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Foster carer highlights importance of celebrating cultural identity of foster children

cultural identity of foster children

To mark Black History Month, which runs throughout October, we spoke to Five Rivers foster carer Jessie from London, to talk about the importance of cultural identity being recognised and celebrated for children in care.

After working as a child minder, youth worker and running her own youth club with her sister for ten years, Jessie wanted to provide more stability and support to children’s lives and finally had the opportunity to become a foster carer when her biological children left home 15 years ago. Since then, Jessie has fostered 23 young people from all backgrounds and always makes sure she recognises and nurtures the culture of her foster children, to help them feel loved, recognised and supported.

Speaking about how she ensures children recognise their cultural identity while they are living away from their birth family, Jessie said: “When a new child comes to stay with me I often go to my local bookshop and read up on where they’re from and learn about their cultural background. I take time to learn about their heritage, their community, the food they eat, and I teach myself to make meals for them, so they feel in touch with their roots.”

Jessie also takes time to share her own Jamaican heritage with her foster children, especially through food. A keen cook, Jessie prepares traditional dishes like her West Indian fried red mullet, which she cooks during Easter, as many West Indian families avoid eating meat on Good Friday.

On advice to people who might be thinking of fostering, Jessie said: “There are a lot of barriers that hold people back from fostering but whatever background you’re from, everybody has love in their hearts to give to a young person in need. I thought I would be considered too old to foster, but I couldn’t have lived with myself if I didn’t apply and I’m so glad I did. It is such a privilege to share someone’s life and to watch them grow up. It’s been a journey for me and to be supporting so many children is such a wonderful feeling. I tell every child that I’ve ever looked after that I will always be there for them.”

If you would like to know more about how you can help a child in need, or the personal and career benefits of fostering, or would just like an informal chat with our team you can reach us on 0345 266 0272 or carer.enquiries@five-rivers.org

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