Opening their hearts and homes - Foster carers Jan and Gavin awarded Essex County Council’s Long Service Award for 38 years of fostering
“They are one-in-a-million. They have so much love to give and I had one of the best childhoods.”
33-year-old Michael has been sharing his thoughts on his adoptive parents, Jan and Gavin Mead, after they received the Long Service Award for Fostering from Essex County Council.
Michael said “I was placed with them when I was two and a half, so I’ve never looked at them as my foster parents or my adopted parents; they have always been Mum and Dad. They have done nothing but supported me my whole life. They have so much love to give. They try every which way to connect with the child in their care and when they do, you just see the child become such a happier person. I couldn’t have asked for better parents.”
Jan, 70 and Gavin, 74 have been fostering children at their home near Chelmsford for 38 years. They were recognised alongside other dedicated foster parents from Essex at a special awards ceremony.
Cllr Beverley Egan, Essex County Council's Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Early Years, said “It is a privilege to present this award to Jan and Gavin. They have dedicated their lives to fostering, supporting so many children. We need more foster carers like them, to open their homes to children in need. Foster carers provide a safe, stable, and nurturing home environment to young people across Essex. We hope these awards will show how rewarding fostering can be and the difference foster carers can make to young people’s lives.”
Jan said “There are so many rewarding things about fostering; when you have an eight year old child who’s never seen a beach before and you see their face when you take them. The ultimate reward is when they move back to their parents or move on to adoption; when they’ve got permanency and they are going to be loved and cared for.”
In the 38 years since Jan and Gavin started fostering, they have supported over 100 children. Jan added “Being a foster carer has made me appreciate what I have got, it’s made me have an understanding and be more sympathetic towards others than I would ever have been. My life has been more fulfilled. It is our life, it’s what we do, it’s very busy but it’s incredible as well.”
“I have no intentions of retiring; I will need to one day but at this moment in time it’s not even there. When you have children around you, it keeps you on your toes and younger in your head. I was the oldest of seven, so I am used to a busy household!”
Reflecting on his experience, Michael encourages anyone to consider fostering “I think children just need someone who understands and listens to them. They need someone to be patient with them. You’re going to have your ups and downs at first but it’s about having that understanding and patience with what the child has gone through. You can end up making that child’s life better whether that’s for 6 months or for 2 years; you can just make that child’s life so, so much better.”
“Mum and Dad are two of the most amazing people I know. I love them with all my heart. They have given me the best life ever and I am just super, super proud to be able to call them my Mum and Dad. They love children unconditionally and I feel proud that they’ve won this award. It’s really well deserved.”
Find out more by visiting: https://www.essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk/fostering.
The phone line is also open: 0800 801 530.