Fostering is a 24-hour job that requires love, dedication and a lot of hard work. LIZ LAMB chats to two women who have experienced the highs and lows of looking after someone else’s child.
“They said to me it could be hereditary, what happens if I die, the kids had been through enough. That was the attitude I received. Then I phoned up Team Fostering and I told them about my siblings and they said it didn’t make a difference.”
In 1998 Patsy, of Gateshead, fostered her first child. Over the years she has welcomed over 30 youngsters into her home including many mothers and daughters and numerous teenagers.
“You don’t expect them to be perfect,” she says. “You can’t go into this job and want to change them. Accept them as they are and help them become abetter and happier person.”
Things haven’t always been easy. “My sister had her car attacked and I had my door kicked in by drug dealers but these are not everyday occurrences. I have had my door kicked in once in 14 years. It was scary at the time. It was not the young person I was looking after who did it but people she was associated with. Because they are so vulnerable they do get preyed on by people because they don’t feel worth anything. You try and make them feel better about themselves.”
Patsy has also looked after seven young mothers and their newborn babies over a four-year period.
“That was hard work,” she says. “They have to be supervised all the time. The babies have to be in your room in some cases and as soon as the baby wakes up you have to go and get the mother and stay with her while she feeds the baby. They are not allowed to be left alone with the baby. It’s 24-7 care.”
Despite the ups and downs of fostering, Patsy finds her work rewarding and regularly keeps in touch with youngsters when they leave her care at 18.
“I had a girl who came to me when she was 16 and when she was 17 she got pregnant and the baby was born in my house,” says Patsy. “They now come around to my house all the time and the baby calls me nana. They come for Christmas and we go on holidays together sometimes. They have become part of my family.”
Team Fostering is holding two events in Middlesbrough and Saltburn to provide information to anyone considering foster caring.
The first event will be held at Middlesbrough Football Club, Riverside Stadium on Saturday, September 17, from 10.30am. A further event will take place at Hunley Hotel and Golf Club, Ings Lane, Brotton, Saltburn-by-the-Sea on Tuesday, September 20, at 7pm with a presentation at 7.15pm. The events will enable those interested in fostering to meet members of Team Fostering staff, coupled with a 45-minute presentation and then the opportunity to chat to existing foster carers.
Team Fostering is looking for people who are over 25 years of age, have a spare bedroom, and could offer a child understanding, guidance and support. In the case of couples, only one person must be available on a full-time basis.
Foster carers must enjoy looking after children and young people and be able to provide them with a nurturing positive family environment where they will be valued and encouraged to achieve their full potential.
Contact Team Fostering in advance on 08453 457 656 or email Nicola.cartwright@ teamfostering.co.uk for an information pack. Visit www.teamfostering.co.uk