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Jackie and Barry have fostered teenagers for over 12 years

Jackie And Barry

Jackie and Barry from Lincolnshire have dedicated the past 12 years to fostering teenagers. Now with a vast amount of knowledge and experience, they look back on their journey and the impact they have had on many teenagers' lives.  ‘Seeing and being part of the transformations is what it's all about for us and it's so rewarding to see them reach their full potential’. They share a heartfelt email they received earlier this year from their very first placement which hadn’t ended how they had hoped. Jackie says, ‘Knowing that he’s turned his life around and he still thinks of his time with us, is what fostering is about for us.’ The resilience Jackie and Barry have shown since day one of their fostering journey shows how dedicated they are to making a difference in the lives of teenagers.  

Christmas was a special time for them as a family, their current placement, a 14-year-old young boy hadn’t experienced a good Christmas for the past 2 years in care or from what he remembered from being with his birth family.

Jackie explained ‘We wanted to make it extra special for him, he wanted a real Christmas tree, which we don’t usually do, but we went out and got one and he was over the moon when he decorated it.’

Jackie and Barry went above and beyond to make his Christmas one to remember, they invited his birth sister over and he opened all the Christmas presents he had asked for.

Jackie said ‘We told him we had an extra surprise and he saw his bike and his face just lit up. It was just amazing, and he told us it was the best Christmas he could remember.’

Jackie also works with her local Scouts and enjoys the rewards that fostering teenagers brings. ‘Along with the raging hormones, teenagers can be difficult to discipline but I feel I can relate so well with them. We aren’t necessarily a strict family; we joke with them and communicate on their level but have boundaries in place. You often find with teenagers and from our past experiences we’ve had teenagers that self-harm, use drugs and alcohol, and it's combatting those issues which can be tricky.’

They moved to Nexus Fostering in 2022 with a vast amount of fostering experience and knowledge ‘we knew what we can offer these young people when we look through referrals, with all our training and experiences, nothing scares us now’. Their current placement, arrived in April 2022, after being in care for 18 months with 11 previous foster placements, he arrived at Jackie and Barry's home timid, not willing to engage, and wanting to go back to his hometown. Over the coming weeks, their placement was holding hope he was going to be moved back to his hometown. Jackie said, ‘We struggled to make progress and felt like we were plodding along, taking him to family contact with his sister, and then something clicked after speaking to his social worker, he realised he was staying with us long term and he completely changed his mindset.’

Their placement is on a Nexus Care+ package, with a therapeutic care plan in place with regular contact with the local clinician.

Barry said ‘Nexus Fostering does provide the support they promise and our Clinician sessions have helped us use different techniques.’ Jackie went on to say ‘We can’t believe the transformation, he is really invested in our family, going to school regularly and doing really well’.

Jackie and Barry have taken many teenagers through to the age of 18 and helped them move on to independence and hope to do this for their current placement.

Jackie now aged 60, had a cleaning business at the time and Barry was retired, had been thinking about fostering for a while. After speaking to a close friend who fostered, they took the plunge and applied. In 2002, their fostering journey started with a previous agency and had a rocky start. With no experience and unsure as to what to expect, they agreed to their first placement, a young man from residential care with a history of gang violence came into their home. With very little support and guidance, the second week into the fostering placement, an incident happened with their placement and birth son, and they quickly realised this maybe wasn’t the best-matched placement for them as new foster carers. After seven weeks with Jackie and Barry, he moved out of their home but has since been in contact with them. Jackie said ‘two weeks after he had left, he messaged me asking to come back and said he regretted what he had done. He had reflected and realised he had self-sabotaged the placement, and couldn’t understand why we had been so nice to him.’  Years later they received this heartfelt email from their first young person in placement.

Hi, I might have the wrong person but I believe you are my old foster parent, Barry and Jackie? I am only messaging because I had a dream about you both last night and I woke up thinking about you both, and I just wanted to thank you for everything you both did for me, I wasn't with you for long but I remember you both fondly and I think about you both a lot. Thanks for everything, I am now 26, I have my own flat I have my own dog and I started up my own online toyshop! I am doing better as life goes on, and I learn a lot more and I mature with every day that passes, but I wanted to send this message as a thank you and to let you both know I haven't forgotten you! I still think of you both a lot and the house, I hope you both are doing well and I hope life is treating you both okay, thank you for the long-lasting impression you gave me on life. You will both always be my favourite foster parents I had. Lots of love and respect x

‘It was so lovely to receive this email and know he had been thinking about us and that he had turned his life around.’ That is the most rewarding part of fostering teenagers when you make an impact on a young person’s life at such a pivotal time.’

They discuss how sometimes placements don’t always work out how you hope. Previously they had fostered two teenage boys who stayed with them for over 2 years. Jackie said ‘Their personalities were so opposite and although they didn’t get on that well, both were doing well with us at one point. One of them was really into his boxing, but then sadly he got involved with the wrong people and went down a slippery slope of drugs and stealing. It was such a shame as he was turning into a good kid. He then went back to live with his birth mum. Since then, we have had calls from him and heard he has been getting into trouble, which is sad. The other young man continued living with us until November 2023, then when he turned 18 years old, he decided to move back into his birth mum. We’ve since heard he’s left college, but we can only hope things turn out well for him’.

Barry said ‘What you have to remember as a foster carer, is you can only do your best and offer them as much as you can, if it doesn’t work out, you can’t blame yourself, it’s just part of fostering.’

Jackie and Barry said, ‘A stand-out memory for us was when one of the young ladies we cared for had a passion for powerlifting and she was doing so well, she was keen to enter a competition in Finland, so we helped her enter and she went on to win a silver medal in Europe, this was such a great achievement for her’.

Jackie’s advice to anyone considering fostering is that ‘learning and experience is power within fostering, attending support groups are so important to talk to other foster carers. It is also important to not get too attached as you never know what might happen next as a foster carer. Remember you are a professional and that you are doing a job.’

Barry explained, 'Seeing the transformations and positive outcomes is so rewarding but it is also important to remember you haven’t failed if you can’t help them, not every young person in care, especially teenagers, will be able to turn their life around, and sometimes it's not achievable if they don’t want to help themselves but remember you are human and have done your best.’

If Jackie and Barry’s fostering story has inspired you and you have the space in your home to provide a teenager with the stability and love they deserve. 39% of children and young people in care are 10-15 years old and 25% are 16 years and over. It is paramount we remember that these statistics tell stories- thousands of stories- of young people and teenagers waiting too long for a foster family. Contact Nexus Fostering today. You won’t be doing it alone. Find out more about the support we provide.

 

Category

Fostering stories

Topics

  • Advice
  • Young person
  • Long-term fostering

Date published

30 January 2024

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