“Where are the crocus bulbs?” asked a delightful lady at the Wyevale Garden Centre in Taunton.
I looked at her blankly for a while, looking around at my information stand, decked with Blue Sky Fostering information packs, pens and other goodies.
Then, I realised the jumper I was wearing bore a striking resemblance to the polo tops worn by the staff team there.
“Oh, er, I’m sorry”, I replied, “I don’t work for Wyevale”.
I could see by her expression, this was not the answer the lady wanted!
“Let’s look together”, I suggested.
That was more like it! I was rewarded with a little pat on my arm.
We found the crocus bulbs and we began to chat about why I was at the garden centre that morning.
Foster carers needed - twenty years ago….
I’ve worked in fostering for nearly two decades. In the early days, it was easy to recruit foster carers. We’d just put a small advert in local newspapers and wait for the floodgates to open. Enquiries flew in from everywhere, from disengaged IT managers to people whose children had ‘flown the nest’ to prison officers and nurses and everyone in between, including, interestingly, a professional clown and a couple of local celebrities for good measure!
Well, nowadays, things are a little different, why is that? The need for foster carers is greater than ever as year on year, the number of children needing foster care rises. I’m sure there have been many studies on this very subject, but for me, the most important thing is to focus on breaking down myths and barriers to encourage people to become foster carers, not dwell on sad statistics. We need to be optimistic and ambitious.
We don’t need people to be ‘perfect’
We know fostering works; lives can be turned around, but how do we help people to understand they don’t need to be perfect. We don’t need ‘perfect’, our foster children don’t need ‘perfect’, our foster children need real people who have life experience, who have had ups and downs and faced challenges. Resilience, determination, patience and a genuine wish to help young people are the most important qualities.
Julia’s been thinking about fostering
As I explained all this to the lovely silver haired lady she shook her head, “I can’t do it now, dear, I’m caring for my husband, but I’ll take an information pack and show it to my daughter, Julia, she’s been talking about fostering for years but thought she wouldn’t be allowed to do it.”
“Why does she think she wouldn’t be allowed?” I asked
“Because she lives in a council flat” came the reply.
“That’s no barrier to your daughter becoming a foster carer, so long as her landlord is in agreement and there’s a spare bedroom in her flat, we’d love to chat with her”.
With a sparkly smile, our information pack in hand and a shopping trolley full of bulbs, the silver haired lady made her way to the checkout.
Hopefully, by the time those crocus bulbs fulfil their promise of colourful early spring flowers, Julia will be well on her way to fulfilling her wish to foster and helping children and young people bloom into confident, self-reliant, contented adults.
Our grateful thanks to the staff team at Wyevale Garden Centre in Taunton, for letting us pitch our information stand in your lovely centre. Everyone was so helpful and kind and it was great to meet your customers.
You could foster, too
If you would like to help disadvantaged children and young people reach their potential, please don’t counsel yourself out; count yourself in!