Paige Floyd, from Antrim, started life in care until she was adopted as a toddler. But those three years left an impact. She struggled with her behaviour, and when her adopted mum Rosemary was diagnosed with cancer, Paige found it hard to cope.
But, thanks to National Lottery players, Oasis Caring in Action were on hand to help. With the support of £600,000 of National Lottery funding, their Antrim Youthways project provides an alternative education programme for young people aged 12-19 who are facing all sorts of issues that affect their education, from bereavement and bullying to caring responsibilities and eating disorders.
Secondary school is a difficult time for any teenager. But Paige’s history of being in care made it particularly hard for her to manage her behaviour. Then, when her beloved mum Rosemary was diagnosed with lung cancer, the pressure became too much. Paige had to return to care temporarily, and the stress and disruption had a big impact on her education.
“In secondary school, I was really troubled and quite difficult. I had bottled everything up from my past and it became too much to handle. I became angry and felt like everyone was against me. My behaviour was out of control,” Paige said.
Paige’s parents divorced some years earlier and she continued to live with her mum. When her mum was diagnosed with lung cancer, Paige was terrified she was going to lose her.
“I was trying to keep my mum happy. I was getting myself up in the mornings then helping my mum get dressed and get breakfast. Some nights I hardly slept because I was constantly worrying about her and worrying that I would have to go back into care as well, because there is only my mum and me.”
While her mum was ill, Paige did have to return to care temporarily. She was living in a foster home when her teachers advised her to go to Oasis Caring in Action. There she received the support she needed to get back on track with her education including one to one and group support.
“The first year, I had some ups and downs but the staff at Oasis saw potential in me. I decided to put my head down and work well in my classes there. I developed a bond with my key worker, Jenny and I have a lot of respect for her. I worked hard and came out with good qualifications,” Paige said.
With support from Oasis, Paige gained seven GCSE equivalents and has earned three more since. A keen footballer, she went on to study for a Sports Studies Diploma at the North Eastern Regional College in Antrim.
Rosemary’s cancer went into remission and the support they both got from Oasis helped them to build up their relationship again. Paige moved back home with renewed hope for the future. She is now training as a young leader at Oasis, helping out on the Antrim Youthways project.
Paige said: “I love working with the younger people coming through Oasis. Some of them look up to me because I have come so far. I explain to them how it was with me and they find that very inspirational. I am excited about my future for the first time, and I am so proud at this moment in my life.
“My mum is over the moon for me too. I’m learning to drive and if and when I pass my driving test I’ll be taking the Oasis staff out and treating them. I feel like they’re part of my family now.”
Thanks to the support and dedication of Oasis staff, Paige has become a successful young woman and a great example to other young people. And, thanks to National Lottery players, Oasis are able to continue their incredible work, making a real difference to young people’s lives.