to look after me. I’ve been able to do anything - climb trees, go cycling, running, playing golf.
“I’ve had my ups and downs, but these two have turned me round and put me on the right road.”
His message to other children who face the fears that entering the care system inevitably bring is simple: “Don’t be nervous. Relax. You will be loved. You will be happy.”
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