Together We Can
As of March 31st 2014, 68,840 children were in the care of local authorities according to statistics from the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF). Records show that there are currently around 44,800 foster families in England, with a need to recruit an estimated 8,370 more foster families in the next 12 months in order to provide homes for children in care.
Becoming a foster carer is a rewarding experience for both you and a foster child. By choosing to foster, you’ll be able to make a profound difference in a child’s life and we’ll make sure to help you every step of the way.
We’re here to help you succeed, be the best, and find joy in your new role as a foster carer. Let us support you through your journey of becoming a foster carer with our professional support, high quality training, and foster care community.
We believe in the provision of safe, healthy environments through both short and long term placements, as well as in maintaining high quality care both for carers and foster children.
Whether your season as a foster carer is long or short, we believe in empowering you with valuable skills, knowledge, and experience so that you can be the very best. As an ambitious agency that seeks to change the lives of children and young adults, we believe in you and believe that, together, we can truly make a difference and impact these young lives for the better.
Start your fostering journey with Perpetual Fostering today. We care so that you can.
You may hear the term ‘volunteer’ thrown around a lot by adults and not know exactly what one is. A volunteer is a person who works for an organisation without being paid. Many people around the world are volunteers and help their community in various different ways, whether by helping out at a local youth club or taking part in a nature conservation group; whatever the activity, they all get involved in something that benefits others.
It’s easier than you think to become a volunteer and there will probably be lots of organisations in your area that you can get involved with. It’s very important though to know whether or not a volunteering placement is suitable for you. You may have to be a certain age to do a certain task so be careful and make sure you are very informed about all the details of the role before you start.
So you may be reading this thinking, “What kind of tasks could I do as a volunteer?”. There are lots of things you could do to make a difference in your community – check out a few ideas below:
- Plant flowers or trees in your local community
- Help clean up schools, youth centres or other buildings in your community
- Serve food at a homeless shelter (be careful with this one as you will need to check whether you’re old enough to work in a kitchen)
- Help at local wildlife conservation groups
- Help at charity fundraisers or local sporting events
Not only is volunteering a great way to help others and improve your local community, but it is also a brilliant opportunity to meet new people and develop new skills!
How to find information on being a volunteer:
- Ask in school – your teachers or careers advisor will probably be able to give you some information on volunteering
- In the library – lots of libraries have posters and leaflets from local organisations, a lot of which take on volunteers
- Youth clubs – if you attend any youth clubs there may be some posters or other information about volunteering and organisations you can volunteer for in your area
- Websites such as Volunteering England and the Volunteer Placements section on the Gov UK website.
At Perpetual Fostering we pride ourselves on the support our foster carers receive, but we also like to encourage our foster carers to give each other peer-to-peer support. This is why we have our monthly foster forum, so our carers can come together and share their experiences and understanding of foster care.
We may initiate the forums, but the participants determine the topic of each occasion. This is key, as forums are held specifically with the interests of foster carers in mind. No matter how supportive and experienced a social worker may be, they are not the ones directly facing the issues foster parents are confronted with everyday. We’re well aware that every experience is nuanced; as facilitators we endeavour to stay sensitive to that.
By having the monthly forum – this space in which you can freely interact with fellow carers – you are sharing your experiences with the people who have made similar choices in becoming a foster carers, just like you. They’re in exactly the same boat as you, and know what you’re going through. By sharing stories, receiving advice, and asking questions of other foster carers, you can learn and develop yourself.
Over the years, we’ve observed how these forums help promote and nurture a community spirit, which often leads to other group activities. There have been camping trips, Christmas parties, and sponsored walks. These events are a great way to reaffirm a sense of community among our carers, maintain friendships, and welcome new foster carers into the fold. All levels of experience and backgrounds are of course welcome: the outreach of foster carers into the area around them is only increased when backed by a community.
We also have a buddy and mentoring system, which allows for more experienced foster carers to have one-on-one time with newer foster parents. We also encourage our carers to gain national qualifications in mentoring, so as to be fully equipped to help their buddies, and so enrich the community.
For more information on our fostering community, visit this page or contact us via email or phone.
You may have noticed something last Friday, 16th January – we were only a little bit excited about it! Her Royal Highness, Kate Middleton, spent the day in North London, learning all about foster care experiences – both from parents involved and the children who benefit.
The Duchess, who is six months pregnant with her second child, made this her second official outing in as many days. She was highly motivated to learn as much as she could about all aspects of the fostering process, chatting with social workers, as well as a range of foster parents, throughout the day. She was also very happy to meet a toddler called Naya, comparing the six-month-old girl to her own child, jokingly describing the youngster as “even chubbier than George”.
She began her visit by meeting with a selection of ambassadors and foster carers, telling them: “I’ve heard a huge amount about fostering and it’s really great for me to have this opportunity to speak to you about it.” This was followed by a tea party, where she spent time with elderly foster parents – some of whom had cared for over 100 children.
As her visit drew to a close, the Duchess was presented with a “memory box” by her hosts – a book of stories and poems written by former foster children – so that her experiences that day would stay with her. Kate later admitted how much the experience moved her on a personal level.
At Perpetual Fostering, we’re delighted to see a member of the monarchy taking such an active interest in fostering, as well as the provision of care for children in need. Given our aim to increase fostering recruitment in this year, we couldn’t ask for a better example! We like to think it also demonstrates the rewards of support and a sense of community that hard-working foster carers deserve to enjoy.
Were you present during HRH’s visit to Highbury? If so, we’d love to hear from you – get in touch to share your experiences with us!
The Cumbria Women of the Year committee recently held its 25th annual presentation of the eponymous award. Earning her “countrywide recognition for [her] achievements” Doreen Beattie, a long-time resident of Kirkoswald, was celebrated for having dedicated the better part of her life “to caring for those most vulnerable, both children and the elderly”.
The Cumberland & Westmoreland Herald details her remarkable story:
“Having been abandoned by her mother, and subsequently growing up in an orphanage in Glasgow, Doreen became used to looking after others from the age of 12, when she was expected to rise at 5:30am to look after 17 under-nines, washing and dressing them. She trained as a nurse, making her well equipped to take on the demanding role of fostering. As well as bringing up her own two children, Doreen gave youngsters in her care the chance of a normal home life.”
The chairperson of the committee, Tess Hart, also details how Doreen had “given great strength to the families” she had helped. On top of caring in her domestic context, we also learn that she “played a big part in the community life of Kirkoswald”, providing plenty of “support, comfort and reassurance” to fellow residents of her village.
Later on in the article, her effectiveness as a carer is outlined by the success of one of the many children who had been in her care. A young adult, whom she initially helped as a “young boy with Asperger syndrome”, recounted how her support had been crucial in facilitating his journey, including gaining a BA:
“Without her, people would have given up on me, and I might be in an institution or worse. Doreen Beattie wanted to prove I wasn’t like the rest, I wasn’t going to be written off as unteachable, unable to get work or a career. I now have a respectable job, I got through my education, and I always remembered the advice she gave me. I owe my life to her.”
After retiring from her career as a foster carer, she has since gone on to become a carer for the elderly in her community – an apt transferral of her “special skills and dedication” to an equally commendable calling.
We hope this article demonstrates the immense value foster carers can and do create in their communities each and every day across the UK. Find out some of our own foster carer stories, or get in touch with us if you want to make a similar kind of difference in your own community.
Getting your relationship with a foster child just right can be challenging. Too much distance and you seem uncaring, but at the same time becoming overly-attached is also inappropriate. One great way to establish a rapport with the child is through accompanying them to fostering community events. It’s likely this is the kind of context that would place both of you on a level playing field with each other, as both of you may well be outsiders, not knowing anyone else in attendance.
As you learn during the recruitment process, one of your primary responsibilities as a foster carer is to ensure the child builds or continues to maintain social contacts, with the following points to concentrate on:
- Understand the value of contact with other children in foster care
- Encourage the child to make friends and socialise as much as possible
- Facilitate them building support networks through joining clubs or groups
- Motivate the child to reach their full potential
Community events are thereby ideal for fulfilling these necessities, as all of them can be facilitated by fosterers and children gathering in a social setting. This is reflected across society: without a surrounding community, all people – certainly not just foster children – tend to struggle. With this in mind, the experiences of a great number of foster children, who have struggled with isolation, should serve as examples going forwards.
By and large, these children don’t come from the most stable of family units. One consequence of this tends to present itself as a difficulty to place themselves in wider social groups and communities as they grow older – primarily because they never had a great start in this sense to begin with.
Added to this is the fact that many children are moved around frequently, and it becomes obvious how much greater the need for a sense of community really is amongst foster children – where before there may have been none.
So you see that your push to include a foster child in community events is a very significant step to breaking them out of the more problematic cycles of behaviour that unsuccessful placements are at risk of creating.