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        If you have a spare room at home and you can look after a vulnerable child, complete the short form and we will send you our information pack on fostering.

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        Lockdown Luck

        Extensive training and development
        Fostering allowance from £395 p/w
        Excellent support 24/7
        A friendly and highly experienced team

        Search our site for your answers

        Camilla Simson - 27th May 2023

        It was April 2020. Covid had put a halt on my work, and here I was, on my own in my one-bedroom flat in London. I’d just come out of a long relationship and my father had recently died, so it really felt like a new chapter was needed. But the country – indeed the world – was under lockdown. Not the ideal circumstances for embarking on a new adventure in life.

        I was however quite clear on what my new chapter was to be; I was going to leave London to upsize my home and I wanted to become a foster carer.

        I just had to work out how I was going to do that.

        Knowing virtually nothing about it, I did the obligatory internet search and gleaned that fostering could be done either through the Local Authority or through independent agencies.

        My immediate family had settled in the Suffolk/Essex borders, and I had friends there, so I knew that’s where I wanted to move to. My property search started in earnest. I found somewhere fairly early on in my search and the property purchase process got underway. Now knowing where I was going to live, I approached Essex Local Authority to enquire about fostering with them. Disappointingly, I was told that I had to wait to start the fostering process until I was in my new home, and this was echoed when I queried it with a few other agencies in the area.

        Undeterred and determined, I contacted another agency called Eastern Fostering Services. After a delightful telephone conversation with them, they agreed that, taking everything into consideration – including lockdown – it would be a good use of time for me to start on the application and assessment process. They would then conduct a Home Visit further down the line when I had moved into my new house.

        Had me or my home been a disaster, they were safe in knowing I wouldn’t have been approved at the final Panel, but they took a calculated risk, and it paid off for both of us!

        I have now been a foster carer for two and a half years, and I’ve had a teenage girl with me for most of that time.

        Having now come into contact with other foster carers through my teenager’s school, I hear many stories about a lack of support, mis-matching children with carers and a general lack of communication between them and their agencies. I couldn’t relate to these stories. With the understanding and flexibility they’d shown me right from the start, I already felt like I’d found a gem of a foster agency in EFS. But as time’s gone on, that feeling has been confirmed, and I feel so glad and so lucky that I’m with them.

        My supervising social worker is a huge support and always has time for me, so I feel heard and respected. She also takes time to get to know and talk to my teenager. In fact, the whole team of social workers at the agency are fantastic so if mine isn’t around, there’s always someone I can get hold of, day or night.

        The ethos of the agency is that the child is at the centre of everything we do, and you can feel that. However, they also believe in the principle of ‘happy carer, happy child’ so they have created lots of opportunities for all the carers to feel supported and looked after; Regional Carer Coffee Mornings are a regular occurrence, and lots of alternative health sessions are offered such as meditation, gong baths and acupuncture. Also on the team is a therapist who is highly skilled and experienced in working with children who have suffered trauma and abuse. Additionally, she’s on hand for supervision with the children’s carers.

        Training and paperwork are on-going through one’s fostering journey, which the agency help you keep on top of with kindness and patience – especially needed in my case!

        What also really sets EFS apart is that the slightly cliched and overused claim of a foster agency feeling like a ‘big family’ actually truly applies to them. Throughout the year, they host lots of socials and fun days for the children and their carers, which the agency team all attend too, so we genuinely feel like we’re all part of a family and a united force for good.

        We have a Christmas party, an Easter party, a Talent Show, adventure days in all the school holidays and half terms, and a camping weekend in the Summer. It’s such a wonderful thing for the children to be involved in as they get to hang out together and make really special friendships, and likewise, the carers get to know each other and share their experiences which are educational and inspirational!

        People often react with horror when I tell them my first fostering experience has been looking after a teenager. Teenagers can be a handful, to put it mildly, but can’t children be at any age? There are certainly a lot of teenage issues to deal with, as with any regular teenager, but children of all ages come with their special set of ‘issues’, they just present them differently at different ages. At least with a teenager you have a better chance of being able to talk to them about things, and them understanding, than you have a younger child.

        The agency has also really helped me to manage it and helped me keep things in perspective as well! There is a senior social worker at the agency whose role is dedicated to supporting the over 16’s as they enter their last couple of years in care and she’s a great voice of reason for me and my teen. She will be guiding her through her path post-school and teaching her about living independently, so that when she goes into the adult world at 18, she feels as ready as possible. Leaving Care can be as difficult and emotional as coming into it. 

        My teenager has come on leaps and bounds in every way, and I’m so proud of her. I’m also frankly astonished that she’s been able to do this in my care. But in the knowledge that I’ve got a whole team behind me, I’ve grown in confidence and our bond has grown hugely too. There have of course been very challenging times, but these have lessened in intensity as I’ve come to understand her (and myself) more, and I can honestly say, it’s been the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.

        Eastern Fostering Services - The small agency with a strong family feel

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