Martin first thought about fostering three years ago when his wife, Izzy, suggested becoming foster carers after being unable to have their own family. Martin hadn’t considered fostering and didn’t really understand what it meant. A friend told them about an independent agency that works in partnership with local authorities. Following lots of discussions and research they contacted Fostering Relations. “We were attracted to Fostering Relations due to them being a small agency and offering a personal touch. We also liked the fact that they encourage their foster carers to take the child on holidays so don’t have respite periods where the child goes away”.
Martin & Izzy felt that they connected straight away with the social worker. They first met at the home visit stage and from this they weren’t fazed and were very excited about the prospect of becoming foster carers. In November 2014 they moved into the fostering assessment stage. Martin recalls this process was daunting to begin with, knowing that they had to open up their lives and home to a stranger, however they decided to be very open from day one. In March 2015 they became approved foster carers.
Martin and Izzy were matched with their first child in April 2015, initially on a short term basis. “When Ben first came to stay with us it was really surreal and our focus was on making him feel safe and secure. The challenges have been making sure that Ben is not being exposed to what is going on around him and not being able to answer his questions about plans for the future. Keeping him protected but not lying to him can be difficult however we always try to be as open and honest with Ben as much as we can and remain objective as his carers”. The rewards however out-weigh the challenges Martin explains “seeing Ben settled and simple things like him smile and knowing we are giving him the support he needs is what is so rewarding as foster carers”.
Ben has now been with Martin and Izzy for over two years and recently gained permanence with his carers meaning he will be with them until the age of 21, or 26, if he remains in full time education.
Martin’s advice to other people thinking about fostering would be that you have to make a lot of sacrifices, be able to put the child first and have lots of time and energy to give the children the support they need. As a male foster carer he also thinks it’s very important to talk to other male foster carers. “There is a specific training course for men that foster which I attended and found really helpful”. Having friends and family around you that are very supportive is also so important”.
Martin feels the support that they have had from Fostering Relations has been fantastic. The staff genuinely cares about the children and our supervising social worker is there to support and help us at all times. We have heard of other friends who haven’t had positive experiences with their fostering organisation so it means a lot knowing we have a supportive agency.”
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