Having met as teenagers in 1995, Paul and Laura always wanted to foster. Shortly after their marriage in September 2013, Laura kept hearing adverts on the radio for By the Bridge and decided to make enquiries. The fostering process began very quickly afterwards. Each meeting and training course made them want to foster even more. They were really impressed with all the support they were given and found their assessor absolutely amazing. They were approved to foster in May 2014 and were so excited at having the opportunity to change children's lives.
Within a few days their Link Worker visited and discussed 14 year old ‘Lucy*’ with them. She had had nine foster families in four years, but they and their Link Worker agreed that ‘Lucy’ would fit in with them very well. Now, nine months on they say it has been ‘a complete roller coaster’ but they recognize they have made a lot of progress and they couldn’t imagine their lives to be any different.
“We are a team and work together, we have a little de-brief most nights before bed! The most important thing is to show ‘Lucy’ that we mean it when we say we won't give up on her. ‘Lucy’ does test us but we always talk calmly to her and explain why certain behaviour is not acceptable and we help her to deal with things differently. Teaching ‘Lucy’ self-respect is something we work through on a daily basis. We really want her to understand and believe she is worth it.
We always make sure she knows that she can ask us anything and we will always be honest with her and discuss things with her. We let her know her opinion is important.
When ‘Lucy’ first moved in, she told us that she has never, and will never, call anyone Mum or Dad. A few months ago, she started introducing us as "Mum and Dad" and got us a Christmas card with "To Wonderful Parents" on.
At Christmas, she listed quite a lot of things that she would like including some expensive trainers; but her favourite present was something that didn’t cost much at all, it was a door key on a keyring. ‘Lucy’ mentioned to us that she had never had a key as she has never had a home, so to see her face when she opened this little box with a door key in was amazing.”
Paul and Laura also have a little book with "Because I'm Worth It" written on the front which they leave around the house so ‘Lucy’ can look at it. They write little notes in there to let ‘Lucy’ know how proud they are of her when does well.
“Fostering is amazing. By the Bridge is almost like our professional family. We are impressed with the level of training provided, and the staff team at the office are, again, like extended members of our family.
"Our Link Worker is like the cog that keeps the wheels turning. She’s always available on the end of the phone or in person to keep me grounded in times when things can get stressful. It is great to have that person who knows you better than most and who is the first person to tell you as foster parents just how well you’re doing”