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Fostering: it helped us provide the love that we both could give

Louise and Andy - Foster carers in Fairford

Louise and Anthony have been fostering since 2012. Anthony is a retrained firefighter and they live in the South West. They had their own son in 1999 but decided they would expand their family by fostering: Louise explains, “We felt we had more love to give and wanted other children to benefit from the close-knit upbringing that we both had.”

Off to a flying start

Five Rivers approved the family in May 2012 after a relatively short process and their first placement arrived pretty much the same day. Louise says, “We hit the floor running – I wouldn’t have had it any other way!”

Their first foster child had emotional and learning needs but the family rose to the challenge, and moved to a larger house in 2015 to accommodate further children. They now have two foster children alongside their 17 year-old son. “It can be difficult at times,” Louise says, “the children are very different with very different needs – but that works for us and them.”

Being in the forces

Since becoming a foster carer, Anthony has retrained as a firefighter – a big life change – but the demands of both jobs combine well:  being on call has a positive impact on his family, he explains:

“If my alarm goes off – we have a plan. The guys understand and respond to the fact that they cannot mess around with the process – they know what they have to do and what their responsibility is. It helps them understand the dangers and the consequences to their own actions.”

The children are immensely proud of their dad, and both foster children want to join the fire service. Anthony believes the forces lifestyle makes personnel uniquely suited to fostering:

“Ex-forces can get through to kids who have emotional and social problems. It’s all about empathy – you can understand what it’s like being moved around from one home to another; and you can relate to a child entering your home for the first time  – it’s just like when you first joined up and went to training school and had to take in all the rules”

Support

While fostering is about family life, it’s a professional commitment and one that Louise takes very seriously, crediting Five Rivers with great support;

“We have a designated supervising social worker who stays with you throughout the process of placement. The training we receive is second to none and although we are classed as self-employed we feel very much part of the company. I feel the ongoing investment in our personal development is essential to the care of the children. It has benefitted me on numerous occasions when dealing with a difficult situation.”

Benefits

While being a foster carer is sometimes hard, the benefits far outweigh the stumbling blocks for Louise who says, “I cannot remember my life before we fostered. I love what I do and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Being a foster carer gives me the opportunity to watch little people have the opportunities and enjoyment in life that they deserve.”

Anthony and Louise are enthusiastic advocates for fostering among their own friends around the RAF base. One couple have already signed up and Anthony hopes others will follow: “It would be beneficial for society for more ex-military people to do this – it would make a big difference. Kids need boundaries and stability – and a service person does that most of their life. People in the forces have a lot more to offer to children than they realise: the things you learn about good behaviour – when you apply those principles to dealing with a child – the impact is so much greater. Kids will always go ‘Wow!’ when you tell them what you did. It’s a nice way in!”

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