In the second part of The Lost Generation STEVE CANAVAN talks to a brave teenager who is battling back from a difficult start to her life.
Paige Taylor talks with such brightness and optimism it’s almost hard to believe the story she has to tell.
She had a mum with a heroin addiction, was bullied at school and an existence that would have been too much for many to deal with.
Let’s start with the good news then.
This remarkable 18-year-old has completed a Painting and Decorating course, is one of the stars of the Prince’s Trust scheme, and has just started a traineeship in catering at Pizza Hut.
It is one in the eye for anyone who has ever done her wrong, and plenty have.
Paige was bullied throughout school and left hospitalised after one attack in Mereside.
“I was bullied pretty much every single day,” said Paige. “It started in primary school when I got bullied by one girl, and it carried on at high school within a couple of weeks of starting.”
Eventually, terrified, she stopped going to school.
Paige’s mum was a heroin addict. “I think that was one reason for the bullying,” she said.
She paints a harrowing picture of her childhood life at home.
“It was quite hard having a mum with those problems. It was hard going to school and getting bullied and then going home to even more hell to be honest,” she said.
“I didn’t see anything, but I just knew what was happening. My mum never lied to me about not taking it.
“My home life wasn’t very good at that time. I had food and stuff but all the electrical equipment we had got sold to pay for the drugs.
“I had a laptop, a pair of GHD hair straighteners that cost me £155, and my little brother had a Nintendo Wii.
“That all got sold. My mum and her boyfriend – who was also an addict – used to take it when they had no money to fund their habit.
“I’ve got my great nan and she is there for me a lot. I used to go there and talk to her about things. I used to try and hide how I was feeling because I didn’t want anyone to know my mum was on drugs – to me it was embarrassing.”
Paige used to drink bottles of Scrumpy Jack cider with her friends to take her mind off things.
Thankfully her mum eventually saw the light.
“My mum is single now. She isn’t with her boyfriend any more, he was the problem I think,” she said.
“My mum went to Drugline to do it for herself.”
After leaving school with nothing, Paige realised she had to get qualifications to get a job and enrolled at Blackpool and The Fylde College to begin courses.
“Before I was just sitting down and watching Jeremy Kyle every day,” she explained. “I just wanted to get up and do something and make friends because I don’t really have any friends.
“Now I look back and I’m older I’m pretty proud of the way I handled it all,” she said.
“I feel good about myself now. It used to be I didn’t think I could do anything because of my past but now I’ve done courses and the Prince’s Trust, it has given me a lot of confidence.
“It makes me want to go out and be a better person than my mum was.
“I love my mum. It was a hard time back then. I can learn from her mistakes.”
Paige lives at Blackpool Foyer in the town centre. She thinks she will move away from the resort at some point.
“I just don’t think it is a good place to grow up because of all the druggies,” she said.
“I don’t take drugs. That would definitely not be my life option, ever, because I’ve seen the damage that can do.
“But near the place where I live – Central Drive – it’s just full of them and when I see druggies on the street it is a constant reminder of when my mum used to be a druggie.
“I just don’t think it is a nice place and if I ever have a kid, I wouldn’t want to bring it up round here.”
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