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How I Got Into Being A Foster Carer

Hi, we are a couple from Reading who have recently become foster carers I am Alan and my wife is Sue.

Becoming a foster carer was not something I had ever considered before, as I had a career as a plasterer for most of my adult life. Sue on the other hand had talked about fostering at various points in our married life, but never really taken it a step further, thinking that we wouldn’t be qualified to do the job and wondering how it would all fit in with our own children.

It really started when I was made redundant. After nearly 10 years in the same job it came out of the blue and I left the company I was working at, never to go back. I worked for myself for a while but with the recession, this didn’t pan out as I had hoped. We had had two boys of our own and I had done the usual things like a bit of football coaching and had recently started helping out with the Scouts. Sue had done some childminding when the boys were small but now had a part time job in the local supermarket.

Coming out of the Job Centre one day I saw this advert on the back of a bus which said ‘Have you thought of becoming a foster carer?’ Well no I hadn’t, but it got me thinking. We looked around at all sorts of organisations including the local authority, the voluntary and private sector but one company stood out and we had no hesitation in plumping for that one.

They couldn’t have been more helpful and even though they are a national company they had an office quite near to where we live. We initially met one of their social workers and very soon we were invited to go along to a ’skills to foster’ course which proved to be a real eye opener. We found out about the type of children we could expect to foster and how children would only be placed with us if their needs and our family situation matched, but it helped Sue and I decided that this would work for us at this time in our lives. We decided to go through with the assessment process and 6 months later we were approved as foster carers.

We started out doing some respite care over weekends and for the odd week, but very quickly a 12 year old boy needed fostering and he came to live with us. Since then we have fostered 6 children and have got so much out of it. The rewards are fantastic, not just financial but the feeling of doing something meaningful and worth while beats any other job I have had. We now have a sibling group of 3 children placed with us and Sue has also given up work so now we are both full time foster carers.

We have the usual ups and downs that all families have but to see a young person’s confidence and self esteem grow, to watch them experience and try new things and enjoy family life makes a big difference to our lives too.

South African born Keith has lived in the south of England for most of his life. After graduating from University with a degree in Business Information Systems Management he decided to start Strawberrysoup a website design company based in West Sussex and Dorset. Keith successfully gained entry into the Southampton University Air Squadron and spent over 12 months training to fly. Since then he has continued to follow his interest in flying and has now began his own training in the form of a Private Pilot’s Licence. Keith also spent 13 months working within the Image and Printing Group at Hewlett Packard in Bracknell. Throughout his time there, he was responsible for many activities including events organisation and website design and maintenance.

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