Sunday, March 28, 2021

SLEEPOVERS IN FOSTERING

 One of the hidden benefits of becoming a Foster Carer is that it opens up your social world to a pool of people who are all candidates to be your new best friend.

Lonliness is one of the curses of the age, and there are times when we foster parents feel alone, such as the middle of the night with a restless foster child. Alone but not lonely, because next morning we can pick up the phone to our Blue Sky Social Worker and/or one of our new best friends; a fellow fosterer.

See, we carers meet up a lot. I don't know whether local authorities or other fostering agencies do this but Blue Sky hold regular coffee sessions (which they call support meetings) and catch-up sessions where we hear about the latest research into troubled kids (which they call training sessions). But these sessions are a roomfull of people who are doing the same thing. And nothing makes it easier to get to know someone than if they are doing the same amazing thing as you.

And fostering is as amazing as it gets. You only really really know what it is once you start doing it.

Our wonderful Social Workers get it, but at a kind of theoretical level. They know their stuff, they care to the nth degree, they'll do anything for you. But only carers know what it feels when the front door closes behind the last professional delivering a child, and you're alone and it's down to you from that moment on. Everyone in fostering except carers can clock off most evenings if they want and so they should. They can have a weekend off to re-charge. 

We are Foster Carers. For us it's 24/7.  

I promise you, if you come into fostering, you will be signing into a tribe of incomparable people, all of whom will have your back 'til they draw their last. Seriously.

We are a rum bunch.

My lot, my fellow fosterers in the Blue Sky catchment I'm in, without giving too much away, consists of a man who can't be reached by email not because he can't do computers but because he doesn't have good literacy. But he fosters great. Then there's a woman who used to have a top white collar job with a publisher, she's as literate as they come. Put the two together and you'd think they were sibs.

Fosterers...

A man who lost his job as a mini-cab driver, a woman who didn't know what to do when her youngest son left home for the army. An ex-professional footballer, a man who does baggage at the airport, a woman who can't have children of her own, a former nurse who had a bit of a breakdown with the stress of NHS. A divorcee who loves parenting, a gay couple who simply want to do the best for the world.

We could hardly be more diverse. But we are ONE, because we foster.

In our house we don't do dinner parties, never did - not even before fostering. But a few weeks after we were approved and got our first placement I was at a training session  and found myself sitting next to a carer and we simply clicked. The session was too short so I asked her and her partner to come over to us for spag boll the following Saturday. 

At the time we had a young foster child, one who was very compliant about bedtime, so there was every chance we'd be able to have a good chomp and yak with our new pals - they didn't have a placement at that point in time.

Long story short, they had such a good time (red wine was taken - in responsible quantities ie I had one glass then stuck to OJ) that we put them up for the night in our spare room and sent them off home in the morning with a full English under their belts.

They are friends for life, two of so many I've made in fostering.

I'm not saying people should consider fostering to improve their social lives. I'm saying that if you take the plunge you will have countless reasons why you'll be glad you did it, and one of those reasons is your new pool of pals.




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