Written by Sarah Smith, our amazing Fundraising Manager
As we approach our 35th anniversary in May, we are taking the opportunity to give thanks for all the amazing opportunities we have had to work with and learn from children and young people in the UK and across the world through our international partners.
Many of the children and young people we have had the privilege of working with over the years have been very vulnerable and come from very challenging and traumatizing backgrounds.
We are passionate about supporting these young people in the classroom and in other educational settings.
For two of us in our staff team, our passion to support children and young people in need is also a key part of our home life too. Two of us are foster carers! Rachel is a long-term carer, and I am a short-term and respite carer.
I thought long and hard about becoming a foster carer before I made the decision to start the application process. As a single person I wondered if it would even be possible.
I started to go to information evenings to learn more about what fostering entails and was encouraged to hear that there were many single foster carers in my area.
Since being approved as a foster carer, I have had the absolute privilege of caring for 5 wonderful children and young people. They each have very different stories as to why they came into the care system.
It has been heartbreaking to learn of the trauma they have experienced, and such a blessing to be able to provide them with a safe and loving home.
I have had as much fun as them getting involved in the activities they love, including building Lego creations, drawing, playing football, cooking new dishes, going out for hot chocolate, blowing bubbles in the park, going clothes shopping, and experimenting with different hairstyles!
I have been surprised that even simple things that are easy for me to provide have meant a lot to them.
One of my foster daughters said that living with me was the first time she had been offered a cup of tea. She was 16.
Another foster daughter had never been on a train before – she was also 16.
My biggest joy in fostering has been to see my foster children grow in confidence and their self-esteem as I have encouraged them and spoken positive words over them and been consistent with love and affirmation.
All things that we model when we are teaching the Esteem program in schools!
It has not always been easy.
In the more challenging times, it has been so important to receive support from my support network, which consists of friends, family, my church, and other foster carers who I have got to know, as well as support from the council.
#FosteringCommunities is the theme again for this year’s Fostering Fortnight, and it is absolutely true that it takes a community to foster a child.
You might not be able to foster yourself, but are you able to support someone or a family who is fostering? Perhaps there is a family that fosters in your church in your street? Why not ask them if there is anything they need?
Things I have found helpful are receiving a home-cooked meal to heat up, friends coming over to help with playing and reading, friends inviting us around to play with their children, or offering to take us out somewhere (as I don’t have a car).
Also having friends check in to see how things are going and to provide a listening ear has been so wonderful and much needed.
acet UK has been an amazing employer to work for as a foster carer! We have a fostering policy that enables me to have some flexibility with my hours and a week off a year for fostering meetings and training. This has been very helpful. If you would like to see the policy, do feel free to ask us!
I have really appreciated the training that my local council provides to help me to understand the trauma the children have been through and how to parent them in a therapeutic way. As a foster carer, not only do you have the privilege of seeing a young person grow and flourish, but you also grow a lot yourself.
I’m so glad that I took the step to find out more about fostering and to start my fostering journey.
Perhaps you could start thinking about it too?
Or perhaps you can think about how you can help a family that fosters?
Let’s work together as whole communities to support children and young people who are particularly vulnerable and need communal nurturing, love, and care.
You can find out more about fostering and adoption from our friends at Home for Good https://homeforgood.org.uk/ .