Before the pandemic, I would see my sister often but since the pandemic happened it is becoming difficult because of the rules that the government have set into place because of lockdown.
The government has set rules during the lockdown to accommodate people who live alone, such as, being able to form 'bubbles' with other households.
They also set a rule to accommodate children who have divorced parents, meaning they are able to travel between the households.
But sadly, they did not consider any rule including a child in foster care and them being able to see their family members in a bubble.
The beginning of the pandemic was all very uncertain and at times, scary. It was not until October that we had proper contact again, we did not see her from the end of February until the end of September – 7 months! In February she had just turned 12, in September she was almost 13 (the reason only then was because of a wedding).
Although we had phone contact, it was listened to by the foster parent(s) and whoever else was around the time because it was on loudspeaker - made the conversation very strained, awkward and unnatural. My little sister wanted to be able to have our numbers to have private conversations as we do now.
It has always been via the foster parent when we see each other, and the lockdown rules and the changes it brings affect when we see each other. During these times, the Social Worker did not contact us or foster parents, leaving no clear guidelines.
Normally when seeing my sister, we arrange it at my older sisters’ home, she lives alone and my other older sister who also lives alone and would be a part of the contact. Even though two out of three of us live alone we are unable to continue this get-together in a private location.
With it being winter during the lockdown? it has been difficult to find a private location outside as it is raining and cold, so we normally relocate to a café outside of lockdown.
I feel that we are putting ourselves at more risk by meeting in a closed area such as a cafe other people linger from many different households than if we were to meet in at my sisters’ but because of the rules the government had put into place we are unable to do so.
While lockdown continues, we have found other ways to keep in contact by calling and using FaceTime. it has been nice being able to be in my sister’s life a little bit more with being able to see my little sister by a click of a button but as many know, it is not the same as being in person.
We found a way of helping each other through the loneliness and the boredom of lockdown, we joined together into making a world on Minecraft, it has been a lot of fun, building things together and being able to go on walks with each other, we built our own little community together including shops and homes, we even started to build a small neighbourhood.
With everything we have worked on to stay connected during these uncertain times, I still get the feeling like time is going by too fast and she is growing up we are missing out on seeing her grow.
In my eyes, nothing can replace being able to see someone with your own eyes, a person standing in front of you. Video chatting and voice calls will never be the same as in-person communication.
Children living in foster care and their families are very confusing– family, the child, social workers, foster parents. Provisions should have been put in place to consider such circumstances, so these people were not left with such uncertainty, especially for a long period of time.
There are so many children who are living in care in these uncertain times, many like us have contact with family members but are uncertain what there allowed to do and what they're not.
We need to have our voices heard and acknowledgement that we been heard, there have been so many new articles released and the government speaking out on what the schools, the public and employers can and cannot do but there has been nonspeaking about the people in care, their families, foster families or social workers at this time.