Meet Amanda, who became a full-time foster carer with The Fostering Company when she was made redundant from her career of more than a decade after Virgin Media closed its Gateshead office.
Parents to two of their own children, seven-year-old Ella and ten-year-old Charlie, fostering had been something Amanda and her partner, James, 39, had been considering since their son was first born but never felt like it was the right time.
As their children grew older, Amanda worked shifts and also had a side job with a health and wellness business, Forever Living, and would regularly attend job fairs at the weekend in Newcastle. It was there where she met a social worker and foster carer who works and fosters with the us at the Fostering Company.
“James and I always talked about fostering ever since Charlie was born. My mum’s best friend fostered her niece when I was younger, so I had been exposed to fostering from a very young age and always knew it was something I wanted to do later in life. But once we had our daughter and James and I were so busy and happy in our careers and raising two young children, fostering didn’t feel right at the time.
“Fast forward years later and I was made redundant from my job. I had no idea what I was going to do and felt completely lost. Sure enough, timing has a funny way of working things out and I was introduced to the Fostering Company a week later, and the rest is history. It was meant to be.”
After being approved as foster carers in 2018, the couple have been fostering for over four years and are currently caring for three young siblings, Connor*, Emily* and Rebecca* on a short-term basis.
“When we started the fostering process, we noted down in our application that we could foster anyone including groups of brothers and sisters as there are so many cases where siblings are often separated from one another and live in different homes. Since we started fostering, we’ve only looked after groups of siblings, a total of 11 children, and although it’s been challenging at times, keeping them together is so important for us. It’s also important to show our own children that when the going gets tough, you will always have your brother or sister to lean back on when you need them most.”
“I think there’s this idea that you need to have a child-minding background or something similar to become a foster carer and it’s just not true. You go through pretty rigorous training to become a foster carer from learning about safeguarding to understanding trauma, but you’ll find some of the things you did in your old job, like having routines and supporting people from a range of different backgrounds, will come in handy when you start fostering.
“Having said that, fostering isn’t for everyone. You need to provide a loving and safe home, but most importantly you need to be there for the late-night cuddles and always be there to listen. Love and someone to listen to is the only thing these youngsters want, they don’t ask for anything else. So, if you can give that, you can really make a difference to a child’s life.”