Callum reflects on his childhood growing up in care, his experience of homelessness and how he has been supported by Depaul UK to pursue his dreams of becoming a firefighter.

“I grew up in care since the age of six. I was moved about here, there, and everywhere. I was with different foster carers, and different schools. It was very stressful, and very disruptive as a young child.

“What I think is hard is that as soon as you are 18, you are dropped from care like a sack of potatoes. I got my own flat through social services and a labouring job, but I couldn’t pay the rent. That’s when the homelessness started.

“It was then my social worker put me in touch with Depaul UK, who got me somewhere to stay with a Nightstop host. They are volunteers who put you up in their own homes.

“I had one Nightstop host called Helen and I stayed with her for a few weeks. She was amazing. She made it dead homely, and she’d have food on the table. When you’re going through a tough time, it makes a real difference. I always used to say to her: ‘When I become a firefighter, I’ll come back knocking on your door with my uniform on.’ And she said: ‘Make sure you do!’

“After Nightstop, Depaul UK found me a flat in Oldham. Marion, my Depaul UK support worker, she was a star. She would come to my flat and see how things were going and what we could improve on. Before, when I got bills through the door, I used to let them get behind, but Marion helped with all that and helped us get it sorted.

“At the time, I was waiting for my application with the fire service. I started off as a volunteer doing events and going round fitting smoke alarms in people’s houses. Now I’m part of the training team in this massive training centre. I’ve been here just over three years, but my end goal is to become a firefighter.

Callum at fire station with fire engines

“To start my firefighter training I need to pass Maths and English tests. Obviously with my upbringing I missed a lot of school, so I probably need to go to night school to improve enough to pass the tests. I’ve got lots of different driving certificates since I’ve been in the role, and I’m getting my HGV soon. They’re all transferable qualifications too. I’m very determined. I’ve always been like that.

“Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve always been keen on helping people. I wanted to be a paramedic or a firefighter. Finally, I am getting there.”

At Depaul UK, every young person we see is unique and so is the package of support we offer them. We listen carefully to their story, build their trust, and help them make a plan to move forward. Then we’ll support and guide them every step of the way.

With your support, we can be there for every young person who needs us, helping them put homelessness behind them and start a new chapter in their lives.

Find out how you can help vulnerable young people like Callum to rewrite their futures.

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