My first experience of the fostering world was when I was 21 years old. I started as a Business Admin Apprentice for Real Fostering in June 2013. Real Fostering was a small independent fostering agency, which was acquired by Capstone Foster Care six months after I started. As a result, I found myself being employed by Capstone and eventually was successful in becoming the Panel Co-ordinator for the Midlands region working at the Kings Norton office.
I stayed in this role for the next three years and during this time, I started to consider my future career prospects and decided that I wanted to consider social work as my career path.
Being part of the panel and the influence of other social workers at Capstone motivated me to want to become a social worker. Listening to their experiences made me want to have more of a positive impact on young people’s lives.
At this point, I started to consider my options however, I still had a bit of work to do. I didn’t have the qualifications required to get into University, so I looked into night school to get my Maths GCSE. For the next 12 months I attended class and passed my GCSE which then enabled me to apply for University in Worcester.
After passing my exams and being accepted into my chosen University I left Capstone in September 2016 to start my BA Honours Degree in Social Work. To gain additional experience before starting my degree Sara, the regional director for Capstone (Midlands) gave me the opportunity to shadow the social workers, attend meetings with looked after children, attend Pupil Education Plans, observe senior practitioners, offer support to carers and support with organising the children’s events.
Looking back now I feel really grateful to have been given these opportunities as it really helped me gain an insight. Transitioning into University I felt I had the confidence and knowledge about fostering that made me feel insightful when speaking about the foster carers roles with peers during group discussions.
During my degree I also took on a job at a local children’s home accommodating four children. This was an opportunity for me to work with children directly and gain further insight from a child’s perspective. For me it was a real eye opening experience, especially when working with safeguarding issues. I felt it encouraged me to keep my perspective throughout the course as I had witnessed the affects that neglect and abuse can have on some children during infancy and impacting them as they grow older.
After three years of hard work and two placements in different teams, Young Carers and Safeguarding, I graduated from the University of Worcester in October 2019. I am now a qualified and practicing social worker as part of a local authority safeguarding team.
My current role is to work with young people who are placed on a Child Protection or Child in Need plan. My role is to offer the families I work with support, complete direct work with children and young people assessing risk and potential harm.
I feel appreciative of everything that Capstone has done for me in my life and my time with them. I feel the personal growth and journey I have had from when I first arrived at 21 years old to now has been unexpected and I feel the opportunities given to me by Capstone have supported me to achieve what I have up to now.
Being at Capstone and having the insight into the world of fostering encouraged me to believe in myself and motivated me to push myself to achieve more for myself to help others.
As well as giving thanks to Capstone, I will take some credit. I feel very proud of myself for persevering when I failed exams, did a full day at the office then went to night school for a further three hours. I have never really had a significant interest in anything career wise but my experience at Capstone as I went through my early 20’s motivated and encouraged me to want to do better for myself, and also the children entering the care system and in need of protection.