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It’s hard to comprehend the true impact you can have on someone’s life

Dawn and Andy are calling on more people to consider a career in fostering

A couple from the South West are calling for more people to consider a career as a foster carer to help tackle a nationwide shortage which includes a current shortfall of 600 across the South West of England and more than 9,000 throughout the UK.** Dawn Ellis shares how she made the decision to foster.

Dawn and her husband Andy moved to a new home seven years ago with their grown up son and decided it was the perfect place to change the lives of disadvantaged children by becoming foster carers.

Now, the couple are long-term foster parents to David*, aged 12, who has been in the Ellis’ care for two years, joining them when he was nine years-old after being removed from his biological parents following years of emotional abuse.

“The transformation we’ve seen in him* over the last few years has been remarkable, ” says Dawn, “We look at pictures of him then and now and you would think it was a different person. He’s content and happy, and that’s all any parent could wish for their child.”

David* is well and truly part of the Ellis family and has joined them on three holidays in the last year alone, visiting Fuerteventura last Summer and trying skiing for the first time at Christmas.

Dawn continues: “David is part of everything we do, and because of him, we have totally turned our lives around. Before, we were happy relaxing and spending our afternoons and evenings not really doing much but now we are out and about so often that our fitness levels have improved dramatically, whether it’s country walks, mountain hikes or going on bike rides, we may have given him a new life but he doesn’t realise that he’s done the same for us”.

Dawn and Andy‘s birth son Luke is 24, a mechanic and lives at home with his parents and David*.

“Luke and David* are just like any normal brothers. They play fight and wrestle and David* looks up to Luke like a big brother and Luke’s completely taken him under his wing.”

Through Five Rivers Dawn and Andy have undertaken a lot of training on looking after children and young people with difficult behaviour and were also able to choose long-term foster placements as they felt that they were well placed to offer a stable home and really work with David* to turn his life around.

Dawn goes on to say: “It’s hard to comprehend the true impact you can have on someone’s life, but seeing how different David* is now from the David* we met five years ago is an incredible feeling. When he first came to live with us he had no aspirations for his future, now, he has dreams of becoming a pilot or a policeman and that’s a testament to the fact that he now understands his own self-worth.

Just last year David* was the first pupil in his school to be awarded the Aspiration Shield – we are incredibly proud of him.”

David* surprised us and I think we surprised him. We’ve all continued to learn from each other and I think that’s the most important thing, to continue learning and expanding our horizons. We’ve been on our own journey of self-discovery and have learnt so much, through courses with Five Rivers and general day to day experiences.

Dawn and Andy have now been awarded permanent custody of David* which means he will remain in their care until he is at least 18 years-old.

*Please note, the name has been changed to protect the identity of the foster child

**Figures from Fostering Network to be found at www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/advice-information/all-about-fostering/recruitment-targets

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