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Yarmouth orphan's story of hope

PUBLISHED: 09:26 08 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:35 30 June 2010

At just eight years old, Stevie McNeilly faced a future with no parents.

Her mother died when she was young and her father passed away a few years later, leaving Stevie an orphan under the wing of social services.

At just eight years old, Stevie McNeilly faced a future with no parents.

Her mother died when she was young and her father passed away a few years later, leaving Stevie an orphan under the wing of social services.

Thanks to a host of positive foster placements, though, her story is one of hope.

Now aged 17, Stevie is living with her stepsister in Great Yarmouth and studying for an NVQ2 in hairdressing at Great Yarmouth College.

The teenager, who came from Yarmouth, said: “My mum passed away when I was very young. My dad got ill and was no longer able to look after me, so I was put in a foster placement at six.

“I was in that placement for 10 days, then went back to my dad. I was at home for about another year. Then I was put in another placement for three months, followed by another placement. While I was there, when I was eight, my dad passed away.”

The rapid movement from placement to placement stopped on her 9th birthday, when Stevie went to live with foster carers at Buxton, where she remained for six years.

She said: “It was really good there and I even changed my surname to be the same as my foster carers. Being there gave me a chance to grow up.”

Eventually, Stevie decided to move back to Yarmouth to be near to her stepbrother and stepsisters.

She said: “I moved into a foster placement at Ormesby. Me and my carer just clicked and got on really well. A few months later I decided to move out. I was 16 and thought I knew everything, and wanted to live on my own.

“I went to a hostel in North Walsham, but moved out within three months and moved into a B and B in Great Yarmouth. That didn't go too well either, so I got another foster placement in North Walsham. I was there for three weeks before the bedroom at Ormesby became available again and I moved back there.

“I was there for a year. During that year I started my college course. I was happy, but I was staying at my stepsister's more than at my placement. So I moved in with her. But my carer and I still talk to each other a lot.”

Stevie said: “I was quite a naughty kid, but my foster carers really cared about me. Fostering helped me so much. If I had stayed in Yarmouth I would've been in a lot more trouble.”

t For further information about becoming a foster carer, call 0800 005007 or email fostering@norfolk.gov.uk.

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