Phil and Callum* - fostering with the Together Trust
Phil and Cullum have been fostering with us for over seven years ago and have cared for about 20 children. They spoke to us about celebrating diversity and the joys of fostering.
We currently have three children placed with us, a 10-year-old, a 12-year-old with autism and learning difficulties and a 13-year-old.
I used to work for the Together Trust in their residential homes, and we wanted children so we thought why not give fostering a try. There was loads of information available to us and our social worker was great, he was really open and honest about everything.
The assessment process took a bit longer than we wanted because we weren’t living together at the time. Callum was in the Wirral and I was in Manchester, so it took 12-14 months. Callum was in the process of moving for a new job and once he’d moved it was a lot quicker.
We felt prepared for everything, and there was nothing that was as worrying as we’d expected - everyone was approachable. You do feel a bit like you’re going for a job interview because you don’t know what they’re looking for or what you’re going to be asked.
We’ve fostered children who come from different cultural backgrounds to us. People assume that because you’re white you’re only going to foster white children. We’ve never seen it like that.
Children from difficult circumstances need someone to look after them. One of our boys came to us as a short-term placement and ended up being moved to another placement that was long-term. He’s experienced a lot of loss - his mum, dad, older and younger brother – and this was his ninth foster placement. When the placement broke down his social worker called and asked if we would care for him again. We were thrilled, we didn’t want him to leave in the first place.
The best thing about being a foster carer is all the ‘firsts’. We have this sort of treasure chest of happy memories, of all the things we’ve done with the children. From going abroad and going to the beach to Christmas. When our eldest boy came to us he’d never had a Christmas. You forget that it can be overwhelming for them as well. He used to have lots of outbursts but now he really looks forward to it and enjoys it. When he first came to us he wasn’t doing well at school, now he’s top of his year group and above average with all his targets. Our little girl has autism so she was quite overwhelmed at her first Christmas, but she coped with it really well.
The Together Trust have been so supportive of us. Our eldest was struggling with his cultural identity, but he’s had support from the Together Trust’s cultural support worker and has been encouraged to be part of the young people’s forum. Our supervising social worker has given up her holidays and all sorts to come to meetings with us. She goes above and beyond her duty as a social worker, and we can always contact the team or the on-call social worker if we need to.
I think fostering is one of the best things you can do. Anyone who thinks they can just breeze into it…it’s not that simple, but it’s rewarding and worthwhile. You can always try doing respite or emergency placements instead of doing long-term straight away. Anyone who thinks they can give a child a home and love them like their own should try it.
Foster children come in all shapes and sizes, so do our foster carers! It doesn’t matter where you are on your fostering journey, we'd love to talk to you