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Join Foster Swansea at Swansea Pride

Foster Swansea will be supporting Swansea Pride on Saturday 5 May at the Waterfront Museum between 12 noon and 4pm.

Sarah and Serena Jones

More LGBT+ foster carers are needed to provide safe and happy homes for children in Swansea, particularly for older children and sibling groups.

However, a YouGov poll revealed that many lesbian, gay, and bisexual people believe they will be discriminated against by agencies, with eight in ten expecting to face barriers if they apply to become foster parents.

In addition, there are myths that you can't foster if you are LGBT+. Sarah and Serena Jones have been fostering with Foster Swansea for three years and currently foster one child. Sarah says it's transformed their lives and perceptions of what fostering is about.

"Serena and I met in San Francisco in 1995. We talked about fostering and adoption for a few years as we both wanted children but having children biologically hadn't worked out for us.

"The world has changed so much for gay people in my lifetime. We were surprised to be recruited as foster carers at Swansea Pride in the Summer of 2014. I would have been nervous stepping forward for fear of rejection. We were wrong. The LGBT+ community are wanted and have a lot to give. Children need a home where they are safe and happy - and our community can give them that. We started the fostering process immediately at the Pride event. It was one of those moments when your life goes in a completely different direction. We went to an initial interview within the week, then on intensive training.

"We led quite self-indulgent lives before we fostered. If we wanted to do something we did it, if there was a gig in London we would go. Now we're lucky to do a yoga class. But it is something else to see your foster child grow and blossom before your very eyes - she is the light and joy in our lives and we treat her like she is our own child. We go to the theatre a lot together and she is mesmerised by it. We walk the dogs on the beach and do lots of activities like drawing and painting.

 "To be a good foster carer it helps to be open-minded and have a good sense of humour. Be playful. Be creative. Be stretched - emotionally and intellectually. Think outside the box. Be willing to fail and pick yourself back up again. As a couple you need to have a similar approach to how you deal with any challenges, if not relationships can struggle. You have to be a tag team and know when you reach your limit; you can recharge your batteries and the other steps in. You have to have support networks. We are each other's absolute support, our relationship is really strong and solid and it needs to be.

"You might be raising a child who has been through bereavement, or seen things they shouldn't have seen. They might respond differently to cuddles or a cwtch as we say in Wales; the moment our foster child threw her arms around us was one of those magical moments. Before when we hugged she would ask why we did it. We would make a space for her and talk to each other about how great cuddles were and she would look at us quizzically. Then one day she joined for a cuddle and it was amazing. You would think every child wants to cuddle as it is one of the first forms of communication but for some children who are neglected that doesn't take place.

 "Being a foster carer will be the best job you've ever had, it is the most rewarding I've had, without a shadow of a doubt. I never thought my heart would be this full. Her smile can light up a whole room. Don't be afraid to come forward to foster, social services will talk through any concerns you have - foster carers from all walks of life are needed.

"I came out in the early 80s and wanted to bring on the revolution and change the world. One of the best things about fostering is you can change the world for one child. Foster care truly transforms lives, not just for the children but for the whole fostering family."

  • Are you interested in becoming a foster carer? Come and chat to the Foster Swansea at Swansea Pride, 12-4pm. If you have space in your heart to care for children and young people, as well as a spare bedroom, Foster Swansea would love to hear from you. Alternatively contact Foster Swansea on 0300 555 0110 or (01792 533212) or visit www.fosterswansea.org.

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