As part of our Foster Care Fortnight 2019 #changeafuture campaign, we asked 8 care leavers to tell us how their foster carers had a positive impact on their futures.
Each young person’s situation is different – from the reasons they were brought into care, to whether they were with foster carers on a long or short term basis.
Here Chanel, Alan, Jessica, Alice*, and brothers Ryan and Sean tell us about their experiences.
Chanel, now 23:
‘I first came into care when I was about 12 or 13, and lived with a few different foster carers. The couple who I stayed with the longest, and liked the most, were a couple who just let me be a regular teenager. Just little things like letting me stay out until 9pm, letting me go into town to see my friends (although they always checked I was where I said I was!) and helping me to see my Nan, made a huge difference. They showed me that although I was living with foster carers, I could have a ‘regular’ life and positive future just like my friends. And I really do. Now I’m a successful mum to two little ones, with my own home and family.’
Alan, now 23:
‘I was brought into care when I had just turned 11, along with my sister who was only 8. I guess we were really lucky to have a foster family who committed to care for both us for the long term. I couldn’t have imagined us being separated, or being passed from pillar to post throughout our childhoods. I’m now 23 and we have lived with Julie and Kev for all of these years, through being at school, college and university. I’ve now qualified as a social worker. It’s so hard to think of anything in particular they’ve done to change my future, as they have just done absolutely everything, from giving me and my sister happy childhoods together, to encouraging me to study and gain a profession. There really are too many things to mention.’
Jessica, now 20:
‘I was just 6 when I came into care. Due to having some complex needs, I really needed a family that would keep me safe and support me until I was an adult and beyond, so I lived with Sharon and her family and I stayed with them until I was 20. I am part of their family and we see each other all the time. They found me a brilliant school that could support my needs, and helped me to develop my social and communication skills. I now have the skills and support in place to help me live independently in the community, and I really enjoy my life with my friends, cats and rabbit.’
Alice*, now 25:
‘I was 8 when I came into care, it was so hard and I felt helpless. I really didn’t know where I belonged and was a very confused little girl. Being welcomed into my foster family took that burden away from me. I was greeted with love, compassion and a sense of belonging. I like to think that I was given a family who ‘chose’ me. They gave me the encouragement to pass all of my GCSEs and the confidence to get involved with things at school, like completing my bronze and silver Duke of Edinburgh awards. I’m now a mum of two and volunteer at my local church, and am hoping to get back into studying once my little ones are at school. I owe everything to my foster mum and am grateful for every day I have had so far and the days that are yet to come.’
*not her real name.
Ryan, now 22, and Sean, now 20:
‘Our foster carers, Angela and Frank, saw an advert in the paper years ago about becoming carers for the council. Frank has grown up children, but they didn’t have any children together and wanted to welcome children into their home- something about that advert obviously struck a chord with them, and the rest as they say, is history. We’ve been with them since we were 7 and 5. We’re now 22 and 20 and officially classed as ‘Care leavers’, but we still live at home with Sharon and Frank. Care leavers don’t have to leave their foster carers when they officially become adults. Not many young people are ready to leave home at 18! Looking back, we feel extremely privileged to have been welcomed into the family, and to have been able to grow up together as brothers. They have given us love and stability, and the chance to have a better life. We now attend college and work and are working hard to fulfil our ambitions.’
Feeling inspired by the difference our foster carers have made to their futures? Request an information pack and take the first step towards becoming a foster carer for your Local Authority today: