We live in Kent, and my husband Andrew and I have now been fostering - and very importantly working for By the Bridge - since the beginning of 2012. Almost immediately we qualified as foster parents, an opportunity presented itself and we subsequently agreed to take into our care three young brothers who were placed with us as their long term forever family.
Before making the decision to foster I had spent the previous 35 years, not only as a wife and a mother to my own three grown up children, but I had had a very rewarding and professional career within sales and credit control.
Once we had made our decision to become foster parents, we contacted By the Bridge and following our preliminary selection & approval, we progressed at pace through the initial training and subsequent qualifying process.
By offering just the simple things like a secure, loving, caring environment, that we sometimes take for granted, we can offer a child another chance in life and make a world of difference to them
Our role as foster parents is very interesting, vast and varied - and at times extremely demanding with three growing boys in our care. Since being approved and jumping into the role with both feet, we have never regretted our decision. We take great pleasure and pride in knowing that we are able to have a positive effect on their lives now and in the future. Simple things such as seeing the joy on their faces when we ask them how their day has been, and they can smell dinner as they walk in, it is all the little things that you do that helps to make them feel valued and loved. It’s not all about spending lots of money or spoiling them, it’s about consistency, love, firm boundaries and a good sense of humour – which we have in abundance!
As parents to three of our own grown up children, we have not only been able to call upon all of our previous experiences and knowledge, but we have been able to utilise the amazing wealth of support and advice that By the Bridge offer, to ensure that we are able to provide the best care and support to our young boys. Key to their development has been to provide them with plenty of love, positive attention, the ability to grow up in a safe and caring environment and teaching them the life skills that they will require in adulthood.
We pride ourselves on our efforts to provide our boys with as near normal lives as is physically possible, including home life, school and education, extracurricular activities and social situations. The boys all lead very full and eventful lives, including, after school clubs, Scouts, Explorers, Jujitsu with many opportunities to sail, ski, hike and such like, all these experiences have helped the boys with their confidence and self-esteem.
"It’s not all about spending lots of money or spoiling them, it’s about consistency, love, firm boundaries and a good sense of humour – which we have in abundance!"
It would be extremely remiss of me to say that it has all been plain sailing, two of our children are on the Autistic Spectrum, which brings with it a great many challenges that we had not experienced before and we are therefore grateful to have the opportunity to have the backup and support of By the Bridge to help us through some of these challenges, even if it is simply having someone to talk to.
I cannot stress enough the importance of having a good support network around you, not only from your own family and friends but from the professionals- and By the Bridge offer this at all times and on so many different levels. There is always someone to talk to and attending the monthly supervision groups, forums and coffee mornings is a great opportunity to get support, help and advice from other foster parents. It is like having an extended family at your fingertips. The vast array of training that they provide is always very relevant to the job that we do and always another great opportunity to meet other foster parents. Everyone within the By the Bridge “family” is so approachable that you never feel you are on your own.
We have found fostering through By the Bridge to be extremely rewarding and it is all the little things that the boys say and do that make you realise that you are making a difference, a great example of this is whilst on holiday last summer one of our boys was playing on the beach and Andrew ask him if he wanted to make a sand castle he replied “I have never made a sand castle”. So Andrew showed him how to make one and between them he built the best sand castle ever, and then the next day he wanted to do the same again.
By offering just the simple things like a secure, loving, caring environment, that we sometimes take for granted, we can offer a child another chance in life and make a world of difference to them.
So if you think you could do what we do, don’t waste another minute; pick up the phone and speak to By the Bridge and see if you have got what it takes to join our “family”.