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It was the right time to foster, as told by Mandy.

Monday 04 March 2024

Mandy and her wife, Netty had always wanted children but, sadly, things didn’t work out as they’d planned.

Now in her mid 60s and a widow, Mandy has never lost the desire to nurture and care for children and in October 2021, she applied to become a foster carer with Brighter Futures. The timing just felt right, as Mandy explained:

“After my wife died, I put my energies into work but also had some wonderful travels abroad and went to many countries that we had intended to go to.  Then, around three years ago, I thought ‘I’ve got space in my life and in my home, I could support a young person to have a better life and get ready to go out into the world’. Fostering seemed like a good option but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it. I approached Brighter Futures to enquire and they said it would be fine. By then, the time just felt right for me to foster. You learn to live with the grief of losing someone close to you and I was in a place where I felt OK. I was still working 30 hours a week, but flexibly from home, so I applied to foster over 11s so that I could fit around school and college hours.”

A well-planned introduction

Mandy was approved in March 2022. She began with a short-term placement and respite fostering before meeting her current young person in January 2023. Mandy said:

“She was 16 when she came to me. We were able to meet for coffee and then she came over for dinner and we chatted for a couple of hours. She was able to look around the house and the room that would be hers. It was a really well-planned introduction. She was able to meet me and make the decision for herself that she was happy to come to live with me. It gave her a sense of control and that felt so important.”

A safe space

The first few months were challenging at times for both of them, but by the summer things were starting to turn around. Mandy’s dog, Frida, was pivotal in helping them move forward.

“They are total besties,” said Mandy. “They play with the ball together, running around like crazy and hugging a lot of the time. She cares for her brilliantly. Sometimes if I haven’t seen her for a few hours, I’ll text her to ask if she’s OK and discover that she’s been creating amazing artwork on her own in a peaceful space.”

Positive lifestyle change

Becoming a foster carer has been a complete lifestyle change for Mandy, who previously travelled a lot and had an active social life, but it is one that she has gladly embraced.

“It is a positive choice – the realisation of a lifelong dream. We are currently in discussions about what will happen post-18. My young person would like to stay here and I would like to continue to support her. My role will change, as I will no longer be her foster carer, but we are looking at that and how it might work.”


Mandy believes that having so much personal experience of grief and loss helps her to have empathy with the young people in her care.

“Most of them have lost such a lot and they are likely to be lost for a long time. Having been through that myself, I understand the process and that you can gain other things from that loss. I also recognise that they have a lot to teach me and not just the other way around. Their world, the technology, the pressures they face… it’s very different from the world I grew up in.”

LGBT+ advocate

A keen advocate for more LGBT+ foster carers, Mandy is open about her sexual orientation. She believes that young people will ask questions when they are ready to ask them and says that there are no taboos within her house:

“The first young person I cared for was exploring their sexual orientation. It felt very appropriate for her to be looked after by me. There are pictures of my wife around the house and I do get asked all sorts of questions. And that’s fine. I have a history and I want them to know who I am.”

Mandy is full of praise for the support she receives from her fostering agency, particularly its out of hours service. She said:

“It is good to be able to call them and receive reassurance or guidance whenever I need it. They’ve just been rated Outstanding by Ofsted. The Registered Manager is hands-on and very supportive and affirming of us foster carers. I’ve been on a Bridge to Foster package, and this includes therapeutic support for myself and my young person.”

Small things are rewarding

Reflecting on her first two years as a foster carer, Mandy said:

“Have an open mind, listen and pick your battles. I’ve found it’s particularly helpful to have a good knowledge of attachment and spectrum disorders and to understand about therapeutic parenting. To would-be foster carers I would say, if you have space in your home and your life then consider giving a home to a young person who needs it. It would be great if there were more LGBT+ and older foster carers. It’s sometimes the smallest things that are the most rewarding about fostering. Yesterday my young person put an icon of a heart on the end of a text message for the first time. It just made me melt.”

If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible, try our Can I Foster? tool, which answers common questions about suitability to foster, based on a personalised Q and A style format. The outcome might surprise you! If you’re ready to chat with one of our fostering advisors, contact your local team.

Find out if you could be a foster carer
Find out if you could be a foster carer
In a few simple questions, you’ll know if you’re suitable to apply to become a foster carer.