People decide to foster for a number of different reasons. Perhaps they have the time and energy to dedicate to a young person to help them thrive and reach their potential, perhaps they have previous experience that they could bring to the role, or perhaps they are motivated by seeing the rewards for a young person in giving them a stable family life.
This blog looks at a young person and a single foster carer who came together to forge a very special bond, one which has been mutually beneficial and resulting in a relationship that will last a lifetime.
Lesley is a Foster Carer who initially fostered with her now ex-husband then made the decision to return to fostering as a single carer.
Her initial motivation to foster came from her own childhood experience and she wanted to help children and young people in her care feel the same sense of family and belonging.
“That is the type of upbringing I had. I don’t really have bad stories to tell from my childhood. My mum and dad were amazing. I thought if I could give some of that experience I had, that would be really important and something which I wanted to offer.”
“I had two main reasons that guided me into fostering. One was that when I had my son, his disabilities and genetic condition impacted on the possibility of having more birth children. The second came when we looked into adoption, we thought about how we could benefit even more children with a good stable, loving family, helping give them some normality in their life.”
Lesley’s most recent journey back into fostering came with Care Visions Fostering just a few years ago.
“I knew it was something that I wanted to come back to. My son is very social, so I had no worries about him being there and involved. He enjoys the hubble-bubble of people in the house. When thinking about moving forward as an individual carer, I wasn’t sure about the process of re-registering and how that would be. However, I was delighted to be snapped up based on my experience and what I could offer.”
“I was looking at longer term placements. However, I had a phone call to help provide emergency support to which I agreed to. This support involved looking after a teenager, that wasn’t something that I thought I wanted to do.”
We will call the teenager who came to live with Lesley – V, (her wishes).
V came to stay with Lesley along with her younger brother. This was an emergency placement, and her younger brother was able to return home after a short while. V however stayed and, nearly 3 years later, can share what this has been like for her.
V said, “At first it was quite scary. I’d never been in a situation like this before. However, the more I got to know Lesley, the more I felt part of the family. It’s normal now, it’s my way of life.”
A problem with family home life meant that she came into fostering in her mid-teens, something that she never expected to need to happen. Lesley was able to help and support V during this turbulent time.
“My apprehensions were that I didn’t know what was happening, it all happened so fast. I never expected to come to live in someone’s house. But over a little time it just felt that I was meant to be here. Now me and Lesley enjoy just hanging out, like she is my friend, going on road trips, doing jigsaws, making dinner, stuff like that.”
“We just gelled. Lesley is just such a nice person, you can talk to her about anything. I didn’t have before. She is like an older sister, mum, best friend all in one. It’s really good to always having someone who is there for you, always having someone to talk to. Sharing your day-to-day experiences, or asking for advice when it is needed.”
So what does the future look like for the now 18 year-old V? V said that she is looking to continue her studies, but right now is enjoying a new level of independence, still with Lesley’s support.
“I am keen to go to college and Uni to do psychology. But right now, I am enjoying living in the moment seeing where life takes me. I don’t want to be too stressed by that at this time. I have recently applied for a job and I think that will be really good to continue to enjoy spending time in different places.”
“Lesley, is always there for me when I need her. That’s really valuable to me.”
Lesley was keen to let V know from an early stage that she will always have a place to stay with her, even if she continued to foster other children and young people.
“V knows that she doesn’t need be here, but she chooses to be here. We laugh and joke about it, with her saying she will still be here when she’s 40. Although the Continuing Care agreement would normally end at 21, she has a home for life here.”
Lesley is now also currently fostering a baby boy and has this advice for those thinking about fostering as a single carer.
“Whether you are a couple or an individual you can foster. It doesn’t make a difference. You can give as much as you can being an individual carer.”
For more information on fostering with Care Visions, you can visit: carevisionsfostering.co.uk/request-information