“To know that you are changing a life is priceless”

Author: TACT Communications

Tags: Fostering siblings, Fostering Teenagers

Sarah and Richard – TACT foster carers since 2016

I left a retail manager’s position in a food shop to pursue a different career as I didn’t feel valued in my current role. At the time, I wasn’t passionate about anything and lacked purpose. I decided I wanted to do something to give back to the community. Rich and I both felt fortunate to have grown up in a loving family and we wanted to give that to somebody who needed it, so we agreed to look into fostering. We looked at different local authorities and agencies but eventually settled on TACT as we liked their ethos. Other agencies seemed more interested in “bums on beds”, rather than giving the best support they can. We also liked that TACT is a charity.

Initially, we intended to foster a baby as I’ve always been maternal and enjoyed looking after family and friend’s babies. However, during the training process, our hearts broke at the situation some families find themselves in and we decided to foster an older child as that’s where there was a bigger need.

Following our approval as foster carers, I fell pregnant with our daughter Hattie who is now four years old. Our first placement was a 12-year-old boy who arrived when Hattie was five months old. He was a lovely lad, though sometimes a bit challenging due to his ADHD. He developed a lovely relationship with us, particularly with Rich. He stayed with us for two months before finding his forever family.

Our second placement was a teenage girl who arrived from Eastern Europe. She settled into our family really well. We loved watching films and eating chocolate together once Hattie was in bed. When she returned home, she wrote us a lovely letter saying how much she enjoyed staying with us and that we will always stay in touch. She now has a family of her own and sends us photos and updates. We hope to visit her soon.

In 2018 we began caring for a teenage girl. She settled into our family perfectly, her and Hattie loved each other from the start, and they still call each other “sister”. When the pandemic began, we wanted to shield as I was pregnant with our second child. She didn’t want to shield with us, and as she was then 18, she went back to live with her mum and nanna, which has really helped to rebuild their relationship. It was really sad to see her leave but she understood how we felt, and we remain close. Our whole family treats her as one of our own and she sleeps over when she can and joins us for days out. She has grown into a kind, caring and thoughtful young lady.

During this time we also cared for a teenage girl who stayed with us for six months before going to live with a family member. We got on really well, she was down to earth and mature for her age. She was always respectful of the house rules and made good progress. She is now at college studying performing arts.

Most recently we cared for two siblings under the age of 13. Although they had their moments like any children, they were so lovely and polite. When they first arrived, their behaviours were sometimes difficult to manage, as they fought with each other a lot and were jealous of our children. This is completely understandable, as they had a difficult start in life. Once they felt safe and secure and saw that we treated them no differently from our own children, they settled really well and made great progress.

Children just need a safe place to feel secure, and we are that safe place. The stigma around looked after children and their reputation for being unruly isn’t fair or true. Challenging behaviours are just a sign that something is wrong, or that their needs aren’t being met. These aren’t naughty children, they have been badly let down by society. When they receive nurturing, boundaries and a safe home they blossom.

Fostering is a job where I feel valued and appreciated. We receive amazing support from TACT, especially our supervising social worker, and the local authority. We keep in touch with every child, and it is lovely to hear what they are up to. Although we don’t always get any thanks while they are with us, they definitely let us know the positive impact we’ve made further down the line.  It is so rewarding to care for a child that just wants to be accepted and loved unconditionally. To know that you are changing a life is just priceless.

Read more about Fostering Sibling Groups.