Beverley – TACT Foster Carer since 2019
London and the South East
Before I became a full-time foster carer, I was a successful building facilities manager with some very prestigious contracts such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Canary Wharf Tower. I met all sorts of people including the President of Jamaica and royal VIPs when they visited my buildings. But my role as a foster carer has turned out to be just as exciting.
The two roles might seem miles away from each other but looking back now they are not so different. I have always enjoyed resolving problems and it’s in my character to look after people, be attentive to their needs and then enjoy the results.
I will always remember when I was told I was I getting my foster child, for fostering charity TACT, back in 2006. I was so excited and not sure what to expect. Although I had attended all the training and knew I had the support of the TACT social workers, there was a sense of anxiety mixed with excitement.
The first few days were a bit nerve racking. The young person was known for absconding and was very street wise. He was only 12 but he had lived most of his life around gangs and violence. On the day he arrived, in my innocence I asked the young lad if he was thinking of absconding that evening. The young boy looked at me and said “are you mad, you don’t ask big man about his business” … I thought to myself that this might be the longest night I will ever experience. I decided to engage him in conversation about what it is like to run away, and he was happy to talk about his experiences. I told him that I had left some food in the fridge just in case he did decide to go. I just wanted to make sure he had something to eat. I remember the young man telling me that I was mad but gave me a cheeky smile as he went up to bed. The rest is history. That disruptive and vulnerable young man became my friend.
I have been fortunate to be able to help children from many different cultural backgrounds. One of the most important things I have learned is how childhood trauma can influence the course of one’s life. I see myself as someone who can make a road on which a child is able to travel. That road can be used to restore broken dreams, support aspirations, and improve outcomes for them. I enjoy all aspects of fostering because there is always something new to learn. It is so rewarding seeing the results of my care, whether that is a child becoming more independent or confident, developing useful life skills, or they have been successfully reunited with their family.
My own children found being part of a fostering family rather challenging at times. Now that they are all adults, they have said to me that on reflection they realise that they have learned so much from the children who have been placed with us. Fostering has given them the opportunity to appreciate what being a family is all about.
If you are thinking about becoming a foster carer then I recommend doing so with TACT, it is like working with extended family. The staff are very accessible, compassionate and child centred, and they will include your birth children whenever they can.
I remain in contact with some of my former foster children, many were mother and child placements, and one is a young man who recently left. These young people come and visit and send regular texts. We have telephone conversations on the phone, and they will often ask me for advice. I will soon be celebrating the marriage of one of my former foster children and I have become a foster grandmother. Fifteen years of fostering has flown by, I still love being a foster carer and hope to continue doing it for many years to come.
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