Care abuse survivor says Street Soccer scheme turned her life around

A CARE abuse survivor whose traumatic childhood experience brought her to the brink of suicide has spoken out about how her passion for football helped turn her life around.

Carol suffered an abusive childhood and says football helped change her life for the better. Picture: Jon Savage

Taken into care at just two years of age, Carol suffered physical and mental abuse, bullying as well as neglect for more than a decade.

Describing herself as a “very broken person”, Carol still suffers hearing difficulties after having objects forced into her ear when she was a child. She was 50 when she was put in touch with care support organisation Future Pathways, which she credits with giving her life meaning again.

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“I don’t think I would be alive today if it was not for Future Pathways,” she said.

The organisation, which is funded by the Scottish Government and gives personalised support to survivors of in-care abuse and neglect, helped Carol realise a life-long dream of playing football. She explained: “When I was young I always enjoyed football, but due to my circumstances this was something I could not take part in.

“After my increase in self-confidence I decided to link in with another charity called Carr Gomm, who sent me on a football course, teaching me skills and team work. I gained more confidence, made friends and it put a smile on my face.

“They then referred me to Street Soccer, who are now like a family to me.

“When I’m there I feel alive and always forget about negative things that have happened to me. This gave me something to get up for again.”

Carol now plays regularly with Street Soccer and is planning to train as a coach for the organisation. She credits the lifeline with helping set her on the path to a brighter future.

Carol’s new lease of life started after Future Pathways arranged support from Health in Mind – a charity promoting positive mental health and wellbeing – and then a professional psychologist. She said she couldn’t fully express the impact the sessions had on her life.

“I felt for the first time in my life safe and listened to,” she said. “I felt there was meaning to life and like I was starting life for the first time.”

Flora Henderson, alliance manager for Future Pathways, urged other survivors to get in touch. She said: “I am so pleased that Carol has been able to access support that has really worked. She has achieved so much in a short period of time and it’s been an inspiration and a privilege to work with her.

“Although over 700 survivors have already registered with us, we know there are many, many more people out there who have had similar experiences and who could really benefit from our help and support.

“Please get in touch if you feel that we can help you or someone you know.”