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Mel and Shelly’s story

Mel & I, Shell, have been fortunate enough to be GLF foster carers since September 2018.

We feel extremely privileged to be GLF foster carers and to be in a position whereby we can empower and equip our most vulnerable children in our communities to live a happier life; to demonstrate how worthy they are and to provide them with the opportunity to separate their negative experiences from their true potential.

Mel and I fully believe in the acronym, CARE, and every single decision we make is centered around what CARE means to us as carers and as parents who have four children.

C stands for Compassion. Compassion for self and others. It is extremely difficult to provide compassion to others if our own self-talk is not compassionate. We live in a very fast paced society where we are constantly under so much pressure to perform, to be the very best and to be competitive. Teaching our children to be kinder to self and to others allows us to create a deeper self-worth, which is the bedrock for happiness.

A stands for affirmation. Affirmation to self and others. We find that self-affirmations help us to build our self-confidence and our ability to challenge ourselves and step out of our comfort zone. For us to secure a different result, we must take the risk to explore other behaviours and be more receptive to try new experiences. Affirming others also help us to create deeper connections with others.

R stands for Reflection. Mel and I have learnt that if we can encourage our children to create a space to pause and reflect, they take more responsibility for their desired outcomes or their decisions; they start to base their decisions that involves empathy and seeing that it is not always about the I, but the WE. Taking the time to be grateful for what you have or have achieved, as opposed to what you do not have or have not achieved makes a huge difference to how you navigate through life.

E stands for Enthusiasm. The enthusiasm to live life fully; to take an active approach to life and not to be a spectator of life. Screen time is a good indicator of whether we are participants or spectators of life. The enthusiasm to take on developmental feedback so you can self-improve; the enthusiasm to try new experiences. Having the right food, rest and life-style has a significant impact on how enthusiastic we approach life.

In summary, all the activities we engage our foster children in and the approach we take is hugely influenced by C.A.R.E.

Our foster children have all been receptive to a wide range of character, emotional intelligence and well-being bolstering interventions, such as baking cakes for a charity called Free Cakes For Kids; attending gardening sessions at Edible London; well-being days at Dalston Eastern Curve Gardens; Social Action Projects that raise money for a charity that promotes sustainable income in Pakistan; YMCA after school clubs; weekend drama classes; Communities that come together for Iftar.

Mel and I constantly search for these opportunities, especially ones that are free, as we want our foster children to see just how much there is out there. We also convey this to the natural birth parents, when appropriate.

We feel extremely fortunate that our values and approach is aligned with GLF, our incredible Supervising Social Worker, and the training and development opportunities GLF offer throughout the year.

 

Mel and Shelly are GLF foster carers.

Get in touch with Louise or James on 0208 347 8741  if you’d like to find out how you can become a foster carer

Fostering – What’s Stopping You?

The decision to become a foster carer isn’t an easy one to make. Fostering will have an impact on not only the child in care, but your life and your family’s life too. There’s a lot to think about so it’s natural to have concerns. Every day I talk to people who are interested in fostering and there seems to be a certain level of reluctance to ask certain questions. Maybe they think it’s cheeky to ask about money? Maybe they don’t want to appear like they couldn’t manage if they were to foster.

How will your family feel about sharing their home with someone they don’t know? How will you fit in the endless meetings, contact and school-run alongside your own career? What if the child you foster doesn’t like you? There is a lot to think about. So let’s talk about what’s stopping you from fostering…

Money, money, money  

Feel like money could be a problem? Nobody fosters for the money, but the extra income you get a carer certainly helps. Part of the decision to foster should be to consider how it will affect the level of income you’ll be receiving. It might be the case that you decide to reduce your contract, to work part time. Foster carers should be financially stable without the fostering allowance. That’s why many of our carers continue to work part time or full time.

Think you can’t foster because you work? Ultimately, we ask that our carers are financially stable without the fostering allowance they receive. A lot of our foster carers continue to work, either full time or part time. It’s just important that you have a support network of family and friends who can help you.

Help (I need somebody)

Feel like you won’t be able to manage on your own? The short answer is we don’t expect you to! When you become a foster carer, you will be assigned a social worker, who will support you throughout your fostering experience. GLF also runs regular support groups and training courses.

You might be worrying about whether you meet our requirements. When it comes to the things that are a definite ‘no, you can’t foster’, there aren’t as many as you might think.

Whats love got to do with it?

Think you can’t foster because you’re not in a relationship? You don’t have to be in a couple to foster. You can be married, in a long term relationship or single. Families come in all shapes and sizes, so you won’t be judged for the size of yours.

Think you can’t foster because you’re gay? It doesn’t matter if you are gay, lesbian, trans-gender or heterosexual. We live in a diverse culture and we want this to be reflected in our fostering community. Your sexuality really doesn’t matter to us. What’s important is the experience and support you can bring to your role as a foster carer.

Think you can’t foster because you’re too old or too young? You can become a foster carer if you are over 21 years old and there is no upper age limit. As long as you are fit and able enough to look after children, then you can foster.

There are thousands of children needing foster families. These children come from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures, religions. We need foster carers to reflect this diversity. So, regardless of your age, ethnicity, employment or relationship status and as long as you have a spare room and the time, the reality is you could probably foster.

If you are thinking about it then get in touch, ask a question, start the journey. We’re ready and waiting for your questions!

Louise is a recruitment officer at Greater London Fostering.

Men Who Foster

Hello, my name is Asrat, I’m a male foster carer, when I became a carer I told my youngest brother about it and he said to me, when he thinks of fostering, older women or elderly retired couple come to his mind but he never thought younger single men would be interested or involved.

I think these sorts of views are expressed because it’s mistakenly believed that women are best suited to handle the challenges of fostering and naturally more caring than men. I believe men are equally capable of handling challenges and can be caring as well.

As a male foster carer since 2013 I have had challenging times which I have managed well and have also been providing very good care to my young person in care.

“Rewards and challenges are part and parcel of fostering”

I used to work at my local council before I became a foster carer. That is where I got involved with the council’s fostering office working with unaccompanied asylum seekers from different parts of the world. I came to know about fostering there and had a chance to work with some social workers. It was fulfilling and satisfying being able to help others. I decided to be a full time foster carer and opened my doors to a child to give him a warm and friendly home. Fostering is rewarding when I see the positive differences I made in a child’s life after he had stayed with me.  And it can also be challenging when a child, for different reasons doesn’t want to engage with me and refuses to be helped.

“My supervising social worker is a phone call away for any query I may have.”

Rewards and challenges are part and parcel of fostering. Fostering in my opinion is a noble profession because it involves shaping a child’s life into becoming a productive and successful citizen. It requires resilience and lots of patience. Thankfully I have GLF’s full support whenever I need it. I have been getting relevant training and my supervising social worker is a phone call away for any query I may have.

All in all, my fostering journey since 2013 has taught me some valuable lessons. I have learned to be more patient and understanding.  If there are any men out there wondering about fostering, I encourage you to consider it seriously, you will not be disappointed.