What it really feels like to be a foster carer

Author: TACT Guest Blogger

Tags: Charity, Foster Carer, Fostering

Date: 15th May 2017

Lynn – TACT Foster Carer since 2012

I’ve been fostering for five years and I’ve looked after five young people, all of whom are from pretty difficult backgrounds. At the moment I have a boy aged 13 and two girls aged 10 and 12.

I’d previously been working as a childminder so I was used to looking after kids. My daughter had a couple of friends who were from quite unsettled homes and they always ended up staying with us. That’s when I realised fostering was something I’d love to do.

Making the decision to foster is life-changing and anyone considering doing it needs to think very hard about how it will impact on their life.

TACT is very supportive to potential foster carers and offer lots of help. But the reality is pretty hard and you have to be truly committed to allow the children to be a part of your family, to be able to care for them even when things get tough.

Children in care have already been let down many times and when they are let down again by foster carers it can be very damaging.

When you’re a foster parent your role is to give the children a better chance at having a good life – that’s how I see it. The young people I foster have already had all sorts of problems and it’s my job to try and help them move on from these things. I had a great childhood and that’s why I feel so strongly that I’d like them to have a taste of that.

We laugh a lot but I make the rules clear. I’m quite a calm person, not easily rattled. As a foster parent you need to be consistent, and strong, too. You can’t let the children see when you’re upset about things that are happening in their lives. That can be very hard, but it’s important. Kids from difficult backgrounds need routine, things they can rely on.

I’ve been a single parent since my daughter Amanda, who is 23, was very small. She is very supportive. She is the one who always says to me, ‘you can do it, mum’ and that’s been very important.

I’ve spent my whole life with horses. All the kids I take on are matched with me specifically because they would benefit from being involved with animals and an outdoor life.

I feel very strongly about the positive impact horses can have on young people, and I set up a charity, the New Ark Equestrian Centre, to make sure they and local children had the opportunity to ride. We got premises at Linn Park in Glasgow two years ago and re-opened the riding school, which had been closed for many years. To see the place open and help children is like a dream come true.

Some of the children we’ve worked with have gone on to be really competent riders, even competition standard. One boy who works with us has genuine Olympic potential – I’d love to see him go all the way.

Teenagers can be a challenge no matter what sort of background they come from, but it so wonderful to see young people that have had a difficult start in life thrive with the help of the horses. That’s my reward for all the hard work I have put in.