Hello, our names are Darrin and Mandy, we live in Cambridgeshire and we have been fostering with By the Bridge for the last two years, along with our two children aged 15 & 16 and our dog Daisy. Darrin is a dual qualified Specialist Nurse and before fostering I was a Teaching Assistant for 9 years, mainly working with children with a Learning Difficulty or Autism.
Darrin’s dad experienced a difficult childhood so he wanted to help children experiencing the same situation. I wanted to be able to help the children who needed it, not only in the classroom but in their life also. We decided the time was right for our own family and began the process to foster.
We chose to foster with By the Bridge as they are a therapeutic fostering company and at the Information Evening were very welcoming, professional and knowledgeable, while still being relaxed. We have experienced them to be the same since we started fostering. By the Bridge believe that everybody is equal no matter what their position and this makes for very positive relationships between staff and foster parents. This also helps when needing advice; if times are difficult there is always somebody to call. You are never on your own. The Supervision Groups are great places to talk confidentially with people who understand how you are feeling. By the Bridge also have many social activities to attend, if you wish, and again this builds great relationships between families.
We have looked after six foster children so far and have two children in our care right now. One is a boy who has been with us for almost two years and we expect him to stay with us long term. The change in him has been incredible since he came to us. Although there have been difficult times over the months, with our boundaries and the security of a place to call home these have lessened and he has settled amazingly well.
To see smiles on their faces, share a laugh, have a hug and be trusted is worth all the challenges.
Our other child is a girl who has been with us for fifteen months. She has Autism, Global Developmental Delay and a Severe Learning Difficulty. Obviously she has many obstacles in her life, but has changed from a child who sat and rocked in a chair all day, to a child who is going to school, gaining many daily life skills, is full of laughter and is even managing to ride a bike with help.
There are many times when we've had a day that makes us question if we're doing the right thing, for ourselves, our family and for the children, particularly at the beginning of our fostering career. However, with each of these days we've learnt something new, either about ourselves or the children and we've gained experience and understanding of how to deal with these situations. With the help, knowledge and non judgemental approach of By the Bridge we've gained confidence and this helped us to build strong relationships between us and the children. We are now seeing the difference we have made to the children's lives. To see smiles on their faces, share a laugh, have a hug and be trusted is worth all the challenges.
We thoroughly enjoy fostering as a family and are grateful to have the opportunity to try and change children's lives for the better.