Laura, a senior social worker by profession, became a foster carer around 10 years ago to provide warmth and security for young boys aged over 11 years. She took a break from caring to focus on her career and family, but the recent coronavirus crisis triggered her desire to start this up again.
“I’ve been thinking about fostering again for some time. I was recently on duty and received a call from the hospital late at night. A 14-year-old boy was at home alone, both his parents were in hospital due to COVID-19 and he was recovering himself. Fortunately, eventually we found somewhere for him to stay with friends and family. Talking to him through the window of his house (because I wasn’t allowed to go in) and seeing how alone and scared he was, affected me. Witnessing the real-life impact that this situation is having on families reinvigorated my motivation to help.”
Laura’s always been highly motivated to work with young people. When asked why she chose to become a carer in the first place she explains: “I have one child at home with me who’s now 28 years old. He’s had a very privileged upbringing. For example, we’ve always had lots of support from family members, he’s been able to do lots of activities growing up and go on plenty of family holidays. I’ve always wanted to give some of this back to young people in our community.”
Laura gives her advice on helping vulnerable children: “You have to be consistent - there will be challenges when you’re establishing a relationship with young people. Setting boundaries from the start is important."
She continues: “You also need to be emotionally aware – some children coming to you are likely to have complex needs, which may unravel. You’ll develop skills you probably didn’t realise you had around support, love, and consistency. You’ll be helping an individual who has been through a lot.”
Laura explains the most rewarding part of being a foster carer: “That feeling when young people put their trust and confidence in me, in a way that only a mother or father can usually embrace.”
When asked to comment more about the challenges of caring at home for children during COVID-19, Laura explains her take on this: “I don’t want to say too much as it can get very political. What I will say is that I think this time could represent 'a gift'. G stands for goodness and being grateful. I, for I-self (who I am I?). F is for forgiveness, forecast. And T is for time - time for us to reflect on who we are as individuals.”