On the 29th November three of our team swapped their beds for sleeping bags to raise funds for the youth homeless charity Centrepoint. Sleep Out is Centrepoint’s flagship annual event, taking over the unheated Victoria Baths.

Sleep Out doesn’t aim to replicate what it’s like to be homeless, but it does give you an insight into the challenges faced by homeless young people: the biting cold; the lack of control; and the struggle to carry on with the next day on minimal sleep. Everyone who took part had a fundraising challenge to reach over £350 each.

Funds raised will support Centrepoint’s work in Greater Manchester. The charity began working in the region earlier this year, supporting 2,000 young people each year. Centrepoint provides practical support and advice for those at risk of homelessness, and helps young people to turn their lives around by gaining essential life skills, tackling physical and mental health issues and moving into education or employment.

The night started so well as the team arrived around 7.30pm and were provided with a nice warm meal followed by entertainment for the night.

Sharon, Jo and Sam found out more about Centrepoint and how they tackle youth homelessness and the effects it can have on the young people who have to cope with it daily.

The team took part in workshops about the work Centrepoint undertake and even had a bed time poem read to them from Louise Wallwein MBE. Louise was brought up in 13 different children homes and wrote her first play aged just 17. At 11.30pm it was time for bed and the temperatures began to plummet.

They had only taken a sleeping bag, minimal layers and a roll mat. Lights out happened at 12pm and they felt utterly disorientated once the darkness swept over them. Sleep seemed to elude the whole room with people turning and squirming on the cold marble floors. There was a great sense of vulnerability however, the crucial difference was normality was only a few hours away which is a far cry from those sleeping rough on the streets of Manchester every day.

By 6am the majority of the room began to stir, and the Capstone team all awoke feeling achy, tired and grumpy but this is all part of the unique experience of Sleep Out! Every day, thousands of people have to get through long days of work or learning, having spent the night sleeping outside or in a dangerous place.

The great news is our team from Capstone Foster Care managed to pass the target and raised £1,150.16 towards the fantastic work Centrepoint achieves. We’re thrilled to also say that the fundraising total so far from the night is £65,937!

Hi my name is Steve Baker and many years ago Carole my wife and I spoke about becoming foster carers but unfortunately we ran our own business and the time never seemed to be right.

In 2013 things changed and we went through the Fostering process and became Foster carers in 2014.

In 2017 I contacted Route1 independent visitors to find out how to become a volunteer for a young person, I attended the training which was 45 hours in total and this was held in Frome, whilst i was doing the training i felt that all the courses we had done whilst going through the Fostering process really helped.

I looked into the volunteering by reading up on the internet and thought that it would be nice to offer some of my time to a young person.

I have been with a young person now for several months and I see him once a week, I like to see him once a week as I feel if you leave it too long between times, it is hard to make a good bond with the young person. As everything, relationships are built on trust. I pick up the young person from school then drop him back to his carers after a few hours.

Fostering is very similar to being a volunteer but with the fostering its 24 hours a day and over time you build the trust element a lot quicker, being a volunteer you only see the young person once a week so it takes a lot longer. I feel the most important thing what ever you do is to be consistent and just be there to listen if they ever need you.

Route1 are very organised and the training programme was excellent, I am currently mentoring a 10 year old boy who loves life, he enjoys sports and is very intelligent to talk to. I enjoy taking him out, and its nice for him to build up a relationship with me and know he has got someone he can put his trust in if he chooses to do so.

I think that mentoring is very rewarding and i think people should look into it if they have the time to spare. I have read many stories of how mentors have made a difference to young looked after children lives, and what they have achieved, if I can offer this to my young person and help them along the way to reach some of those goals then I think my time spent is invaluable and makes it all worthwhile.

Capstone would like to thank Steve and show our appreciation for being a fantastic Foster Carer and Volunteer in the community. If you feel inspired by Steve’s story and would like more information about fostering click here. Or would like to recognise and get involved in fostering your community find out more here.

‘Our First Year with Capstone’ A story from Capstone Devon carers –

We are 7 weeks from being approved at panel. I am beginning to wonder if we will ever ‘start’ our fostering journey. And then on the way back from a weekend away we pick up a message on the phone. We have been out of signal. There is an emergency need. We discuss and ring back. We offer our spare bed. For us this feels easier than reading a profile. There are no complications to interpret, worry about and plan for. There is just a need, and space in our house.

After early morning phone calls, and discussions between us all to iron out the finer details of timings and a welcome, I arrive back home from work to a 9 year-old boy, eating Walker’s crisps, on our settee. Chit chat and bandana (never worn since).

So fast forward. Our 4 day emergency respite has turned into a year – less 6 weeks, a final court decision reached and a very big possibility that we are going to house and home a boy- who will become a teenager and into independence, and as there was no matching process – due to the original requirement being respite – in place this ‘match’ seems too good to be true.

In so many ways this is right. In so many ways we are faced with the unexpected (we thought short term and emergency would suit us best!) and in so many ways we have been sent a gift – in terms of school attendance, a curiosity for life, a desire for learning, an open-ness to try activities that are offered and a ‘fit’ with so many of our friends and life that we were already living.

In a few weeks’ time we will be going on a short break in a caravan – with the same family that we were away with when we received that first message, and so life goes on, the wheels keep turning and the loops of coincidence and meaning keep being drawn and closed, whilst many others are opened and new adventures await.

So here we are – 6 school holidays later after saying yes to the request for a 4 night break. The reasons why, the delays, the waiting game are all another story. The new places, professionals and challenges that you meet on the way as foster carers are too many to list. The people, the words and the paperwork are sometimes from ‘another dimension’. But it is this rich and varied tapestry of life that we wanted to become more

deeply involved with, as we have the luxury of time and positive intention to offer.

The only thing we can say to others waiting – at whatever stage, assessment, placement, legal decision, matching, and for panel reviews and the dreaded TSD work book – however long that wait is……. Do it!

Looking back; it feels like no time at all, the blink of an eye. It is worth the wait. As one friend of mine commented recently.” having signed up to support many young people for a short time, you now have the chance to really make a difference with one, for a very long time”.

Can you stay open hearted and open minded to that sort of change? Do you want to support a child right now; with whatever they bring to you?

You are reading this. Something has already sparked in you. Fan the flames.

Give it a go.

Foster with Capstone.

I did ….and I was decades waiting for the chance.

In all you do I wish you well.

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