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Meet the Foster Care Super-Group

A group of foster carers from the South West who have formed a support group for fellow carers are hosting an event calling for more people in the area to sign up to consider fostering, following the recent news of a shortage of 1700 carers in the south of England.

The carers, who all foster with Five Rivers Fostering, have banded together to support each other through their fostering journeys and meet once a month to share stories and advice.

One of the group’s members is Donna, who has looked after 12 children in total since she began fostering four years ago. Having worked as a healthcare assistant for nine years, Donna decided to become a foster carer in 2013 and initially signed up with another fostering agency.

Donna said: “When I first began fostering all the training was far away and difficult to get to. It felt like there was a lack of support. We were trying our hardest to give the children we looked after the best support, but foster children often have complex needs and we felt as though we were coping with it all on our own.

“We had a difficult few years coping with family bereavements and felt very isolated. It was a struggle but I knew I wanted to carry on fostering. There was no way I was giving up on helping these children.”

After two years, Donna switched agencies to Five Rivers Fostering taking her six-year-old foster child with her, and her experience has changed dramatically.

Donna continued: “We have a local support group where lots of us meet up regularly to chat with each other and a social worker from Five Rivers. It means that there’s a real feel of support between all of the foster carers in the local community and none of us ever feel lost.

“We’ve all formed really strong friendships and often meet up outside of the regular meetings for a coffee or pop over to each other’s houses for a catch up. It really helps to know that there’s a group of people out there who understand the journey you’re on. If anyone ever has a problem or a question, we know that someone at the support group will be able to help you or point you in the direction of someone else who can.

“Parents with biological children often have groups of friends they made when their children were little through NCT or other baby groups and this is no different, we’re all in the same boat and we’re all learning together.”

The group are now hosting a ‘Meet the Carers’ event and are inviting anyone from Wiltshire who wants to find out more about fostering to come and chat to them about their experiences.

Donna added: “To become a foster parent you need to be a real advocate for the children in your care. If you’re a caring and resilient person and there’s a part of you that thinks you’d like to be a foster carer, definitely take the time to pop in and speak to us. For people in the South West there’s an excellent network of other foster carers there with a hot cup of tea and an understanding ear whenever it’s needed.”

Jem Orman, Five Rivers’ fostering service manager added: “Making sure our foster carers receive all of the training and support possible is an essential part of the Five Rivers ethos. Fostering is a wonderful, selfless thing to do but it’s not without its challenges. That’s why we believe it’s essential to be there for our each of our carers every step of the way, making sure they have all they need to make a real positive impact on the lives of the young people they look after.

“We’re looking forward to meeting lots of new faces at our event so that we can continue to provide safe homes for children in need of a family.”

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