“There are lots of children who would benefit from your life experiences, whatever walk of life you are from.”
Relocating, retiring, re-marrying, or simply wanting to give back to the local community?
In a brand new series of vlogs, foster carers from across Wales have come together to explore the reasons, life experiences and changes that led to them becoming carers.
The six-episode series will allow potential Foster carers to recognise the valuable life experiences they already possess, which could help them become well-rounded and supportive foster carers in their communities.
The series has been produced by Foster Wales, the national network of not-for-profit fostering services, comprising the 22 local authority teams in Wales.
The episodes will be released weekly on the Foster Wales website, social media and You Tube channels, and capture an honest and open conversation between foster carers from all walks of life.
The conversations were recorded in December 2022, with experienced journalist and presenter Mai Davies hosting the chats.
In one particularly moving episode Cath from Denbighshire discusses her journey. Cath says she’s aware that some people have an idea in their head of what a foster carer looks like.
Cath says she’s aware that some people have an idea in their head of what a foster carer looks like.
“I think people’s perception of being a foster carer is something that they’re not.
“A lot of people say when you’re out and about, ‘I’d love to be a foster carer but I’m not sure’ and I always say, ring up and ask, nobody will ever knock on your door and ask if you want to be a foster carer.
“Some of these children have had experiences by the age of 5 that people will never have in their lives, and it’s just having that empathy, understanding and non-judgemental attitude really.”
Beth and James (both 51) from Carmarthenshire commented:
“Fostering is something we both wanted to do but full time work didn’t allow the time or energy that’s needed however we were able to proceed in 2017 when we moved back to Wales. We both have so much to give and feel investment is the key. We also felt we could offer a long term forever home; it’s our opportunity to help a young person grow and develop offering stimulating and stabilising opportunities. It’s hard at times but overwhelmingly it’s the chance to embroider our experiences on to a young person’s tapestry in hope we help build resilience for their future”.
Meanwhile Jenny from Flintshire began fostering when she was 66 after her husband passed away, after initially thinking she may be too old.
Now, Jenny thinks her age has advantages for fostering.
“Where I live, the children on the street will play with the children who come to me, and they’ll say, ‘is that your Nan?’ And course, they say yes because it’s easier, they then don’t have to explain and say well no actually it’s a foster carer looking after me because that’s awkward.
“They see me as a kind of grandma-type figure, and I do spoil them quite a bit because that’s what grandmas are for.”
Jenny also speaks warmly about the level of support available from the local authority and also the foster care community.
“People don’t understand the level of support, it’s not just about social workers supporting you, it’s about other foster carers supporting you because you make friends within the community.”
“Other people with different experiences will be able to advise you how to work with particular children because they’ve met similar children before.”
Roger, 70, lives in Ceredigion. He feels his adverse childhood experiences actually led him to want to help and care for foster children.
“I didn’t have a happy childhood, and I actually feel I’d like to help children who aren’t having a happy childhood, there is that empathy for them.”
As a single foster carer, Roger says that whilst it can be difficult at times, it can also have its advantages.
“There’s still some prejudice about men fostering on their own.
“In some ways, it’s easier fostering on your own as everything doesn’t have to be done by a two-person committee, you can just make the decisions and the responsibility obviously comes on to you, but it’s simpler.”
“It’s very much part of a team, I think as a single carer, without the team you couldn’t do it.”
Head of Foster Wales, Alastair Cope, said:
“We have foster carers from all walks of life caring for our children within Foster Wales.
“We need people from different backgrounds, cultures and with a variety of life experiences to foster because we have a diverse range of children needing that care, support and love within our local authorities- children who need the opportunity to thrive and stay in their own local communities. That’s what fostering for your local authority is all about.
Whether you’ve thought about fostering recently or for the last ten years we’d love to ask you to contact your local Foster Wales team. We’ll help you consider if the time is right for you and support you every step of the way throughout your fostering journey.”
To find out more about fostering in Carmarthenshire visit carmarthenshire.fosterwales.gov.wales/ or call 0800 093 3699.