Jasmine Taylor can’t remember going shopping with her parents, having a family meal at a restaurant, or taking in a film at the cinema... it just didn’t happen.
For her life was parents with serious crack and heroin addiction. Her dad was in and out of prison. He died of liver failure aged 41.
We’d like to tell you Jasmine is some kind of superhero, immune to what was going on, and that she managed to come through unscathed.
But real life isn’t like that.
“I’d see marks on their arms where they’d injected and I saw needles around the house,” she said.
“I had rows with them over it. But when someone is an addict their main concern is that drug. Everything else, like their children, comes second.
“I never have and never will have a mother-daughter bond like other families seem to. I often look at other people and wish I had that.
“When someone says ‘I’m going to the cinema with my mum’, I just feel empty because I never had that. We weren’t like a normal family.
“I’d just see mum and dad off their heads.”
Not surprisingly Jasmine started to go off the rails herself.
She got in with the wrong crowd.
“I started hanging around with a bunch of lads and not going home,” she said.
“No one was there to tell me I couldn’t do that, and there were times when I didn’t want to go home.
“We used to do stupid things like nick milk off doorsteps at 3am or pinch magazines from garages. I started drinking and being a nuisance.
“But it was an escape I think, especially when dad got poorly with pneumonia.
“I was 14. He suffered from depression and he caught a bug at the hospital so he refused to go back in. He was scared, jobless, and so he turned to alcohol and I watched him become an alcoholic.
“A year later he fell poorly with liver failure. He was only 41 when he died. I was there because I was his daughter and I needed to be there for him.”
What undoubtedly saved Jasmine from a life every bit as heartbreakingly sad as her dad’s is Blackpool Boys and Girls Youth Club.
She went to the club’s Layton base at the age of seven. “They have supported me through so many things, though they didn’t really know what was going on in my life until I was about 13 because I was ashamed I didn’t discuss things,” she said.
“When I was homeless at the age of 16 the club found me somewhere to stay so I didn’t have to sleep on the streets. Without them... well I don’t know where I’d be now.”
And here is the best part.
Jasmine, with help from those at Blackpool Boys and Girls Club, and through her own remarkable determination to make sure she doesn’t follow in the footsteps of her parents, has turned her life around.
She has a sports leadership certificate, was awarded Boys and Girls Club Member of the Year in the Lancashire region, completed a Health and Social Care course at Blackpool and The Fylde College (where she won a nursing award), and has just started her first full-time job at Blackpool Tower.
She also volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club, “just to give a little back”.
“My younger days are a bit of a blur now,” she added. “When I look back it wasn’t bad in the sense that we didn’t lack food or money. We didn’t sit in the dark or anything. My sisters and I just lacked love and affection from our parents, but the drugs did that to them.
“My mum is still a user, not of heroin, just crack. I do love her. She’s my mum.
“But what it has resulted in – and this is one good thing that came out of it – is that I don’t touch drugs and I don’t really drink because I know what it does to people’s lives. I know what happens if you do.
“What I went through has also given me the ambition and the courage to be who I want to be.
“I always think if I ever have children, I’d give them what I didn’t have – love.”
Jasmine says she is proud to be from Blackpool, proud to be who she is, but feels it is important there is help at hand for the many young people who do have difficult upbringings.
“It is sometimes hard being young in certain areas of town because it is easy to fall in the wrong crowd, especially when you have certain things going on at home,” she added.
“I think disadvantaged young people like myself should have the support there and the best place for me was the youth club where people don’t judge you, they just support you.
“Will I leave Blackpool? I don’t think so. I don’t blame the town for my problems.
“I’m a Blackpool girl and I’m not ashamed of where I come from.
“I’m proud to be from the town.
“It’s up to the people of the town how they turn out and if they don’t want to make something of themselves then they are going to be the ones going to the JobCentre every three weeks.”
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