A Decade of Foster Caring: A Chat with Gaynor
At Pathway Care, we consider all of our foster carers to be a part of our large family. Many foster carers have been with us for years, and have provided a home for countless children. One such foster carer is Gaynor who we are profiling today, recognising her great contribution to the Pathway Care family.
Getting Started as a Foster Carer
Gaynor and her husband Michael have three birth children and started fostering just over 10 years ago. Gaynor originally started fostering in 2006, previous to this she was a childminder which was a job that suited her with three small children. Gaynor did this for many years and enjoyed being at home with, not only her own children, but the children she looked after around school times and the holidays. She then moved into fostering when her two eldest children grew up and left the family home.
Gaynor has lost count of how many children/young people have walked through her door, over the years Gaynor has always enjoyed having the house full of people and having laughter and fun around her. Fun has always been an important factor for Gaynor and her family and feels this is something she always tries to implement. Gaynor’s birth children had a keen interest in gymnastics during their childhood, this led her to become a gymnastics coach. Gaynor carries this interest on while being a foster carer, and enjoys seeing how the children express themselves and burn off some unwanted energy. Gaynor felt gymnastics helped her own children develop and gain further confidence and she wanted to pass this on to others.
Gaynor had her own reservations when starting her journey as a foster carer, as she was worried about her own children and how they would feel about having another child in the house. Her main concern was her youngest son, who was the only child remaining at home. She was worried that he would feel left out and have to share his mummy. After talking this over with her family and the foster agency, she knew that helping other children and offering them love and support was the right decision, as she wanted to help. Her family felt the same and they also wanted to help offer other children a safe, loving home.
The First Placement
As Gaynor’s journey was about to start, she can still fondly remember the first phone call from her social worker for her first placement, she had mixed emotions but knew being a foster carer was for her. During the first placement, Gaynor said she found it, ”the most rewarding time of her life.” She knew from that moment she was doing the right thing, although her first placement was short-term respite cover, this turned into a long-term placement that ended many years on when the child turned 18. Gaynor felt privileged to have been a part of someone’s life and to watch them learn, grow and develop into a young adult.
Gaynor is also a keen artist, and personally finds art therapy a good way to relax, but also finds it good to share with the children that come into her life as she believes it allows them to express themselves and encourages development. They develop skills that they may not know they had, as they had never been given the opportunity. This proved hugely rewarding for Gaynor, and for many of the children.
During the years, Gaynor explains she has come up against problems, and bad times with some placements as they didn’t all work out perfectly. Gaynor can still recall the bad times, but these are outweighed by all the good. Gaynor has felt fully supported by her social worker and the agency, and feels her training has always helped her to move forward and grow as a person. She has also benefitted from having a supportive family behind her. To this extent, her eldest daughter, a teacher in a special needs school, has made an application with her husband to become a foster carer.
This has given Gaynor a great insight into children with additional needs. Gaynor feels that the increase in children with additional needs has raised over the years, and it is important that the children are placed with an age-appropriate family when in foster care. Gaynor has learned her own methods with children over the years and would love the opportunity to share these with new foster carers, as she wants to help spread the word that every child is different. She has found that effective communication and ground rules have always helped her.
As the years go by, Gaynor has learnt so much, each child teaches her something new and gives her fond memories that will stay with her forever and she can’t thank anyone who has given her support enough. Gaynor is the first to admit that not every day, week or year has been perfect, but remains simultaneously positive and optimistic. Stating: “you have to be real, and live in the real world”, Gaynor herself has had to have some time out recently to have a knee replacement, but this has allowed her to take a step back and re-look at her life and ask herself “what next?”
Gaynor is still a foster carer and loves her career, but seeing her own birth children grow and have families of their own, she knew her role was changing. She is a Mum and always will be, but her new role in life was now a Grandmother, or as Gaynor likes to be called, GG. Gaynor now felt she could offer something new to children that come to her, she spoke with her social worker and decided that being a respite foster carer would suit her and the children that come to her better. As Gaynor continues to support and care for others, she sees herself in her new role as a grandparent – one which she loves and will always treasure. Gaynor says: “I have rules, but we have loads more fun.”
Gaynor feels that becoming a foster carer was the best move she ever made all those years ago, and feels she has reached her goal in life many times over, as all she ever wanted to be was a Mum and being a foster carer has allowed her to do this over and over again, in Gaynor’s words: “I have the best job in the world.”
If you’d like to follow Gaynor’s footsteps and register as a foster carer, head over to our homepage for more information, or call our friendly team on 0800 170 1706.