21st February, 2020
I found myself in foster care when I was younger, and as a result met an array of people, from foster carers to social workers and while my experiences with these people differed, I knew when I was older, I wanted to make a difference.
It took one person to make a difference to my life, they supported me and helped me to change and it got me to wondering what I could do to be that ‘one’ to change someone else’s life.
At the age of 25, 8 years ago, I became a residential support worker. Prior to this I had various jobs, but nothing that had felt right.
As I grew in my role as a support worker, I began to take on more senior roles and supported others with their training and professional development. I had an interest in the care sector and now apply myself to different roles supporting looked after children.
I used my experience of being in care to offer an insight that wouldn’t usually be so freely shared with my peers. And while I shared part of myself there were still parts that were too private to talk about however, I was able to offer a different perspective, a listening ear and offer advice and encourage mindfulness and assess the impact of some behaviours that could be trigger certain emotions in children in care.
I am able to sit around a table speaking about a child and their progress or difficulties and can relate to some circumstances, understand barriers differently, then use my motivation and understanding to advocate for that young person who feels left behind and lost, because after all that was me once.
I look back at my own experience and think ‘did I feel safe?’, ‘did I feel wanted?’, ‘did I want to invest in all these people claiming to care for my welfare?’ and ‘was school enjoyable for me when my mind was full of unanswered questions about what was going to happen next?’. Building that self-awareness has been really important for me, so now I always encourage this for others.
When you experience being in care you can develop the ability to read people well. I apply this in my role on fostering panels now where I have a voice in approving people to become foster carers. When I read the information about families applying to become carers, my focus is always on the motivation. I enjoy meeting potential foster families face to face because meeting them first-hand can also tell you a lot about someone. I sit and think to myself, ‘would I like to live with that person or family?’.
Fostering can be hard and I know at times it can be a challenge, so I look for resilience in carers. Sometimes the turn around is right after the challenge, so I always encourage people to think outside the box and persevere where possible. I would not be where I am now had I not of had my life and the experiences that came with it.
As an adult, who works with children in care my main motivation is to instil them with hope for a future, hope for the now and hope that others keep the faith in them. I had someone instil hope in me and look where I am now?