Eventually, in year ten, I decided enough was enough. I had constantly told teachers about what was happening, asked to move schools, asked to even move classes, but to no avail. Eventually I took matters into my own hands, and wrote a letter to the head teacher of Cotham secondary school; asking to join the school, explaining why I wanted to leave my old school and what I felt I would bring to Cotham. A few days later I received a phone call from the headmaster himself – asking me to come in for a meeting to discuss my transfer. That day I left Portway, and never, ever went back.
I’d love to say that after I moved schools I made a million friends, felt completely better about myself and went on to start my own business and employ my bullies as cleaners (maybe one day..) But the reality is that while I was definitely a lot happier not being bullied every day, and feeling safe to walk down the corridors and eat my lunch outside, the scars which had been left on me emotionally came with me. Although people in my new school were generally a lot more accepting, welcoming and friendly, there was still the fear in the back of my mind that they all secretly hated me, laughed about me when I wasn’t there, thought I was stupid and the list went on. It was like I wasn’t going to allow myself to be happy, to have friends and accept that people liked me. I had moved to a better place, but I was carrying all this sadness and distrust with me, which made it difficult to enjoy anything there.
I also stopped being involved with the youth parliament when I moved schools; none of the students knew me so I found it hard to gain votes. Ironic really, the school where I was ostracized got me elected but in the supportive school I was merely another voice in the crowd. I definitely preferred it that way though, feeling it was better to be invisible than stand out for the wrong reasons. So I kept my head down and tried my best to just get on with it and get through school.
However, once I’d moved from Portway, school was really the least of my worries. Over the past few years my Mum had begun to be ill more and more, going from having the odd day where she needed to lie in bed, to not being able to get up for much more than to struggle to her arm chair, and go to the bathroom most days. When I was about sixteen she was diagnosed as having early onset Parkinson’s Disease. At the time I had no clue what that meant, just that I had to help her get dressed, do all of the cooking, washing, shopping and general running of the household. Luckily from my time with UKYP I had some knowledge of government systems and organisations, and also knew people who could help me, especially with things like filling in disability benefit forms and other suck complicated paperwork. After a while, Mum was in and out of hospital, and I was pretty much looking after my younger brother when he wasn’t at his Dad’s or elsewhere. When I was just 16 I moved out of home, due to a lot of fighting between us, and the fact we only had two bedrooms, and into youth housing. I lived away from home for six months, and it was horrible, but eventually being so far away from sixth form and my Mum made me move back to the flat to look after her properly again.
To say that all of this had an effect on my education was an understatement, I ended up dropping to just two A Levels, achieving Cs in both though I know I could have done so much better. I had applied to University, and was all set to go to Birmingham City, but I didn’t get the grades I needed, so I went into clearing. After a long discussion in which my Mum urged me to move away, even though I worried about her, I applied to study Creative Writing at the University of Greenwich. I was accepted, and in September 2010 I packed up all my things and moved to London.