Heather, at 15, the eldest of 3 siblings who all came into our care on Halloween evening 2012, had already encountered many challenges in her young life. Little did we all know that these would be a precursor for the events that were to follow over the coming few years.
For the first 9 months, Heather and her siblings would travel daily from Worksop to Mansfield (35 mile round trip) to attend the schools they had been at when living at home with their Dad (step dad to Heather). With Heather no longer having to play the maternal role, now she was in our home, she was able to concentrate on her studies, obtaining 8 GCSE’s. With the confirmation of the placement being made long term in the Summer, it meant Heather could go to the same local school as our daughter, both of them starting their respective 2 year ‘A’ level course in September 2013. Not only did Heather work diligently for her Psychology and Health & Social ‘A’ levels, she also successfully applied for a weekend job at Blyth Services on the A1. Oh, how I enjoyed those 6am alarm calls to transport her there! Heather had also been reconciled with her mum who was overcoming her personal challenges.
In June 2015, just after her 18th Birthday, her social worker, an outstanding individual, had a meeting with Heather and ourselves to complete all the necessary paperwork to declare that Heather was no longer officially a looked after child in his care.
Heather was to have great news in August, as her mix of B’s and C’s at ‘A’ levels meant she was able to join the small percentage of care leavers who make it to University to do a degree course. In mid-September, our car laden with Heather’s essential belongings, we headed to Sheffield Hallam University, where on the Sunday before enrolment, she met her 5 fellow flat mates, all about to start their respective degree courses – Heather to embark on studying for a Nursing degree. We left her around midday, not expecting to see Heather for a week or two, as she hopefully would be adapting to a sociable student life. That night just before midnight, two policemen knocked on our front door. Five minutes later we had been made aware that Heather’s step father had been found dead in his house (Heather had never known her biological father and when her mum separated from her step father, he was awarded custody of the 3 children by the courts – hence the reference to the maternal role earlier as Heather looked after her younger siblings as much as he did.
The following day, back at her student flat, the news was broken to Heather. Two people who had been a large influence in her life had died within three months of each other. Heather’s resilience to such adversity was awe inspiring, not missing any lectures in those early weeks and making some close friendships. Her three year course seemed to fly by – by then monies saved from working at Blyth Services had paid for her first car. She continued to pop in to see us on a regular basis and was helping her mum who had a family with her husband. Heather graduated with a degree in Nursing in the summer of 2018, gaining recognition for her academic efforts in the autumn later that year. The Fostering Network had a National Awards ceremony which was held in Drapers Hall, a grand looking building in London. One of the categories was for ‘Outstanding Academic Achievement’, which Heather jointly won, a fitting reward for the 5 years of hard work and dedication, overcoming adversity during that period.
We still see Heather to this day, though a little less than in her student days. Working 12 hour shifts at Doncaster Hospital and preparing to move into her first home with her partner at the end of this month, mean her priorities now lie elsewhere. She is a wonderful example though, of how fostering can improve a child’s outlook on life. Heather embraced the opportunity, not only transforming her life but enhancing the enjoyment and pride of fostering, for her carers.
If you are considering fostering, enquire with us today and a member of our team will be in touch!