Inspiring foster carer switched careers to give young people a chance

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Working 24-hours a day, seven-days a week might not seem like a dream job to some.

After being made redundant, Giles Kempsell decided to pursue a new line of work by becoming a carer with Fostering Relations.

But looking back at his six years in the role, Giles Kempsell admits that becoming a foster carer was the best decision he ever made.

After being made redundant from his position as a countryside ranger at the end of December 2009, Giles was looking for a change of career. And it was then that he and his wife Anita started to discuss opening up their home to children in need.

Giles, who lives in Kinross, said: “We [myself and my wife] had been talking about becoming foster carers for a while and then I was made redundant from my job. So, I was looking to make a career change, and it seemed like the ideal opportunity to do it.

“We did our research and it soon became obvious that I could do it as a full-time career.”

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He added: “It was then about six months before we started fostering. The application process was quite in depth and quite intensive – we were meeting with the social worker once a week for a couple of hours to talk about us, our background, our expectations and our own childhoods.

“But it was a good experience.”

Giles, who is the primary carer in the home, decided to foster through Fostering Relations, a small, not-for-profit agency that works in partnership with local authorities.

As an agency specialising in long-term placements, Giles has cared for a teenager for the last six years and another younger boy for two and a half.

The 44-year-old explained: “With Fostering Relations there doesn’t tend to be a very high turnover. They like to focus on long-term and permanent fostering, so the idea is that the young people will be with you until they are ready to move on, giving them more security.

“The kids come to us and ideally they are with us until either they go home to their family or get to that natural stage in life when they are ready to leave.

“It’s not like having your own children because of the things they have experience. But we try to recreate that type of environment – it’s what they call a ’52-week service’.”

Due to their size, Fostering Relations have a family feel and provide on-going support to carers to ensure successful placements – something Giles says is crucial to ensuring a happy home life for the children he cares for.

He said: “We are really lucky because I have my supervising social worker’s mobile phone number and I can ring her anytime.

“There’s always someone there you can talk to if you’re having a problem or if you’ve got an emergency – there’s someone there on the end of the phone. I know that’s not the case with all fostering agencies.

“And you’re speaking to someone who knows you. With some agencies you can ring an emergency on-call number and get a social worker who will look up your case file. Whereas with Fostering Relations, it’s only a team of five or six social workers, so we all know each other quite well.

“It’s very much more of a personal approach.”

He added: “It can be quite an intense job sometimes, because you obviously have the kids 24-hours a day, seven days a week – which is different to a lot of jobs.

“But it brings its own rewards with it, and if you are interested in working intensively with young people it’s a great career.”