how long have you been fostering, and how long have you been with us?
I have been Fostering for 26 years, I have been with Nexus for around 16 years. Including a couple of breaks for health or personal issues, and to care for my own children.
why did you choose to foster with nexus fostering?
I chose Nexus as I had worked with Grace through local authorities, she was the Manager of our children’s service, and I knew she was passionately interested in the welfare of the children.
She knew why I left to work with another agency, so when we heard that Grace was going to set up an agency we wanted to join her! There were two of us carers who joined Grace, John, and Kelly in what is now Nexus Fostering.
I am very proud of Nexus they have always been the top of the tree as far as the fostering service is concerned.
Grace and Kelly have always worked well with us carers and the children we are privileged to care for them. Through their careful selection of staff they built a very good team, and have consistently found the right staff (both office and social workers and other support staff) that have made Nexus grow and grow just like the children we have cared for.
Some of them started to grow their own families that’s when you really feel pleased with what you have all contributed to.
what did you do before fostering, and has this given you any transferable skills?
I was a taxi driver and had a household removal company, and yes there were transferable skills. The main ones were listening and understanding. I used to transport children with learning disabilities, and some work with children’s services for looked after children, so I could understand where they coming from. Besides bringing our own 4 kids up! So helping the children to settle was paramount importance to me.
what do you think are the benefits of fostering, for you and for the young person?
The benefits to me and my family are to offer a loving stable home environment to a child or children who needed it at that time! And help us to appreciate what we have.
Oh, and to help keep me young!
For Solange (my wife) it’s given her the confidence to help her family and friends in Brazil with advice when asked on how to manage with some behaviour problems with their children or her grandchildren. It’s given her skills she hadn’t appreciated before becoming a foster carer.
For the children it’s been having a reliable and stable home with love and boundaries, understanding of their position without any judgemental remarks! To let them see adults can be trusted and work together for the children.
what were the main challenges in the placements you have had?
We love fostering, but there have been a few.
Trying to reason with children who are so damaged they really don’t know who’s who and cannot control what they do until it’s done!
Having a 6 year old child facing up and wanting you to fight them, then crying when being removed from your care.
Having to report a Mum for leaving drugs near a baby and having to have baby removed to your care ready for adoption.
what did you find most rewarding?
It’s always good to see the children grow and develop into young adults, then start having their own family and in some cases thank you for giving them the boundaries they needed even if they didn’t think that at the time, they use you as a model to help bring up their own children.
Seeing them achieve when they had given up!
See them do well at school after long absenteeism!
Seeing young people with learning difficulties grow older and move into semi independence! and manage well!
See their faces light up when they get a surprise for nothing!
And, of course, Birthday and Christmas for most children!
And help to understand those who find it difficult because they feel guilty or miss their family!
what is your fondest memory from one of your placements?
When a little boy went to live with his Nan & Grandad and gave Solange and me a very big hug at the airport on their departure, although we hadn’t actually looked after him for a few months before he left.
When a 2 year old was adopted into a family in Kent where we knew they were going onto a better life.
When a teenager goes into independent living and it’s down to you and them working as a team, and all the back up from Nexus Fostering.
if you could describe fostering in 3 words, what would they be?
A short version is apprehension (for your placements to arrive, from both parties), challenging, and (loads of) satisfaction.
Stick with it and you will get rewards, and disappointments as well, but it’s so satisfying when you close one case and move on to the next.
how have Nexus Fostering supported you in your fostering journey?
Nexus have a great training program with supervision every few weeks or as needed. There always ready to help if you need it. They’re not mind readers, you must tell them if you’re struggling, they won’t judge you. We have a monthly support group. Meet other carers, share your ideas as they might have had similar, and give good advice.
If you’re a part of a fostering family, how did your own family find bringing a foster child into their home?
These children are part of your family as soon. As they come over your threshold, you’re there for them. If you have any doubts, think how you would like your own children to be treated if it was the other way round.
what is the main message you would like to get across to someone who is thinking about becoming a foster carer?
Firstly, enjoy your new job; it will soon not be a job it will become a way of life with all its ups and downs. It’s sometimes challenging but on the whole it’s very rewarding and satisfying.
The kids won’t always thank you straight away but trust me they will appreciate it later in life and so will you, so good luck go and enjoy a great experience!
Lastly, you have got off on the right foot picking Nexus Fostering to start your career. Have fun and enjoy it’s not all smooth but persistence is my motto.