Fostering kind of found me.
In 2007 I received a phone call to go to a meeting down south regarding my niece through marriage. We will call her V for the moment. V’s mum was struggling to look after V due to suffering with mental illness and as nearest relatives we were summoned to help.
At the meeting there were a lot of professionals, school teacher, social workers, advocates & support workers etc. We were just mere mortals. They said V was being neglected and that she had missed approx. 18 months of school, she was a young carer looking after her mum and not knowing what state she would find her in on return from school. V made meals and did the washing but she was only 9. The team discussed and we listened then the big question “Andrew & Jane can you take V to live with you or she’s going to be taken into care” just like that with V sat next to us, we agreed of course, “It will be just for a couple of months until we can put in some help for mum”.
We took V home the same day, with just the clothes she had on. We made her a bed up in our sons’ room and he came in to our room. We went shopping and bought her clothes etc. 3 Months later we received a phone call “erm there’s a problem can you keep her” Months turned into 2 years, we had our garage converted into a proper bedroom for her. We then got a knock on the door it was a social worker from Friends & Family in Buckinghamshire, she had come to see how V had settled in, she said is it 4 or 6 weeks she has been here, I laughed and said try 2 years, she put her head in her hands. After that things moved very quickly. We fostered V through Bucks CC. We had social workers visiting every 2-3 months and received fostering allowance, which they kindly backdated “to stop any confusion” from the date she arrived.
V lived with us until she was 21, she excelled in school with A* after missing so much. She has since bought a house and got engaged and has a job which she loves. I felt so proud, it wasn’t always easy but very rewarding.
After that, Andrew and I spoke and we then decided to look into fostering. We got in touch with Fostering Solutions and the rest is History. We have now been fostering with the agency for just over 3 years it’s just been taken over by National Fostering Group and the benefits are so much better. We have on going training, your own dedicated social worker, a good wage, loyalty bonus, holiday bonus and much more. We have had a few children on respite and at present have an 11-year-old Boy M who has been with us 2 ½ years and is just about to go long term. It’s an amazing feeling watching someone progress and that feeling of pride when you realise actually it’s down to you.
If you have a spare room and are over 21 years old and you have a lot of patience, empathy, time and love to give a child then maybe fostering is for you, this is not just a career it’s so much more. I love my foster family and my extended support foster family made up of other foster carers etc. I love that I work from home and I’m there when my kids come home from school.
You can make a difference you can change lives for the better.