A new start: 2021 could be your year to foster
14 January 2021If the events of the last year have made you reassess your career and lifestyle and you’d like a fresh start for 2021, focusing on making a positive difference for both yourself and others, fostering could be the role for you.
Foster4, a pioneering foster carer recruitment service, recruiting foster carers on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Halton Borough Council and Warrington Borough Council is looking for new foster carers to care for vulnerable local children.
Foster carers Ben and Miriam from Chester, who have just completed their first year of fostering after being approved in December 2019, tell us a little about their fostering journey so far.
Ben originally enjoyed his job in IT but felt he wanted to do more. Miriam knew that Ben’s patience and caring attitude would be suited to the role of a foster carer and so they enquired. They have now been approved foster carers for 12 months with Ben giving up his role in IT to be the main carer.
Ben explains: “Miriam had experience of fostering while growing up, as her parents fostered when she was about eight years old which had a profound and positive effect on her, whilst my parents are from Nigeria although I was born in this country. When my parents had to go back to Nigeria, I was brought up by a friend of the family, so I have some empathy with what it is like to be cared for by someone who is not your birth family.”
He goes on to say: “The training and support we have received throughout the fostering assessment process and beyond has been brilliant and the whole family has learned so much about themselves, as well as what life can be like for less fortunate and vulnerable children.”
Ben and Miriam were naturally apprehensive about the impact that fostering would have on their own son but wanted him to have a deeper understanding of children who may not be as fortunate as him. Miriam explains: “Experiences I had as a child really changed my outlook on life and both Ben and I feel that, if we can, then being able to help people to benefit from a better life is really important to us.”
In December 2019 Ben and Miriam cared for their first foster son, who was 11 years of age. He lived with the family on a short-term basis for several months and has now been reunited with members of his family. Caring for a child who was away from his family was not always easy, however, slowly but surely, they made positive progress as a foster family.
Miriam explains: “In the time that he spent with us he began to relax more, thanks to a consistent approach and regular routines. He began to look up to our son a little bit and that had a positive effect on his progress too. During the lockdown he received calls from his teacher who was impressed with his newfound confidence in his schoolwork, attitude and activities he had been doing.”
In October 2020, their foster son moved on to his long-term home where he has been reunited with his siblings. Throughout his time with Miriam and Ben they had created a scrapbook and photo album to capture all the experiences they had as a foster family so their foster son could take these memories with him. Miriam says: “His face lit up with joy and happiness when he saw the photos of the time we’d spent together. After he left, his social worker told us that he kept the photo album at the side of his bed – that for us is very special and shows that we made a connection and a real positive difference to his life. We’re excited by what our next foster child will be like and to learn and build on the experiences we have had in 2020.”
Councillor Bob Cernik, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “I really hope that Ben and Miriam’s story will inspire more people, who would like to support vulnerable local children, to consider a role as a foster carer this year.
“Fostering can be challenging but also incredibly fulfilling and the Council offers a generous allowance and excellent training and support to help anyone considering this worthwhile role.”
Councillor Margaret Parker, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s member of Foster4, added: “For some people, the start of this year could be an important time to reassess things and consider a valuable role as a foster carer. If you think you have what it takes to provide a loving home to a local child, please get in touch with the Foster4 team”.
If you are inspired by Ben and Miriam’s story and would like to know more about becoming a foster carer for your local authority, please visit Foster4.co.uk or telephone 01925 444100.