My name is Helen and I’m based at Blue Sky’s Portslade office working full time as Clinical Lead with the Therapeutically Led Care (TLC) team.
A typical working day for me would begin with me driving to the Blue Sky’s Swanwick office. I like having audiobooks when I’m in the car and at the moment, I'm listening to ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara, which is brilliant. It has lots of powerful writing and quotes about love and loss and attachment; about the terror of daring to love and trust again when you’ve been really hurt. I like being inspired and informed by literature and peoples’ stories. I use quotes in my writing and training to try to communicate what I think are really important and impactful ideas.
I’m a qualified psychotherapist and work mainly with the foster carers. Today, I helped them with their ‘Reflective Practice’. Together with the social workers, we looked at ways of connecting with their foster children and how they respond, emotionally, to the children and young people in their care. This helped them to understand their foster child’s feelings and what drives them to behave in certain ways. Life experience and our ability to empathise with our fellow humans helps with this, along with the theory side of things. These sessions are a great opportunity for me to learn and I really value that.
This morning, foster carers were in a group, talking about their feelings and how they’ve reacted to situations in the past. The session began with someone saying “I’m glad it’s not just me who thinks I’m struggling to understand my foster child”. Another joined in saying “I feel bad because I think to myself that a proper foster carer would know what to do and would never get angry or exhausted”. Everyone relaxed, chatted openly and formed a brilliant bond knowing they are not alone.
In the afternoon, I worked on a one-to-one basis with some foster children and then with their foster carers. This helps us to build a good, solid, working relationship. It enables me to support the foster carers, to let them know we understand the complex needs of the children in their care and make sure they know they are appreciated. Some children are very traumatised and these sessions help them and their carers to re-charge their batteries and help them all to feel they’re ‘back on track’.
The end of my working day
I drove home, without listening to my audiobook, preferring to reflect on my day. I am so privileged to work with the Blue Sky foster children and young people and their foster carers. I get to see the huge, positive, impact the foster carers have on the lives of some very damaged children. Their day to day support providing them with consistency, tolerance and emotional responsiveness, joined together with a warm, parenting, relationship, literally changes lives. These children come to us from very disjointed situations, often used to rejection, insecurity and unpredictability. Our (often very stubborn!) foster carers encourage them to trust and learn to love other people, whilst having lots of fun in the process.
This role suits me very well; there’s so much variety and interaction with foster carers and their foster children. I get to see them in the office during support group meetings and for training, I visit them in their homes, go on day trips with them and have fun and a laugh with them. I think a lot of our young people do feel part of a bigger family with Blue Sky – that as well as belonging in their foster family, they are part of a bigger group of adults who care about them and want their lives to go well and that is the most rewarding thing in the world.