With foster care fortnight coming up (16-29 May), and a national shortage of foster carers, those people who are doing it locally have been explaining why it could be the right thing for you – and your family – to do, too.
Mehrat Wosseneleh lives in Greenford with her 11-year-old daughter and the two young girls she is fostering on a long-term basis. The girls are sisters and have been with Mehrat now for three years.
‘It’s very important they’ve been kept together’
Finding foster carers who can care for siblings can provide many benefits to the children. It gives them comfort and security and can make it easier to settle into a new home. However, it can also help the foster carers, too.
“It’s very important they’ve been kept together,” said Mehrat. “And being together also helps them settle in to their new home.
“My daughter has also played a big role – they play together nicely, do everything together and have lots of common interests. They follow her and copy what she’s doing. We are one big family.
“I had been thinking of fostering for a while. I have always been really interested in children and I saw how my friend enjoyed fostering and the difference she has made to the children she cares for. And then the company I worked for closed down. I had a spare room and I thought – ‘I could do that – I am raising my daughter anyway.’
‘I encourage others to think about it’
“I always encourage other people to think about it, too, and they always say ‘oh, but it looks so hard and is a big responsibility’. But I tell them not to worry – it is how you look after the children that will determine how you change their life. At the beginning I needed to explain to the girls why it is important to have routines and rules because it was all new to them, but they understood me; and I always think – if you don’t teach children how will they know? I always tell the girls to be positive in everything they do. I talk to them; listen to them. I have encouraged them to become involved in activities, like after-school clubs, to build their self-confidence and relationships with other children.
‘I can see a difference every day’
“And the training I have had from the council has really helped me learn a lot and I still go to sessions now. The social workers give me a lot of support and advice – they give me anything I need.
“It is very rewarding. I can see a difference in the children almost every day. If they are happy, I am happy. I am proud of myself and feel really good to see them flourishing. We are a family now. Everyone leaves home one day, but even when that happens I will always be there for them.”
Interested in finding out more about fostering? You can call freephone 0800 731 6550, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the fostering page on the council website.