Johan, a phlebotomy nurse, started fostering for Lambeth in 2014. Motivated by her own life experiences, she wanted to show children they could be loved and cared for and part of her family, even if they weren’t her own. At the time when she started fostering, she lived with her two grown-up sons who were in secondary school and university and had a range of part-time jobs working children and young people.
Johan describes one of her mum and baby placements “I agreed to an emergency placement for a 15-year-old young lady expecting a child. She stayed with me for two years before she became pregnant again and moved on to a mother and baby unit.
“The best part of the experience for me was seeing her achieve her goals and the love she has for her children. She was a very determined young lady, she continued with her studies and got her GCSEs.”
“She was also very independent and would do everything herself, such as cooking and cleaning. So when she came to me and asked for help, that was rewarding. It meant we’d developed a good bond and a relationship.”
When asked about what it takes to be a carer for a parent and child, and what some of the challenges are, Johan explains: “It’s important to be patient and understanding. And give yourself time to get to know each other and build a relationship. The challenging part is knowing when to step back and allow them to make their own mistakes in a safe way. Taking over will only alienate them.”
On her general experience of fostering, and what some carers describe as their extended family, Johan explains “I really enjoy this part of being a foster carer, seeing my boys getting along with the children and playing games. Sometimes it can be hard, the children you care for don’t always come back. I find this difficult to detach from. Some stay in contact with me, others I get the odd text from here and there. It’s important to give them space as they may need to move on from period in their life.”