A Journey of Self-Discovery at Headway

As part of Pride Month for June, Headway Adolescent Services along with other residential children’s homes within Polaris, celebrated this year’s theme ‘This is Me’ - focusing on empowerment and allowing young people to be their true authentic selves.

D, one of our Headway Care Leavers, has shared his heart-warming experience of how he was able to explore his identity and how the team at High Anchorage home supported him so proactively and positively during his 5 years in placement.

Polaris Pride

“I was 13 when I moved to High Anchorage. I knew I was different to the other young people and I had a real interest in wearing different sorts of clothes and wanted to explore what wearing makeup would be like.”

From the outset, the staff team were incredibly supportive of D wanting to discover and experiment with different parts of his identity. They researched various local clubs and groups that might interest D and help him to express himself, including theatre and dance.

Staff and other young people in the home embraced the opportunity to be part of D’s journey and encouraged dressing up, karaoke nights, catwalks around the home and even arranging an outing to Pride Festival in Weston and RuPaul’s Drag Race in Bristol – something which D has been really inspired to get involved with.

He expressed: “With Drag, the different makeup I wear can be reflective of my mood and emotions, and has the ability to tell a story to others about who I really am. Another young person at High Anchorage was really supportive and lent me some of her makeup which enabled me to start practising!”

Maria, Residential Support Worker at High Anchorage home, said: “As a previous Drama Teacher, I felt I was able to build a great bond with D and share that love and passion for theatricals. I have lots of props and costumes from my previous job, and we had great fun putting them to good use and putting on shows for others in the home.”

Over the years, staff have really helped D to feel more confident and comfortable in who he truly is. He has benefited from a great support structure within the home, and has always felt listened to, stating: “It’s really important that people are happy with who they are. To people who are looking after young people wanting to explore their identity, I’d tell them to listen, help, support and encourage – just like staff at Headway have done for me.”

Fran, Operations Manager at Headway Adolescent Services, said: “With any child we look after, we want them to be happy and content within themselves. Looking after young people from different backgrounds, cultures and sexualities, we want to be able to support everyone and foster an open culture as a whole team. It is important that the home is like a family, and everyone understands each other.”

D’s journey has also been a fantastic opportunity to educate younger children in the home, and create a wider understanding of how individual and unique we all are.

With D reaching the age of 18 and moving on from Headway to independent living, it has been a great time during Pride Month for him, his peers and the staff team to reflect on this wonderful journey. Acknowledging D’s love for RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, staff from High Anchorage home managed to get a special cameo video leaving message from Danny Beard, winner of Series 4!

“I was so shocked and didn’t really believe it was him! It made me really happy and meant the world to me during an emotional time, leaving High Anchorage home.”

Staff at High Anchorage are extremely proud of D for the journey he has embarked on to discover his true self, and are very humbled to have been part of that journey - supporting him along the way, creating a safe and trusting environment, and allowing him to feel seen and heard.

We wish D the best of luck for the future and we are looking forward to catching up with him soon!