“Once you start fostering, you’ll never look back
“Once you start fostering, you’ll never look back.” Essex foster carers Stephen and Colin share their experiences of fostering as a same-sex couple to recognise Pride Month.
As we recognise and celebrate Pride Month and Essex’s own Pride celebrations on the 25 June, Stephen and Colin from Essex share their experiences of fostering and encourage others, especially those from the LGBTQ+ community, who are looking for a new direction in their life, to think about fostering.
There are over 1,000 children in care and Essex County Council is urging more people to consider fostering because more foster carers are needed to offer part-time and full time fostering, whether they are from the LGBTQ+ community, single, married, or retired.
Stephen says, “I know there are people in the LGBTQ+ community that absolutely aren’t aware that they can foster, and it’s so important to dispel those myths and say yes, you can foster. All you need to be is kind, caring, loving, non-judgemental, and have a spare room.”
Stephen and Colin, who started fostering 18 months ago have highlighted how life changing fostering has been for them.
Stephen says, “Fostering has been an amazing experience, because at the end of the day, you know you’ve done something good, you know you’ve done something nice, and you know you’ve been part of that young person’s journey going forward.”
Essex foster carers are providing a safe and nurturing environment for young people across the county, but more are needed to keep up with the rise of children coming into care. There is a greater need for foster carers who can support children over 10 years old.
Stephen wants to encourage people to foster teenagers, “I’ve always wanted to foster teenagers. It is often a myth that teenagers are more challenging to foster. They can often arrive on our doorstep having experienced trauma, but you can also create longer lasting relationships with them, and many of the teenagers we’ve fostered we keep in touch with now.
“It’s not about the age, it’s about the person, a seven year old could arrive on your doorstep having been through more trauma than a 13 year old. Fostering gives you the opportunity to show your foster children that even though they have been through some horrendous things, life doesn’t have to be like that. They can change their path with your support.
“One young person who came to us on an emergency placement recently said that they felt secure and safe for the first time in a long time. Hearing that melts my heart; it shows that we are doing good, and we’ve helped that young person in a small way.”
Essex County Council offer all foster carers high-quality bespoke local training with an active network of support groups providing opportunities to meet and learn from other carers. It also offers 24/7 local support, a dedicated social worker and access to a team of mental health professionals including a clinical psychologist.
Cllr Beverley Egan, Cabinet Member for Children Services and Early Years at Essex County Council, said, “We want to dispel the many myths around who can and can’t foster, if you are ever unsure please just give us a call.
“We need more people, like Stephen and Colin, to consider fostering. Our foster carers provide a safe, stable, and nurturing home environment to hundreds of young people across Essex every year, helping them to reach their potential, and you could be of them.
“The support provided by Essex County Council enables our foster carers to follow their passion and make a real difference to a young person’s life.”
Stephen and Colin want to encourage people to give Essex County Council a call and find out more information.
Stephen says, “If you’re thinking of fostering, go to Essex County Council’s website, look at the testimonials, give the number a call and chat to the advisors, or go to a fostering information event to find out more and chat to real foster cares.
“It not only enriches your own life, but the lives of young people who need safety and security, and once you start fostering, you’ll never look back.”
Find out more by visiting: https://www.essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk/fostering.
If you prefer to speak to our friendly helpline call: 0800 801 530.