A FORMER foster child with a troubled history says he stands little chance of getting his life back on track while trapped in an environment where drugs are rife..
Jonathan Seymour has been living in supported housing schemes since leaving foster care at 16. It is Croydon Council's duty to provide former foster children with varying degrees of support until they reach 21.
The 20-year-old says his experience of those homes is of being surrounded by people relapsing into the drug and alcohol abuse and violent behaviour he is trying to escape.
Jonathan, who is staying with his natural father in Old Coulsdon after leaving a home in Auckland Road, Upper Norwood, earlier this year, said: "I used to smoke cannabis which I got myself off, I'm a recovering alcoholic, trying to change my life around and asking them to help me find a one-bed studio flat.
"But they are saying they want me in shared accommodation or supported accommodation, and the reason I do not want to go into these is because there are drug users there."
The council currently has 731 care-leavers on its books, and said they are generally provided accommodation through the housing department's landlord bond scheme.
A council spokesman said he could not comment on Jonathan's case, but added that tenants with "complex needs often have difficulty managing a tenancy".
He added: "In such cases we may identify a suitable shared property that includes a degree of support. This assessment is based on individual personal needs.
"Assessments take into account recent history and behaviour, as well as a range of other needs-based factors, and the Landlord Bond Scheme will not accept a referral if there is a history of criminal damage and irresponsible behaviour."
Jonathan admits that his track record includes mental health problems, violence, and drug and alcohol abuse. He is attending treatment programmes, but fears going back into supported accommodation will push back his progress.
Speaking of one hostel into which he was placed, in Forest Hill, he said: "That place messed me up – there are 125 rooms in that place, you can find crackheads, heroin addicts, prostitutes, murderers.I saw two people who died through drug overdoses."
Jonathan, who has catering qualifications, says he wants the chance to prove he can cope in his own place.
He said: "I think I will be ok. I have grown up a lot. I am clear from drugs and have a clear mind. I am able to take care of my responsibilities."
His father, Brian Seymour, said: "The system needs to be reviewed because it is letting youngsters like my son down."