As part of our ‘Could you open your door?’ campaign, we sat down with some of our existing foster carers to chat about why they opened their doors and became foster carers.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I started fostering exactly three years ago, Christmas 2016. I have one son who is grown up now and lives in Dublin. I live with my pet dog, Alfie, and of course the young people I foster. My journey from approval to fostering was a very quick one! I was approved on the Wednesday, was introduced to a young person aged 11 that night an they came to stay with me the very next day! This young person stayed with me for 18 months until he was able to move in full-time with his dad.
What initially inspired you to foster?
I’d previously hosted foreign students studying English in Chester, which made me think about caring for teenagers in need nearer to home instead. I wanted to ‘give something back to the community’. I knew from the start that I wanted to care for teenagers as I felt you can give them options & choices which they could reason through and come to their own natural conclusion on. Teenagers are a ‘great age’- often they feel they know everything, when really they need be helped even more to make good choices for themselves.
Tell us a bit about your life as a foster carer
I currently care for two teenage sisters, who will be staying with me long-term. I also have availability and space to care for an additional child. I’m passionate about fostering older children and teenagers.
Before I fostered…
I was a bank manager! So a complete change of life for me.
How did you find the initial assessment process?
Really therapeutic. It took me right back to my earliest memory right through to where I am now.
What’s the best thing abut fostering?
When they start to trust you, when they relax, you hear them singing in the shower, they feel comfortable to help themselves to something they fancy eating in the fridge. ……………that’s when you know they feel like they are home.
What’s been your proudest moment?
There’s been so many ……I love handmade letters & pictures which say ‘I love you’, mother’s day cards that say ‘Thank you’.
What’s the biggest challenge?
Supporting them to understand and manage their feelings and emotions definitely.
Are there any training courses you’ve particularly enjoyed?
Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, which helped me understand that children who have been through trauma often think differently due to their past experiences. It helps you to understand what’s happening and then how to put strategies in place.
How do you find the support?
I have a strong network of other foster carers and my supervising social worker (who is retiring & I’m gutted!) that I really lean on. I have found my own network of carers I know I can go to for advice, one of my respite carers I now go out with for days out with all our children, it’s great.
What would you say to anyone considering fostering?
Do your research, and ask as many questions as you need to, there are no ‘silly’ questions! Team Teenager all the way!! If you fancy a giggle, can manage the tears & tantrums, invest your time & you will get the love & respect back. Fostering is absolutely the best thing I’ve ever done, and in case you hadn’t guessed, i’m a big advocate for people fostering teens- they’re brilliant.
Feeling inspired to open your door like Sarah was? Make an enquiry today and you could be fostering in early 2020.