June – TACT Foster Carer since 2013
I started fostering more than 30 years ago, when I was in my 20’s. I have always had a big heart and wanted to give it to those who needed it. I knew that there were children who had been let down by society and that they just needed somebody who cares and that was on their side. I knew it wouldn’t always be easy, but I wasn’t afraid of a challenge.
Most recently, I took in a 16 year old girl during lockdown. When she arrived, she was understandably quite nervous. I left a small gift for her in her room. We hung some of her guitars on the wall to make it feel more like her home. I was told she wasn’t very talkative, but by the evening she hadn’t stopped talking for hours and asking questions. They just need to be reassured.
She has settled in extremely well. I know this has not been the case for everyone, but we have found some positives to being locked down. It has meant that we have spent a lot more time together than we would have otherwise, and this has really helped us to get to know each other and become comfortable.
Occasionally she has been a bit frustrated, but I’m lucky that I live in a rural area with lots of surrounding land so there have been plenty of opportunities to keep her stimulated. We have had water fights in the garden and long walks and bike rides. She has also enjoyed going to the shops with me now that they’re open. We have been wearing masks that my sister has made for us.
She has kept in touch with her birth family through video calls, which I’ve supervised off-screen. I did also take her to meet her family in a car park, while maintaining social distance, so they could hand over her pet hamster! She has stayed in touch with her friend through video calls too, they link up and watch films together. Now that the lockdown measures have been relaxed, she has also had a friend come to visit.
She has only been here for 7 weeks, but it feels like she has been a part of our family forever. After five days, her social worker got in touch to ask her how she rated her placement on a scale of 1-10, and she said 11. The social worker said to the girl that she owes her a coffee for putting us together, but she replied that the social worker owes her a hot chocolate with marshmallows for taking so long!
For anyone who is considering fostering, I would say just do it. Every child is different and it’s important to remember that and make sure you are adaptable. It can be challenging, but nobody is expecting everything to be perfect on day one. Just take it day by day and don’t rush anything and make sure they know that you are on their side.