Our journey began in February 2012 when I saw an advert in the local paper for By the Bridge. They were looking for people to become Foster Parents and I read the advert with interest. I had a 15 year career in the Leisure industry and Tom was a Police Officer with Cambridgeshire Constabulary.
I had spoken about a change of career as shift work was putting a strain on our expanding family, at this point we had three of our own children, the youngest being 18 months old.
Following on from reading the advert I convinced Tom to go to the information evening which was advertised and he reluctantly allowed me to drag him along.
Two hours later we left the venue, looked at each other and both said “We could do that”. We filled in the application form and sent it back.
A day or two later we were invited to a 2 day training course – we loved it and met so many people from all walks of life who were interested in fostering too. We thoroughly enjoyed the 2 days and went home feeling nervous while we waited to see if we had got through.
To our delight we had and there started a 6 week assessment with an Independent Social Worker. This process was pretty intense and thought-provoking but as we came to the end we knew we were doing the right thing.
At the end of May 2012 we went nervously off to panel, I was a bag of nerves but we were so well looked after we got through. The phone call the next day from the Decision Maker was a huge relief – we were going to be Foster Parents!
The mandatory training courses that followed were a huge help and very informative. We quickly became friends with other families in our region and those families are a big part of our lives today.
That’s where it begun. We have been fostering for 9 years and it’s been a whirlwind. There has been highs and lows, days where we wonder what on earth we are doing but in general it’s been the best decision we ever made. We (unexpectedly) welcomed another birth son into the family in June 2015 which added a little to the pressure but we made it work.
Between May 2012 and July 2013 we welcomed a couple of teenage girls into our home, one stayed with us for a few weeks and the other 11 months.
The young man who we foster currently has been with us for 8 years now. We have had our challenges but have always felt reassured that we have plenty of support with our Supervising Social Worker Sue and By the Bridge. When he first arrived he came with one of his siblings who stayed with us for a year then moved on to live with a family member. The placement was only meant to be very short term and the boy arrived at 11pm at night as an emergency - 8 years later he is still with us, in his final year at secondary school and hopefully going off to college in September.
By the Bridge has been an exceptional organisation to work with. The training and support is second to none and it really feels we are part of a big family. In the early days I needed to call the Out of Hours service a few times – again we were well looked after and they always had help and advice to give in a tricky situation.
Have you considered Fostering? There's no better time to find out how you could change a young person's life forever. Get in Touch with By the Bridge today to find out more!