Lynne Thomas's story
Fostering is in my blood, as my mum was a foster carer and I really enjoyed having a large, diverse family. I still regard them all as my brothers and sisters.
When my two daughters grew up and moved out to start their own lives the house just felt empty. I craved the laughter and being around young people, which in turn made me feel young.
As I had a demanding job as a Crisis Officer for the local council, I didn’t feel that fostering was quite right for me.
Supported lodgings fitted in with my busy lifestyle much more. I could still live my own life but have an impact on someone else’s life.
It was great that I could balance working full time, whilst providing supported lodgings, and still go out for with friends or go on holiday.
I also felt like my job had taught me to be level-headed and make reasoned decisions under pressure. Those transferable skills have provided me with a good footing for supporting young people in crisis.
When my daughter had her first child, I took the decision to leave work. I felt like I had helped as many vulnerable people as I could, so I wanted to switch that energy into helping another group of people. I was still able to care for my granddaughter whilst providing supported lodgings so it just worked for me!
You give the young people you care for as much help as they need; its not forced on them at all. They are generally self-sufficient, so have their own budget for food and clothes. They just need a guiding hand to help them achieve. A little love and nurture can go a long way.
All you need is good heart. You don’t need a big house, an education or to be married. Just a spare bedroom and love.
Since 2014 I’ve cared for 8 young people, 7 of them who are asylum seekers.
They have seen some truly awful things and have fled a country where they feel unsafe. I feel like it's my duty to make them feel safe and understand that they can trust people in the UK.
They must miss their own family terribly, so I do everything possible to make them feel part of my own life and my family. It must be working as they often call me “mum”.
They are just so loving and grateful to be here. It’s a joy to have them in my home.
When you see them develop from someone who isn’t happy to someone with a smile on their face and a personality starts to come out, it’s the most rewarding thing ever.
I love seeing seeing the young people and their friends around my house. They bring such an energy and the house is buzzing. You don’t end up just seeing those you’re supporting grow up, but their friends too. It’s like one big extended family.
It’s the most amazing thing I’ve done, and I wouldn’t do anything else. I have the biggest passion for it. Every day is just gorgeous!