Foster Carer Talks. Fostering an environment of support

15th February, 2023

We were lucky enough to catch up with Capstone foster carer, Ben who has been fostering with Capstone for over ten years with his wife Shelley, to talk about their experiences and the ups and downs that comes from being foster carers.

Deciding to Foster

Both Ben and Shelley have always been in the business of helping others, and both remain in their roles with Ben working with young offenders while Shelley works with adults with learning disabilities. But what bought them to fostering when they both have fulfilling careers?

It was after seeing the plight of children affected by radiation poisoning in Belarus that gave the couple the motivation to want to do even more, and after ten years with Capstone they have not looked back.

“Capstone was very small when we first started.” Ben commented,

“We loved the family feel, there has been a lot of change in the last ten years but that feeling of togetherness has never been lost – that is why we are still here.”

 

Importance of Support Groups

Indeed, many things have changed in that time, however, one thing that hasn’t is that Ben and Shelley still use the carer support groups that Capstone provides for its carers.

Ben told us that the support groups have evolved over time as well. Ten years ago they were small unstructured affairs that gave carers an outlet to share experiences and get advice from their peers.

“The support groups are so vital in those early days. They remind you that you are not alone.”

Ben continues, “when you start as a foster carer you think that you can save the world, the support groups really do prop you up when the day-to-day realities begin to set in.”

Life as a Foster Carer

To this day there are four or five foster carers that Ben and Shelley still meet up with on a regular basis as a result of the support groups. They will meet up for a coffee and a chat, having shared experiences and someone who can empathise with current struggles is crucial. The other bonus is the opportunity for the foster children to mix as well, also giving them someone who relates to them.

Ben spoke about the various situations that you can be exposed to as a foster carer, the role is complex and challenging but seeing a child progress under your care is so rewarding.

We had to ask, with his level of experience, why continue to attend the support groups?

“Now it is my time to pay it forward. Now it is us that can offer that all important support and guidance to new foster carers.”

And like Ben and Shelley’s experiences, the support groups have evolved becoming more structured, now with agendas and opportunities for feedback, and business updates which Ben and Shelley find useful.

In a post COVID world, Ben and Shelley are happy to see the return of face-to-face support.

Advice for Potential Foster Carers

The road you take when you become a foster carer is not always an easy one, and the system can feel like it is working against you. Ben advises to hold tight to your values, to remember why you set out on a fostering journey in the first place.

He tells that it is important to follow the guidelines and use every opportunity of the support offered, lean on your support groups, and always ask your Supervising Social Worker any questions that you have.

“You need to prepare yourself as best you can, you will be a changed person for fostering. It is a humbling experience.”

Another thing that Ben was keen to talk about was the positive effects that fostering has had on his and Shelley’s own children, they have grown to be kinder, more empathetic and emotionally mature adults.

“We have found that we have been able to adopt a more therapeutic approach in all of our parenting, and all of our children are the better for it.”

 

If Ben and Shelley’s powerful words have resonated with you and you are ready to take the next step of your fostering journey with a supportive agency then give one of our friendly advisors a call today on 0800 012 4004.

Thinking of fostering?

If you’ve got any questions or would like to find out more about fostering with Capstone, fill out the form below.
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