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Couple's first year of fostering has been "wonderfully rewarding"

Swansea Council is once again supporting Foster Care Fortnight (14 - 27 May), highlighting the need for more foster carers and demonstrating how local foster carers are changing lives for the better.

Emma and Tom Buckley

Foster Care Fortnight is delivered by fostering charity 'The Fostering Network' and the theme for this year's campaign is 'foster care transforms lives'.

Foster Swansea are currently looking for new foster families to care for children and young people, with the greatest need being for teenagers, sibling groups, parent and child, and children with complex needs.

Emma and Tom Buckley, foster carers with Foster Swansea will shortly be celebrating their first year of fostering.

In their short time as foster carers, they have gone from providing shorts breaks, respite and short-term placements, to providing a loving home for a teenager.

The couple hadn't been able to have children of their own but with a spare bedroom and room in their lives, they felt they had something good to offer a child that needed a stable and loving home. 

Emma talks about how their fostering journey started: "We made initial contact with Foster Swansea, who were extremely friendly on the phone. They came out to our home for our initial visit and we shortly attended the 'Skills to Foster' preparation training. Shortly after, we started our assessment to become foster carers. Throughout the assessment we were well supported and didn't feel that there was anything we couldn't ask or that was 'off limits'. There was no right or wrong answers and it wasn't as daunting as people made out."

With both Emma and Tom in full-time employment, they assumed that they could only offer respite, short breaks and short term placements. They also weren't confident enough to jump straight into providing full time placements. Whilst her husband found respite and short breaks enjoyable, it wasn't long until Emma found it quite challenging.

Emma says: "We didn't expect to feel differently and had to work through that. We were also honest with our social worker about how we both felt. We subsequently had an emergency respite placement of a 15 year old girl, which turned into what we refer to as a full time placement - which in real terms can either be short or long term.

"A year on and she's still with us! She has become part of our family, but also, over time we've built up a good relationship with her mother. Maintaining this positive situation is wonderfully rewarding. We much prefer having a 'full time' placement as opposed to a respite one which is why we've had our approval changed so we are now able to offer long term placements."  

Choosing to foster is not a simple decision to make and the support of a fostering team is vital in ensuring that fostering placements are successful.

Emma said: "We are very lucky with Foster Swansea. The support and training they provide us with is superb. From the very first initial enquiry through to now, we've found the workers at Foster Swansea to be friendly, approachable and understanding. In our experience, social workers have gone out of their way to help. On one occasion, a social worker took our foster girl to school when we had an emergency situation and weren't able to take her. We were and still are very grateful for that, and it really shows the level of commitment from individuals working at Foster Swansea." 

Many foster carers refer to fostering as one of the most rewarding things they have done - and Emma is no different.

"It's the small things that are rewarding - like when our girl choses to come in the car with me when I pop to Tesco just because she likes my company, or when she has chosen to come to the cinema with us instead of going out with her friends.  We also enjoy giving her opportunities that she wouldn't have otherwise had - like going for days out, holidays or having a hobby.

She continues: "We're extremely proud to foster and would definitely recommend fostering to others. People shouldn't be put off thinking that they have to be some sort of hero to be a foster carer. Everyone has different abilities and things they are good at dealing with. You just need to start off with an open mind to learn new things and have empathy. Even if you can only take care for one child, you could change their whole world."

Come and meet the fostering team!
Could you transform lives by offering a loving home to children and young people? If you have a spare room and are interested in fostering you can find out more at a series of information events we've organised to support Foster Care Fortnight. Dates and venues can be found below:-

Date

Time

Venue

Tuesday 15 May

10am - 4pm

Tesco - Marina

Wednesday 16 May

10am - 4pm

Tesco - Marina

Thursday 17 May

10am - 4pm

Quadrant

Friday 18 May

10am - 4pm

Quadrant

 

 

 

Tuesday 22 May

10am - 4pm

Tesco - Fforestfach

Thursday 24 May

10am - 4pm

Quadrant

Friday 25 May

10am - 4pm

Tesco - Fforestfach

At the roadshows, you'll be able to speak to the fostering team and foster carers will be on hand to share their experiences.

The Foster Swansea team also organises regular information evenings that provide friendly information on fostering, including a no-obligation chat with the team and foster carers. The next sessions will take place on Wednesday 16 May and Wednesday 23 May, 6-8pm at Swansea Civic Centre.

Foster Swansea is the local authority's fostering service, and aims to provide high quality placements for children and young people who, through no fault of their own, can no longer stay with their birth families.

To find out more about this year's Foster Care Fortnight campaign, please visit www.fosterswansea.org for further information about becoming a foster carer, call 0300 555 0111 or 01792 533212.


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