“It’s not often we’re lost for words, but the story I’m about to tell you has to be one of the most motivating and touching we’ve heard of for a long time.” Alina, Nexus Fostering.
“As you can imagine, working with children and young people is always interesting, challenging and thought provoking. Putting myself in their shoes, I’d say they probably find us grown-ups less enthralling and sometimes this shows! Looking at the world through a foster child’s eyes, it must seem unfair. Through no fault of their own, they find themselves living in an unfamiliar household, with strangers, trying to make sense of their daily routines, family in-jokes and the relationships they have. No matter how disjointed their own family may be, they will miss them. They will wish they had a more ‘normal’ family. No wonder they can become withdrawn and uncommunicative.”
A new beginning, a new home
“So, when I started to work with Jaime, I recognised the pattern. The first time I met her, she was a fourteen year old with a lifetime of difficult experiences and traumas behind her. She couldn’t just put down baggage like that and leave it at the front door of her new foster home; she carried it everywhere, day and night. She was quiet and cynical, removing herself to the safety of her own bedroom when foster family life got too much. Slowly, but surely, she learnt how to live in a home where she was loved, cared-for, supported and completely accepted.”
Volunteering at an animal sanctuary
“Working at Jaime’s pace, gradually and without pressure, we found common ground with her. She loved baking, so we baked cakes and bread. She loved walking, so we walked. She loved animals, so we found a local animal sanctuary where she and her foster carer volunteered on Saturday afternoons, looking after the animals who needed their forever home. Jaime had, most definitely, turned a corner.”
Helping underprivileged children in Kenya
“Then inspiration struck her one day. It was during a GCSE geography lesson where the teacher, well known for going ‘off subject’ started to tell his pupils about his son, who had raised money to pay for his trip to Kenya to help paint and decorate a school for underprivileged children. Jaime was awe-struck about this and decided to do the same. With the help of her Geography teacher, she secured a placement to do the same as his son. She was effervescent with excitement!”
“Then came the hardest bit; the fundraising! We shouldn’t have worried, Jaime had it all in hand and utilised her skills as a baker to hold a cake sale. Her love of walking prompted her to do an 80km sponsored walk and she gently persuaded all her friends, her foster family, members of her own family and everyone she knew at the animal sanctuary to sponsor her. She’s not quite at her target yet, but there are a few months to go. Jaime’s foster carers and I know she has the confidence, determination and wish to help other children in the same way as she was helped. I think she’s an inspirational young woman and I’m very proud to know her.”
Change a child’s life
Jaime’s not alone. Underneath that young person’s veneer of bravado or the shyness of a child’s insecurity is a pretty special human being. All they need is time, care and patience. Quite literally, you could change a child’s life for the better.