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FCF – Gareth’s Story

foster care fortnight
05.05.21

“More of a calling than a job” Gareth shares his experience of fostering

After 10 years of running a successful travel company, Gareth was looking for ways to rebalance his life. He’d always loved children and enjoyed volunteering with the UK Scout Association so he began to consider ways that he could spend more time with children. At first, he planned to adopt and he went as far as becoming approved as an adoptive parent. However, he felt that life might be steering him in a different direction. Gareth said:

“Even as I was going through the adoption process, people I knew who were foster carers kept telling me I’d be perfect for fostering. I think for some people becoming a parent is something they just fall into. I don’t have any children of my own so for me it was an active choice. When I was growing up my mum was a childminder so our whole world revolved around children. Even as an adult, if I took the dog for a walk children would come up and say hello. So, the idea of spending time with children, doing the things they love to do was very appealing to me.”

Gareth spoke to Local Authority foster carers and those with an independent fostering agency. He chose the National Fostering Agency, part of National Fostering Group because “it offered good training, great support and I felt it could make things happen for the children and be there for me.”

He was approved in 2017 and became foster carer to a group of three siblings – two boys aged eight and 10 and a girl of four. Gareth describes the process of starting to foster as “a steep learning curve”. He explained:

“Although I’d volunteered with children, this is very different. As a foster carer you have to wear every parenting hat. As soon as you think you’ve got it sorted, there are new challenges, their lives change. The water never stays still around you and you have to flow with it. In the case of my middle child, for example, his confidence was on the floor. It felt like we were just starting to get somewhere and then the pandemic hit and after that a move from primary to secondary school.”

After the challenges his foster children experienced in the early part of their lives, Gareth explained that he aspires to be a ‘parenting pro’. He said:

“They missed so much in the first part of their lives that I find myself wanting to go above and beyond for them. In the summer we put up a huge pool in the garden and all of their friends come over. You open up your life. The therapeutic parenting training provided by the fostering agency has totally changed things. I completed the 10-week programme – two hours per week – run by a clinical psychologist. It was absolutely brilliant, I’ve learned so much.”

The children are now long-term and stable. Gareth said:

“People see us as a family and we like it that way. There have been lots of challenges along the way, not least of which was the pandemic which completely shattered their routine. They couldn’t see their friends, they couldn’t go to school. Routine and structure is so important for foster children so I tried to maintain as much as possible with regular bedtimes and mealtimes. We leaned into it. Now they are back at school, but we have a plan for each day of the holidays. It’s not set in stone but it’s a comfort blanket for them. We’ve gone back to some of the things we did when they first came such as planning out meals in advance each day.”

Gareth believes fostering is more of a calling than a job. “It’s changed me as a person. When I started, I was a 30-year-old single guy with a dog. By the following week I was a single parent of three children. It’s powerful to have such a huge purpose in your life. I built up a successful business, there were so many milestones but it wasn’t enough. Fostering is the perfect match for me. It’s unique. You draw on everything that’s happened to you in your life and all of this helps you to have a positive impact on the lives of children who’ve had a tough start, that’s so powerful.”

Has Gareth’s fostering adventure inspired you to start yours? Enquire today!

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