Friday, March 27, 2020


There's enough to worry about what with everything at the moment (the virus lockdown etc). I don't want to add another concern.

But I haven't heard this one mentioned yet, so I'm going to.

When I started fostering one of the most surprising things was when I learned that more children come into care between December 25th and January 2nd than any other time of the year.

It surprised me because I'd assumed it was the season of goodwill in every home, a time of the family coming together…but no.

It turns out that when some families are cooped up together with nothing to do but eat and drink it can bring out the worst in them; jealousies, old rivalries, simmering resentments - the list is endless, and the breakdown happens over a period of 12 days.

So - and here's my point - what's going to happen in suchlike families when they have even less scope to get out and are cooped up for 12 WEEKS.


We're less than a week into lockdown here in the UK and the media are bombarding us with serious stuff about how to look out for the elderly and vulnerable - quite right too. There are lighthearted features on what to do to pass the time. But what about the physically fit and healthy but daggers-drawn families  more used to a lock-in or a lock-up than a lockdown?

One thing's for sure; there's not a lot anyone can do to prevent such families from boiling over. Their problems are usually deep-rooted and intractable. So; if it it's going to happen it's going to happen.

About the only thing we foster carers can do is hope and pray that more people come into fostering.

And that the government, which seems to have discovered a forest of money trees, can help with the cost.

Everything else, let's hope, will get back to normal eventually. The stock market will 'bounce back' (don't it always?). Premier League football will be on 7 days a week again, queues will concertina up again, toilet rolls will be available again.

The child who has to stay with a dangerously chaotic family because the only place they can be housed is the local police station cells, may never be the same again.

Thursday, March 19, 2020


Fostering, like life, is full of surprises. No-one saw the Covid-19 coming.

If you're reading this a considerable time after it was posted you'll know how the virus thing turned out.  

I suppose if you're reading this a considerable after it was posted that means that we got through it. It seems certain that we didn't get through it without the tragedy and tears of loss. Back in March 19th 2020 - today - we could only hope the loss of life will be minimal.

At the moment of writing this it's 6.30am in the morning and everyone else is asleep. It's a Thursday which would normally mean the house would be shifting about with hangdog people giving off theatrical lethargy and a controlled edginess pointed at the person cajoling them to get off on time.

Not this morning. Today is the day following the UK government's announcment that schools are to be closed from tomorrow until further notice. The announcement was made about 5.00pm yesterday afternoon after my brood had spent a tense time awaiting the news with hope in their hearts.

Eldest foster child was indignant;

"If Scotland and Wales can close their schools why can't we?"

To my surprise he listened to my attempt to answer that.

When the announcement was made the house experienced a new mood. A mood that can only be brought on by such news as this; no school for the foreseeable future!

I'm happy too. I love it when the house is full of life. But it's  not unmitigated joy, there are people in pain and fear, plus the person I love is living in our front garden.

What has happened is this;

My other half, who I've been with through thick and thin for three decades, has an old respiratory condition. When he was a child he was given a vaccine against polio but it backfired and he got polio. They thought he might never walk again, but he beat it and although he'll never run any marathons you wouldn't know his past from the spring in his step.

Polio, it turns out, often never fully leaves the victim. It's ghost can return in what they call post-polio syndrome. One of the symptoms can be respiratory problems. Which, should he contract Covid-19, could make him vulnerable.

In the middle of the night before last he felt hot, then went feverish. He had a headache, sore throat and achy limbs. His work takes him to a number of different workplaces, and one of them has an employee who tested positive about ten days ago.

We didn't panic, but he had to isolate.

We are VERY lucky in that we've got a little motor home, in fact we were due to go away for a couple of nights soon. But instead of being a holiday home on wheels, our motorhome has become an isolation unit on wheels.

He moved in straight away, about 6.30am yesterday. His temperature was 37.8C, a tad below the virus warning number.

I cleaned and sprayed everything he might have touched in the house and kept up a manic regime; every time I walked past the kitchen sink I washed my hands.

I texted the kids in their bedrooms and got a really nice reply from eldest foster child, a young man not famous for his kindness and consideration, but it's in there. He replied;

"I hope he's okay."

Doesn't sound much but it was. In fostering, no matter how crazy life gets, you are always looking for for fostering's many good moments.

Next thing I called Blue Sky (their offices open at 9.00am though you can get them any time of day or night if you need to). Their first words were the same as my foster son's. They said they'd inform my Blue Sky social worker who I'd met with three days before. She was going on leave that very morning however her holiday of a lifetime to Thailand was called off at the last minute.

Everyone's lives are all over the place.

I didn't get much rest with him in the van, me passing him things he needed (paracetamol, a fresh battery for the thermometer) through the drivers side window, then coming inside and…washing my hands. His temperature crept down, his headache softened. All day I was geared up and ready to call our surgery to see if they had any test kits, but he never reached a point of distress.

This morning I opened the bedroom curtains and looked down. He saw me from the motorhome and waved. We texted. He was on his first cuppa. His temperature was 37.3C, still a bit high for him. Headache a bit better, still pounding. Most of all; no dry cough - or at least no more of a dry cough than he's had a long time now.

I made him a sausage sandwich and passed it in through the window without touching his hand.

Got to go, the downstairs is filled with children claiming there's no point going to school today as half the staff are off and tomorrow - the last day - will be a short day anyway. 

Take care.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


Blue Sky have been keeping us Foster Carers informed of what the Coronavirus means to us; all the good old-fashioned common sense stuff, but I thought I'd pass on a titbit of my own that came home from school via eldest foster child.

The child in question has a love hate relationship with school; he hated it for a long, long time. He hated it until we got to the bottom of why he hated it. When we did we fixed it and it's stayed fixed. What happened was that we finally worked out that when we sent him to school he felt deep down that we were trying to get rid of him. I guess it must seem like that to a lot of children whether they are aware of it or not.

Anyhow, using the truth and hammering home the fact that we LOVED having him in the house, that we HATED it when he went off to school, that we LONGED for half past four when he's thumping through the front door like a bear with a sore head. We repeated over and over that our home is a HAPPIER home when he's in it, and SAD and BORING for everyone when he's out at school. And he went and did just what anyone would dream of doing but most of us chicken out. Not him. He called our bluff, in case it was a bluff.

He stayed home. Morning after morning he'd come down in his uniform and we'd go;

"No! Don't go to school! Please stay home…!' Etc etc.

So he did!

For nearly three weeks!

Boy did we have some explaining to do to attendance officers and their suchlike, but they got it and…it worked. One morning he came down and said;

'I've had enough of you lot all day, you're smothering me!'

And off he strode, and now has an 80% attendance record and climbing, and more important, is a much happier bunny.

That said, he's mad keen on the idea of schools closing for the virus. Just like the rest of them, except those that have to sit public exams and have geared themselves up for the angst and endeavour and don't know (at the time of writing) what is going to happen.

Today, for example, in our house, eldest foster child is going into school at 11.00am. He has permission to do half-days as one of his problems with school is large numbers of people such as you get at assembly, and fear of appearing different which he feels he would do if he were excused assembly. Plus, he has a history exam and he wants to do it! Result!

So, what's my titbit? He tells us that students (his school is a regular secondary but they prefer 'students' to 'pupils') are requested not bring in alcohol-based ant-bac gels and sprays. Guess why.

No, go on, see if you can guess.

Alcohol based…


They've been necking it behind the bike sheds (stupid - tell everyone it's stupid) …and they make you feel sick (surprise).

Just when you thought you'd heard it all...

Wednesday, March 11, 2020


When a new foster child arrives you generally get a visit from the nurse. Children coming into care are often less than 100% physically, never mind about emotionally.

Weight is often a problem. None of us needs a nurse to tell us if a child is overweight or worse, but when the nurse, all uniformed up and carrying medical stuff tells a child to eat their broccoli it saves us carers a job, at least for a while. 

One or two are underweight, that can be a sign of a different type of neglect, and the child needs good food and plenty of it.  Nothing wrong in my book with treating such a child to a welcome Big Mac, so long as the rest of the house doesn't get jealous.

Sometimes they have slight co-ordination problems - nothing serious - could be a slight issue with balance or mobility. It usually wears off after a few weeks good eating and…proper exercise. I don't think I've ever had a foster child who had ever been on a nice long Sunday walk.

The nurse who called the other day was one I'd not met before. After examining the child she sat down at the kitchen table next to me and asked a question I usually only get asked by people thinking of fostering;

'So how did you get into fostering?'

When I worked at Debenhams nobody asked; 'So how did you end up behind the cosmetic counter?'

Fostering needs more carers, simple as that. I used to keep my fostering to myself, but now I'm happy to tell people about it's many plusses and its occasional minuses.

When they ask how you got into it it's often a signal they are thinking about it. 

Similarly we had to have some police involvement with a foster child about a year and a half ago. It was down to the child's family, not the child, but two officers paid us a visit. I have always, always found them magnificent when they find out they are dealing with fostering. As they got up to go the younger of the two officers waited back and said to me;

'This is exactly the type of thing I joined the police force to do. You've made me think that further down the line I'd like to foster.'

So how did I get into it? I thought about fostering for a bit then decided to take the bull by the horns, and I telephoned Blue Sky. 

That's how I got into fostering. I stopped thinking about it and did something about it.

And yes, I'm suggesting that if you're thinking about it you do the same.