Foster Care Fortnight
Foster Care Fortnight
Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington Councils are working together to recruit more foster carers across Cheshire.
Do something incredible.
Nichola and Gary
babies and children
Nichola and Gary Wood, both aged 35, have been fostering for five years.
"Our own children were growing but still felt we had more to give, plus my job at the time was a nursery assistant so I knew I loved that role of looking after children. I love watching them progress in confidence and self-esteem, and the feeling of pride when their relationship positively develops, it is such a rewarding role.
We have cared for new born babies who have been withdrawing from drugs, children who have suffered neglect, physical abuse, and children with special and complex needs including foetal alcohol syndrome. All these have been challenging at times, but this has been overcome by the support of my social worker and the county council's fostering team who are always at the end of the phone.
We both worked and were worried that this would be a barrier, but as long as you have flexibility with your work place it is not an issue. Also because we don’t drive, we thought this may have stopped us, but it just meant we used public transport for meetings, contact and any medical appointments.
We have always had a very good relationship with birth families, this is evident in that the children we have looked after that have returned to their families keep in touch. Also the last little boy we fostered for over two years got adopted to a lovely family, who still keep in touch with us and we are invited to celebrate special times with them."
Louise lives in Stockport, Greater Manchester. She has been a foster carer for seven years. After a career in nightclub management and time spent as a sale manager she decided that she needed to do something with her life that was more aligned with her personal values.
“I really enjoy mentoring people, in every job I’ve ever had. I love watching people develop. And with that in mind I thought I’d give fostering a go.”
Seven years later Louise has a wealth of experience and stories and has developed a remarkable ability to relate to the young people in her care.
“The teenage years are complex at the best of times, they need stability. I remember when we started to foster young people we got an emergency call to look after a teenager for a couple of days. She stayed with us for thirteen months. In that time I learned so much and discovered that teenagers really were my niche. It might be because I feel I can relate to them so much.”
When pressed about the secret of being a successful carer Louise is certain of a few things.
“It’s all about listening,” she says. “I learnt pretty quickly that you don’t build a strong relationship by talking at children. You need to listen. If you do that eventually they’ll start opening up and you can build a real relationship that will pay dividends when you start to see their true identity develop and they really start to believe in themselves.”
And does she have any advice for anyone interested in becoming a foster carer?
“Oh yes, expect the unexpected, be able to laugh at yourself and don’t take things too seriously. With that in mind you can genuinely make a difference in the life of a young person.”