Ryan Aves reckons he ‘hit the jackpot’ when he walked through the door of Ana and Haydn Price.
“They’re the best thing that could have happened to me,” said the 18-year-old who was placed into care at the age of 10 along with his younger brother when they both needed a foster home.
The pair arrived at the Prices’ home in Hucclecote via a placement with Community Foster Care.
“I’d had two foster homes in six months. Then one day my social worker picked me up from school and said I was going to a new placement. It was scary and the nerves kicked in – I was afraid of everything,” said Ryan, now 6ft 4in tall and a towering version of his 10-year-old self.
“I wasn’t very well-behaved, especially in supermarkets. I had eczema. I didn’t wash. I got bullied at school. All I wanted to eat was chips and takeaways.
“I was afraid of the dark, of falling down the stairs, of falling up the stairs. I followed Haydn everywhere because I thought he might leave me. I used to wander around the house at night, just worried.
“After about five weeks I began to sleep properly and woke up one morning thinking ‘I could get used to this’.
“I started to try different foods and took small steps every day. It got better and better.
“Now I think my life here has been absolutely fantastic – I got very lucky.
“I’ve been looked after by nice carers – they are the best ever. I’m not saying that I don’t love my mum, but after eight years with Haydn and Ana, they are the best thing that happened to me.”
When Ryan’s 18th birthday came along in November 2016, and after much discussion with Haydn, Ana and Community Foster Care, he opted to stay with the Prices on the Staying Put scheme which enables cared-for children to remain with their long-term carers on an independent living basis.
Now he is studying for GCSEs at Gloucestershire College. He gets up at 6am each day to muck out the family horse Henry, before cycling from Hucclecote to Cheltenham and back.
He has no doubt that fostering transformed his life. Not only is he settled and happy, he has a wide support network made up of Ana and Haydn’s relatives, the team at Community Foster Care, and friends made at CFC’s regular social events for foster families and children. He sits on CFC’s Student Forum which acts as a sounding board for cared-for children.
“From the moment I came into care, I’ve had the best two people in the world to look after me. I’ve been able to do anything - climb trees, go cycling, running, playing golf.
“I’ve had my ups and downs, but these two have turned me round and put me on the right road.”
His message to other children who face the fears that entering the care system inevitably bring is simple: “Don’t be nervous. Relax. You will be loved. You will be happy.”
The BBC came to Team Fostering's Sheffield office in January 2017 to film part of a documentary about care leavers.
They wanted to film Scott King, who himself is a former looked after young person, as he delivered his 'Child's World' training to our carers and staff. Child's World is Scott's personal narrative about his time growing up in care.
Watch the full documentary here
An article has been published in the Guardian newspaper talking about our work with unaccompanied asylum seeking children and how we support them to settle into life in the UK.
The journalist first came to visit a 16+ service to talk to staff about the activities we plan for both UASC and young people from the UK so they can get to know each other. Young people then shared their stories of living with St Christopher's too and talked about bonding through cooking meals from their own cultures for one another.
She then went to watch one of the St Christopher's All Blacks football games. The team is made up of young people from all over the world who have bonded through their love of the sport.
The article is available in print and online by clicking here.
Jessica Kingsley is publishing a "much-needed" new book for Foster Care Fortnight, to "demystify the experience for potential new foster parents".
Supported by TACT, a fostering and adoption charity, and to be accompanied by a wide marketing and publicity campaign, Welcome to Fostering will publish at the start of Foster Care Fortnight on 8th May.
Featuring a foreword by Lorraine Pascale, who draws on her own experiences of being fostered as a child, the book is edited by Andy Elvin, c.e.o. of TACT, and Martin Barrow, formerly news editor of The Times and an experienced foster carer himself.
According to the publisher, Welcome to Fostering is the "first book to explain what fostering is really like" and combines advice from veteran foster carers and professionals with the real-life experiences of foster children. The book will answer questions such as: 'What are the challenges and rewards? Is fostering really for me?'
Commissioning editor Steve Jones said: “I’m thrilled that Welcome to Fostering will be launching during Foster Care Fortnight. The fortnight helps to highlight the awe-inspiring work that foster carers do, and this book is an ideal introduction for anyone contemplating fostering, and is a fabulous addition to our range of titles supporting adoptive parents and foster carers.”
The brand new Director of Children's Services at the Department for Education visited two of our services in West London on Thursday, April 6 to meet young people and hear about their experiences of children's social care.
Phil Townsend, Director of Operations, acted as a tour guide for the day. Young people who were around the homes on the day had thought in advance about what questions they wanted to ask the government representative and what experiences they wanted to talk about with her.
The guest started her day at a Safe Steps children's home for girls at risk of exploitation. Social Pedagogy Trainer Nicola Boyce provided an overview of our services and model of care, before Manager Parveen Banga explained about the Safe Steps models and our experiences of being part of the DfE Innovation Programme.
Amelia, a young person who used to live in the home, also came back to talk about her experiences of St Christopher's and how much of a difference we made to her life.
Later in the afternoon the Director visited a 16+ service in West London. Manager Chardelle Margerison and Life-Skills and Participation Co-ordinator Alex Jones introduced the home and explained how we have developed our practice to support young people in their transitions from children's homes to supported housing to living independently. This included talking about a project where young people identified what they think is important for these moves and delivered training to managers of children's homes and 16+ services on making transitions easier.
Young people provided the Director with a tour of the two buildings and again shared their experiences of living with St Christopher's and being supported to move to independent accommodation.
Our guest really enjoyed the day and particularly highlighted how impressed she was with the way we focus on building relationships. She said it was rewarding to see staff and young people together as you could really see how they had bonded and built strong relationships.
*Names of young people have been changed
FtSE Member News: The Children's Family Trust carers shortlisted at Towergate Insurance Awards for Excellence in Care
At The CFT we pride ourselves on having some of the best Foster Carers in the country… and we are absolutely thrilled when our Carers are recognised by outside parties for their hard work and contributions to fostering.
In March 2017, we were notified that our Foster Carers, Clare & Mike Eynon – had been shortlisted to be finalists for the ‘Fostering Contribution of the Year’ award, awarded by Towergate Insurance.
Clare & Mike were invited to attend the awards ceremony at The Dorchester in London on March 23rd 2017, along with the registered manager for their CFT fostering region, Jayne Figgett.
The Towergate awards are an opportunity for people from all across the care community to come together and celebrate the very in care excellence. Towergate Insurance present a number of different awards to people from all areas of the care sector, including Therapists, Volunteers, Education Workers and Young People.
Clare and Mike had been shortlisted to receive the award in the ‘Fostering contribution of the year’ category due to their continued outstanding commitment to fostering, including their devotion to young parents who need support in learning how to care for their children and become well equipped parents. In addition to this, they were also recognised for their strength and dedication to fostering following a tragic experience in which a young child placed with them sadly passed away due to severe disability and illness.
Unfortunately, Clare & Mike were not chosen as the winners of this category, however were still given an honourable mention, as well as receiving a certificate and some Red Letter Days vouchers in recognition of their nomination – an excellent achievement in itself!
Kathryn Tibbles has joined Community Foster Care as the new Office Administrator.
Brought up in Bishop’s Cleeve and now living in Apperley with her husband Mark and two children, Kathryn spent 12 years of her working life with the Chelsea Building Society.
She is no stranger, however, to the world of fostering – her in-laws used to foster and having cared-for children as part of her extended family was the norm.
Her new role at the agency’s HQ in Staunton sees Kathryn, 34, returning to work after a three-year spell looking after her two children.
“Everyone’s been very helpful at Community Foster Care and it’s great to be back at work,” she said.
Chief Executive of Community Foster Care, Matthew Roberts, welcomed Kathryn. “She’s a great addition to our friendly team,” he said.
The agency is a registered charity and not-for-profit company which provides foster carers for children all over Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Lancashire and Cumbria.
Another two fostering households have been approved recently, bringing the total number of fostering households to 14.
Gary Cox, Founder of Young People at Heart, said that he was delighted that both households were immigrants to the UK some years ago and, while they were fluent in English, their home languages were Portugese and Spanish respectively, and he felt their experience of moving to the UK and learning a new language and culture could benefit young people in care, whether they were new to the UK or separated from their family.
He also felt the potential benefit of Spanish or Portugese speaking young people being able to converse in their own language, or young people and carers finding English as a common second language, could greatly benefit the young person in care.
Gary added that he wanted Young People at Heart to continue to embrace diversity and he encouraged new or existing foster carers from all backgrounds to consider joining the Young People at Heart family.
As a not-for-profit organisation, outcomes for young people are paramount and the appointment of our Education advisor was having an immediate benefit for foster carers and young people. He hoped more foster carers would enquire about joining the organisation, either through the web page contact form or via the telephone numbers provided.
FtSE Member News: The Children's Family Trust - LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week Special: We want to be Foster Carers
Now in the process as being assessed as Foster Carers – same sex couple Stewart & James share their experience of why they want to foster a child and what attracted them to The Children’s Family Trust…
“The reason’s we want to foster are, as a couple we feel we have so much to give a child or children that need some support as they go through or have been through some difficult times.
I have a daughter and I’ve fostered before when in a previous relationship and I feel I made a difference to the children’s lives when they came to stay with me and my wife.
Although my current partner, James does not have any children of his own he has always wanted to benefit a child’s life in some way. When we met, he instinctively thought of my daughter as being his own and he sees her as his responsibility and shows his love towards her.
We chose the Children’s Family Trust simply because they popped up on my Facebook feed and at the time we were considering fostering, but as a couple we were worried as being gay males that this may not be possible. We know that everyone is considered as “equal” but we were still unsure. After speaking to Julia Robertson, Registered Manager of the North East Team, we were reassured that being a gay male couple would not be a barrier to us fostering.
We don’t feel that being gay should stop us from fostering but we understand that we are not the stereotypical idea of a family; however we still have a lot of love, time, support and guidance to give a child who needs it.
We realise that if we are approved as foster carers, we may come in for some discrimination from others who do not agree with this as there is no female figure within our home, however society seems to be more accepting of LGBTQ individuals and we hope that they will see us as the loving and caring couple that we are – a couple who are able to provide the love care and stability that a child needs to support their development.”
At The Children’s Family Trust, we believe that giving a safe and loving home to a child is the most important thing a Foster Carer can do. If you think you, or someone you know, have the passion & qualities to become a Foster Carer, please contact us on 0300 111 1945 to find out more.
The views of more than 200 young people with experience of Scotland’s care system were presented to the Scottish First Minister, the Right Honourable Nicola Sturgeon MSP at a special event in Edinburgh.
She talked with 50 young people in person and then received boxes of postcards with the views of other young people supported by us.
The event is part of a series which will allow the First Minister to hear from 1,000 looked after young Scots. This will feed into the Scottish Government’s “root and branch” review of the country’s care system.
"We support upwards of 800 young Scots who have been through the care system and their views are crucial to this review. They are the experts on the system and have seen first-hand the parts which worked while also experiencing the parts which have let them down."
Paul Carberry, Director of Action for Children Scotland
The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Children and young people are the best advocates for change and today I have heard some powerful stories that really demonstrate strength, courage and success in the face of circumstances that no young person should have to deal with.
“We all have a role to play in supporting and listening more to our young people to ensure they get the same stability and life chances that the rest of us take for granted.”
"Every child should have the best start in life and an equal chance to succeed. Yet, through no fault of their own, that’s not the case for far too many young people in care."
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Action for Children Scotland works with more than 800 young people who have been through the care system at services including residential and short-breaks, family support services and employability support.
Paul Carberry, Director of Action for Children Scotland, added: “When the review of the care system was announced by the First Minister we welcomed it, particularly the pledge to listen to the views of care-experienced young people.
"Our young people were thrilled to meet the First Minister and play their part in this very important review. She heard about their very real experiences which are important if we are to build of a care system which will better meet their needs and allow them to reach their potential."
Paul Carberry, Director of Action for Children Scotland
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