Val's Duke of Edinburgh experience with our young people
27 October 2023
27 October 2023
Val, our Regional Therapeutic Lead, had the pleasure of joining some of our young people who recently took part in their Silver Duke of Edinburgh expedition. We caught up with Val, who shared how she found this expedition humbling and life-affirming opportunity that she will endlessly treasure. Below is what Val had to tell us.
I had an opportunity to share my weekend with some extraordinary young people taking part in the Silver Duke of Edinburgh Expedition Award alongside some wonderful colleagues. These young people, who were not afforded the care or nurture they rightly deserved in their earlier years, had all the natural hesitancies of being vulnerable and having little faith in themselves. And yet, they coped with being lost, tired; and yes, they occasionally complained and experienced doubt, but they rallied and dug deep. They even took it in turn to lead others and at times literally pushed others up steep inclines such was their determination to help them to the top.
There was such symbolism to their individual journeys on the expedition; learning to trust and navigate their way though the unpredictable and often uncertain terrain of the landscape but similarly, would have had to navigate their lives in foster care.
However, what was so wonderful was seeing that they were now at a place in their lives where they could be supportive and encouraging to others and help them with their journey. Of course, not unlike many young people who get distracted and do not follow the advice (despite frequent reminders!), a couple of the young people forgot to pack their day's essential items for the hiking ahead, like their food or their portable cookers. However, they were able to take responsibility and did not blame others. Others showed kindness, and no young person went without.
By day 2, the young people had achieved a level of familiarity amongst them that felt safe. There was gentle teasing, ‘in-jokes’, and an ease of familiarity that bound them together. They laughed, sang songs, and shared of themselves. Since my many years of being at Nexus Fostering, what really proved a pivotal moment was my realisation of the absolute embodiment of the foster carer effort within these young people. Some had perhaps entered foster care with their own innate levels of resilience and survival instincts, but it was the care effort through their experiences in care that had inevitably shaped them.
They were proud and confident young people because they were made to feel worthy. They mattered to those who mattered them.
They were seen and listened to. Their strengths, abilities, hopes, and dreams were supported as an objective truth. But what I felt, most of all was a palpable sense of their emotional safety within themselves.
I had a tearful moment in my tent one night (freezing, despite being August!) when recalling a conversation whilst seated with a young person around the fire pit, toasting marshmallows under the night sky that evening. She said that she is so glad that she is in care, that there was no opportunity that was not given to her. She felt valued and had a voice that was respected. Foster care had given her a chance to be happy, and her future was bright. She was confident, articulate and an absolute pleasure to be with. She went onto say that she was looking forward to welcoming other children into their household so that they could receive the same level of love and care she received.
For me, I saw, in a way, I had never seen before, what fostering can really do.
To me, this was a humbling and life-affirming opportunity that I will endlessly treasure.
Look out for more projects and activities our young people get up to - Children & Young People's Participation | Nexus Fostering
27 October 2023