“As foster carers, we have looked after about 60 children in just over 15 years. We have fostered children of various ages from different backgrounds, and each with different outcomes. From new born babies until they are adopted, and from adolescent to leaving the care system at 18! We have looked after asylum seekers, and worked on the bridge 2 foster scheme.
Our very first boy we looked after was a 13-year-old who was in police custody; they needed a foster placement for him and we said yes. Our birth children were only 5 and 7 years old and we had a 13-year-old who enjoyed fighting and being arrested. It was clear from the outset this would be a challenge, but we saw a young man who clearly needed a loving and stable home. The last thing he needed was another rejection.
So, we kept him with us though being arrested nearly every week, going to court every week, fights and then finally being excluded from school. Everyone had given up on him and no help or additional educational support was offered from the system. At this point we were near wits end and not sure what to do with him to keep him out of trouble. Elliott had a great idea – pull down the wooden fence in the back garden and work on building a new one with him. We asked this young man to help calculate the number of bricks and cement we would need to build a brick wall, and together we worked it out. We ordered the materials and once delivered he cracked on and with a small hand from Elliott, he build the brick wall. Afterwards, he came to us and explained that he thought raised flower beds would look nice, and asked us to order more bricks. We did, and he built this as well. He showed brilliant aptitude for building so we encouraged this as much as possible, finding tasks around the house.
When the time came to leave, he was only 16 years old, but this was how the local authority worked back then. We explained that we would always be there for him, and promised to support him as best we could. We kept our promise, and helped him move in to his new flat and cover rent when he needed a hand. This young man was very much part of our family. He came to us a few years later and said he wanted to start a construction company of his own. The company has gone on to be very successful and he continues to run it now.
The highlight for us came last year, when we sat at the top table at his wedding. We also have a grandchild with him and we consider ourselves privileged to be a part of her life. We are an extended family in maybe a slightly different way, but we are very proud of it.
We are lucky to have stayed in touch with a few of the young people we have looked after over the years and feel like we have a great relationship with them. We still absolutely love what we do, and feel it has made our lives richer over the years, having a small part to play in someone’s life who needs somewhere to call home for a little while.” – Jo