Having grown up in a family with parents who were also foster carers, both Helen and her husband Neil always had the idea that fostering was something they wanted to do.
After their son turned 17, Helen and Neil decided that it was the right time to open up their home to young people who needed a safe, stable home. Speaking about her experience, Helen said: “The difference that you can make is amazing. All the children that have stayed with us are very much a part of our family.
“People often ask how you say goodbye to them, and you don’t have to necessarily. When you invite someone into your home and you love them, you think of them as your own children. They stay part of your life.”
And while fostering is hugely rewarding for many carers, there are days when it isn’t quite as easy: “Being prepared for the reality of fostering is key. There are intrusions into your personal life, like social workers that pop round and do unannounced visits who look round to make sure that everything is okay. And, of course, it’s always the day when your washing is piled up because that’s real life!
“You can have days when children are upset and they’re taking it out on you because you are the person that’s there for them. You’re their safe person. But then when you get days when they crack a smile or rush in from school to show you what they’ve done, you know why you’re doing it.”
But throughout the good days and bad, Helen says that Team Fostering will be at your side. As she explains: “The thing about Team, is that there is always someone you can speak to - it can be in the middle of the night.
“The nice thing is that you can usually picture who that person is, so it isn’t just some stranger, you know the social workers who are on call. They know you, and they know your children, so there’s always someone there.”
If you’re thinking about fostering, Helen suggests starting with a friendly chat:
“Mainly, just pick up the phone and speak to Team Fostering. Don’t worry about whether you change your mind after the initial conversation, that’s okay, it might not be for you at this time. You can ring and speak to existing carers, so you get a real picture of what it’s really like.”
To speak to our welcoming recruitment team, give us a call on 0800 292 2003 or leave your details here for a call back.