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Long term foster couple celebrate inspirational journey

A couple from the South West are celebrating their 19th year as foster carers having looked after a staggering 12 children in that time, including giving one child a home from the age of three to 18.

Sarah* and Paul*, first began fostering in 1998 after their two biological children left home for university. With Paul having spent 22 years in the military and Sarah’s experience in raising two children, the couple saw an opportunity to open their home and hearts to a young person in need of a safe and caring environment.

Since then, Sarah* and Paul* have been foster parents to 12 children, one of whom, Jack* was in their care for 15 years before moving out to live on his own in July this year when he turned 18. Since the age of three, Jack* has been an important part of the family, growing into a young man and overcoming his unfortunate experiences prior to entering the care system.

Talking about Jack’s* placement, Sarah said: “We were so sad to see Jack* leave but we couldn’t be more proud of how far he has come. One thing that Jack* has always said is: ‘I want to live my life; I don’t want to just exist’. He had a lot going against him but we are so proud that he stayed in education to complete his GCSEs and we can see that he is living his life to the full. Staying in regular contact with our previous foster children is lovely for us and the children. We like to think that our support never ends.”

Speaking of the challenges of a career in foster carer, Sarah said: “With each child, there are always different things to overcome but we take each case as it comes. We have been very lucky with the children placed with us, considering the experiences that some of them have had to deal with. It’s hard to imagine what some of the children have had to experience prior to our care, but it is part of our role as foster carers, to provide a loving and safe place for them to call home. They become part of our family and it’s wonderful to see them grow and enjoy a happy home life.”

Sarah* and Paul* foster through independent fostering agency, Five Rivers, that is calling for more people to consider a career in foster care to stem the current shortfall of 480 foster carers in the South West.

Speaking of the support that Five Rivers provides, Sarah* said: “Throughout our time as foster carers with Five Rivers, we and our foster children have always been given their full support, providing around the clock support workers and regular training sessions that we attend. Five Rivers’ ensure that we never feel isolated and without guidance.”

With an acute shortage in the South West, Sarah* and Paul* hope to inspire people who are considering fostering to take the next step in becoming a foster carer.

Five Rivers offer a range of foster care options, from emergency placements to long-term placements. People with a military background are very welcome to apply to become foster carers as long as they are over 21 years of age, and can provide a spare room for each foster child.

Five Rivers Fostering is a national organisation, who have provide locally-based support services to foster carers, children and young people, and their families through a range of child centred practices. As a social enterprise operating in foster care, any surplus income the organisation makes is re-invested to provide more foster care support, more training and goes towards recruiting more foster carers to give more stable, loving homes to more children.
A career in foster care offers many benefits including competitive rates of pay and flexible working. For more information about fostering contact Five Rivers on 01722 435765 or visit

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of all involved in this case study

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