Lucy Stevens - 8th April 2020
Every year the Fostering Network runs a campaign to raise awareness of fostering: Foster Care Fortnight. This year’s theme is #ThisIsFostering.
At Eastern Fostering Services, we asked our carers to show us visually what fostering looks like for them. As photographs started to pour in, we felt so moved by the images of family, togetherness and love that they revealed.
A photograph can speak a thousand words, but what is behind the photograph?
The pictures that we are featuring come with their unique backstory. The couple featured in the photograph above have been caring for their foster daughter for 6 years. They have seen her through unimaginably tough times. They have cared for her in good times and stuck with her during periods of great difficulty. During this time, the young person has changed beyond recognition. She has grown into a more confident and reflective young lady and has learned how to explore and communicate her feelings and allow others to do the same. She feels fully accepted and valued as a member of the family. For this family #ThisIsFostering means just that. Family.
#ThisIsFostering: keeping siblings together
The carers behind this photograph have been fostering for over 5 years. Initially they worked with teenagers as they felt this would fit with their own teen children. They did this really successfully and saw several young people into independence.
They then decided to change direction and offered a home to a pair of young sisters. I remember the foster carers saying to me that the match just felt right. One year on and the girls are a delight. They are doing well at school and undoubtedly feel loved and nurtured at home. For this family, #ThisIsFostering means keeping siblings together.
#ThisIsFostering: keeping the faith
This photograph of one of our fostering couple shows the togetherness with which they approach fostering. Foster carers for 30 years, they have always been a united front, in it together and utterly committed. Over the years, they have made a difference to the lives of many children. They provided a long term placement to two brothers with significant needs for 12 yrs and continue to maintain contact with the youngest who now, as an adult, lives in supported accommodation.
They are committed to providing sensitive, nurturing care to all children and their motivation is rooted in their strong Christian beliefs and of wanting to improve children’s lives if possible in any way they can.
They currently foster a sibling group of 3 who they welcomed during the height of the recent lockdown.
#ThisIsFostering: one child at a time
I have to confess to the above picture being of my family! We began fostering over 4 years ago and have cared for 2 children over that time. I have two boys of my own, a foster son aged 18, now living independently nearby and a foster daughter aged 16 who is living with us now. For us, #ThisIsFostering is a team effort and means being there for the long term for all our children, in any way we can. Both our foster children are an important part of our family and we hope they know they are loved.
#ThisIsFostering: keep calm and carry on
There could be no greater demonstration of the importance to children of committed foster carers than the recent lockdown.
It has been a tough time for the entire nation. Yet, we feel we must make special mention of and give thanks to our foster carers. They are caring for children with a range of needs. Many of them are highly anxious when faced with uncertainty. Whilst some struggle there, many children see school as a lifeline (as do the carers!). Lots of foster arrangements are made stable and secure because every member of the family gets time and space away. Foster carers are dealing with difficult behaviours and traumatised children and young people. 24/7. During this period, they have had to be parent, therapist, counsellor, chef, teacher and facilitator. Moreover, they are often the first target for anger, fear and frustration.
We have been blown away by the resourcefulness, creativity and commitment shown by our carers. They have coped in exceptionally difficult times, drawing on all their reserves to continue offering the best care to our children. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You are awesome. #ThisIsFostering.
I’m interested in fostering. What do I do next?
We’re always keen to hear from people who want to foster. Please get in touch with us via our website, call us on 01206 299775, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can message us via our Facebook page.