#ProudToFoster – Jim
I’m Jim. I’m currently finishing my PhD in plant science and I’ve been fostering for 2 years along with my wife and two young sons. A few years back, I’d been commuting from Essex to the City for 10 years. But it wasn’t really doing it for me. I wanted to do something more meaningful. So I discussed it with my wife, and we decided to change our focus. This period coincided with a deepening of the refugee crisis and the insurgency in Syria. My wife worked in fostering and did direct work with a variety of children including child refugees. We both felt pretty strongly that we wanted to help the situation in some way. But we wanted it to be more permanent than writing a cheque to an aid agency. Fostering seemed obvious, given where she worked, but it clearly meant a significant, long-term commitment.
To be honest, I didn’t have a clue about how fostering worked. I thought that you just had a child given to you, and you had no choice in the matter. But we arranged for a home visit from Eastern Fostering Services. We were able to ask questions that helped us to understand how things worked.And we got to think about what child might work best for our family and play to our strengths. At this time, I was doing GCSE and A-level tutoring to supplement my tiny student stipend, and I discovered to my surprise that I really enjoyed working with teens. I’d also been a rugby coach for a while for primary school age children, and had enjoyed this too. Apparently, this was the sort of experience that would transfer nicely to fostering! Who knew?
So we were accepted as foster carers, and then we had a nervous wait for our first child. Finally, in the summer of 2016 our 14 year-old foster son arrived. There have definitely been challenges and many times I’ve wondered what we’ve got ourselves into. But I can’t deny the sense of responsibility I feel for the child who has no-one else to rely on. It’s great that he’s settled in to school and is trying to make the most of the opportunities offered there.
My wife is the main carer but fostering is a family effort and we’ve all had our part to play. I’ve particularly enjoyed supporting our child in his education, doing homework with him, encouraging him and teaching him skills from fixing up his bicycle to helping him earn a bit of money washing cars.
There are always ups and downs in fostering, as with any relationship. We’ve made this choice because both my wife and I firmly believe that you can make a difference to the world around you through the decisions you make. And that perhaps the greatest way you can do this is by making a difference in the life of a child. It’s this belief that motivates us.
If you’re considering fostering, I have two bits of advice for you. The first is to take your time. Discuss everything with your family – your partner, your children and so on, as everyone has to feel part of the process. You’ll probably also want to talk to others who you might rely on – parents, local friends and so on. Second, get the right provider. It was a surprise to me, but it turns out that local councils aren’t the only providers of foster care. There are also private companies out there who find foster carers and organise fostering arrangements with the Local Authority. Our fostering experience has been massively improved by the fantastic support we’ve received from Eastern Fostering Services. They’ve organised training courses, regular support meetings, respite care and all sorts. They’re always supportive and will go the extra mile to help.
So, go and meet the team from Eastern Fostering Services. They have plenty of events where you can pop along for a chat. In May alone there are events at Ipswich on 17th and Colchester on 18th. Alternatively email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.View other peoples stories