Our passion for helping others - Sam & Steven
04 April 2023
04 April 2023
My partner and I were very keen on fostering as we both have a passion for helping others. My partner, Steve, is a teacher, and I, at the time, was working as a Teaching Assistant in a first school. I also have a best friend who does fostering, and I just loved hearing about his journey. We have two children of our own. We also have two cats and two dogs and love spending time with friends and family. During our holidays, we love nothing more than to go camping to enjoy the outdoors and participate in fun activities with the kids.
We began exploring the idea of fostering roughly 12 years ago, but in the end, what consolidated our decision to foster was when I was asked to work with a child who needed a 1-to-1 TA. I was asked to take this position because this particular child struggled to remain in a mainstream school and displayed extremely challenging behaviour due to his home life. I found my job far more rewarding working 1-to-1 with the child than with a whole class of children. Each day that this child achieved one small thing was a huge success. However, this was not always smooth sailing as he did often hit out at me, run off, throw things, bit me and often had to be helped to keep himself and others in school safe. Regardless, I did not let this behaviour stop us from building a relationship. Over time, trust built, and I was able to educate him for small periods and help him experience new interests. This was around the year of 2016. Still, to this day, that child (now young person) smiles and says hello to me.
It is important when fostering to make sure that everyone in the household and your support network is fully aware of the process and the journey you will all go on. It is also important for everyone to be mindful that your life will be a little different when fostering. It is essential that everyone in the household is happy to foster because it is not just going to affect the adults. Fostering must be done as a team. There may be times when meetings, contact with foster children’s birth family, events etc may prevent your family from making other plans during that time. Therefore compromises may need to be made.
Aside from that, it is also important for foster carers to have a good support network around them. There will be times when you need someone to look after the children/young people for you to have a break. Time for yourself is key.
One of our most significant memories since fostering is seeing our first ever foster child, a four-year-old little boy enter our home so confidentially and shortly after, the social workers left. I remember thinking, oh wow, this is really happening! The following day was my first time trying to get him ready so we could take our children to school. He has autism and severe attachment difficulties. He tried to enter my daughter’s bedroom because he thought that she was a family member familiar to him. Trying to stop him from entering her bedroom caused this little boy to melt down. Over the next two years, we faced some challenging behaviours, angry meltdowns, destructive behaviour and many refusals. However, it makes me very proud to say that after years of our family working together to be consistent, loving, empathetic, implementing rules, and not giving in; he is finally very settled, happy and much calmer. As a family, we will never forget where we started and how far we have come to where we are now.
Once approved, we completed seven days of respite for a 15-year-old girl. A few months later, we had our first foster child, which was five and a half years ago now, and he is still here as a part of our family. This past year, we have also moved house and opened our home to more foster children by offering more respite. We have so far had a five year old, non-verbal autistic little boy who has come for respite on several occasions now. Recently, we did 12 nights of respite for a 15 year old young person whilst his carers were away. We are currently doing bridging for the same 15 year old while he finds somewhere more permanent to stay.
So far, we have been fostering for five and a half years and in that time, we have been through a roller-coaster of emotions. But we have always got through each challenge thrown at us.
The way that we have got through any difficult times is by having support. Support from our social workers, support from therapeutic input and support from each other as well as friends and family
So my way of coping and release is to go swimming, for a bath or go and visit my best friend.
Our biggest enjoyment is seeing our foster children achieve, develop, and build relationships. For many people, these are all basics in life, but for our foster children, these things can be challenging. This is why as a family celebrate any successes and achievements. More than anything, we love to make a difference. Even if we only help a few children & young people, it all makes a difference.
I absolutely love my job, and I am very passionate about fostering. I am also aware that fostering is not an easy role and sometimes can be tough. However, it is by far the most rewarding job I have ever done and will ever do. But it isn’t just me. I could not do such an amazing job without the brilliant support I receive from the Nexus team, my friends, my extended family and our children. Our birth children have been on a roller-coaster journey with us and have been fantastic. It has taught them valuable life lessons and opened their eyes to a life that has not been sheltered. Thank you for taking the time to read a little insight into our life in the fostering role.
04 April 2023