As we approach the end of our first year as Foster Parents, we take a look back at our incredible journey. A journey that started with an easy decision. Some people we knew said that they would recommend us to their fostering organisation, but we wanted to find an agency that we thought was right for us.
We did a lot of searching and one of them seemed to stand out from the rest, the name of that organisation was By the Bridge. The day of the information evening arrived and we listened to the presentation. It was so obvious to us that they were very professional, so we filled in our application form and posted it off. We were then invited to attend two training courses and were then told that we had been accepted to go through the assessment process.
We went on to receive a phone call from Fran who introduced herself as our Assessment Social Worker. She told us that it was a long, in-depth process and had asked us to do a little bit of homework so that we would be prepared for our meetings. Fran had received all of the necessary references and all of the checks had been completed. We were then ready to go in front of the By the Bridge panel for them to make their decision and were given a date to attend panel in April 2019. The panel were all really nice people and made us feel so at ease. We were over the moon when we were told that panel were approving us to be Foster Parents. We couldn’t believe we had done it, we were going to be Foster Parents.
We were then contacted by our Supervising Social Worker, Amber, she welcomed us to the By the Bridge family and gave us lots of helpful information and resources to help get us started. She was fantastic and we knew that we couldn’t have asked for anyone better to help us along our fostering journey.
Early July we received a referral for Maisy* who was a 13-year-old girl of Zimbabwean heritage. Things progressed really quickly and 3 days later she had come to stay with us. To us, at this point the length of time that Maisy would be with us was not important, we just wanted to do the very best that we could for her before she returned to her birth parents. Our Supervising Social Worker, Amber was incredibly supportive as always and was eager to help us with our next young person and encouraged us and guided us every step of the way.
In late August of 2019, we were then asked to be considered to become the Foster Parents of Tabitha*. Within 4 days she arrived and was introduced to us by her Local Authority Social Worker Amanda. We dearly hoped to be able to love and help Tabitha as best as we could and soon realised this would be a challenge as she had developed a lot of issues and drifted into a very secretive life. Tabitha had told our Grandchildren at school that she wanted to stay with us until she was 18. All children are very different and react to trauma and loss in their own way but it was a real pleasure to look after her, a very positive experience for us which we were sure would help us as we progressed as Foster Parents.
When Tabitha left, we eagerly, anticipated welcoming the next foster child into our home and were both hoping for a long term placement. We didn’t have long to wait as the following day we were contacted and asked if Toby* could come to meet us. We met on Wednesday and Toby became our Foster Child in October 2019. Toby is a very polite young man who is very chatty and settled in with us quickly. He gets on well with all of our family and enjoys playing with our grandchildren. Toby has now been part of our family for 8 months and it’s a pleasure to be his Foster Parents.
There were of course, short periods of time which we were without Foster Children. Time which we decided was best used to fit in more training courses and enjoy attending the Supervision groups. Sharing experiences and information is really important and helped us to become better Foster Parents. The training and support provided by By the Bridge is second to none and all of the staff have always been very helpful at all times. To help us with our training we also bought some books, all of which were recommended by people we have met at By the Bridge and we have found them to be a great source of information.
We write this wholeheartedly and can honestly say we have had an incredible and eventful journey during our first year as Foster Parents and have enjoyed it immensely. There have been ups and downs but mainly lots of positives to take from our journey which have helped us grow.
Our children and grandchildren have supported us all of the way, they have encouraged us from the day that we told them that we were going to apply to be Foster Parents which we are thankful for.
We have met some wonderful, caring people over the last twelve months and learnt such a lot from them, it’s amazing what you can learn from other people who are experiencing or have experienced similar situations as yourself. We now look forward to the future and whatever that brings, we are confident that we can continue to help our current Foster Child to develop and help him prepare for a happy and successful adult life.
We intend to continue to attend any relevant training courses and would especially like to get training on internet safety and ways to safeguard children online. Thank you to Amber, our incredible Supervising Social Worker, who is always there to give us sound thoughtful advice. We feel blessed that we are working with By the Bridge with Cambian who we consider to be one of the best fostering organisation in this country.
*names have been changed to protect children and young people's identity
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