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Customer service advisor turned foster carer urges others to consider a rewarding career in fostering

A woman from Swindon is urging others to consider a career in fostering as the pandemic results in scores of people across the UK looking for a career change.

With over 35% of people feeling unsatisfied in their current jobs [1], and 20% of people planning to switch to a career that helps others [2], a foster mum is calling on people across Wiltshire to consider a rewarding career in fostering as the number of children and young people needing a safe place to live continues to rise.

Josie left her job as a senior advisor at a customer service contact centre after six years to become a full-time foster carer after no longer feeling fulfilled from her previous nine to five role.

Parents to two of their own children, 12-year-old Harlan and 20-year-old Tianna, fostering is something that Josie and her husband, James, a construction groundworker, had been considering for many years before deciding to finally pursue it once their daughter Tianna had moved away from home for university, giving the couple a spare room.

Having known a number of people who fostered and who had expressed really positive experiences with it, Josie was convinced that it was time to start exploring the idea herself. Before her role in a contact centre, Josie spent many years working as a child minder. Her experience from both jobs, as well as bringing up her own children, has meant Josie was able to apply her transferable skills into fostering.

Discussing her motivations for changing careers, Josie said: “The contact centre was very high pressured, the constant stream of demanding work and the busy nature of it started to take its toll on my family life. I went through a number of promotions in my six years there but the more progress I tried to make the more it dawned on me that this wasn’t best suited to what I wanted for my lifestyle. I became unsatisfied as I felt I was further removed from helping people. My main motivation for work has always been to care for people. I felt like fostering would be the right career change to enable me to do that.”

The couple have now been fostering for over a year with Five Rivers Child Care – an independent fostering provider and social enterprise – which has offices in Bristol and Salisbury and foster carers across Wiltshire. They currently have a young boy in their care, Toby*, who’s been with them for several months.

Speaking about Toby’s* time in their care so far, Josie said: “He just instantly gelled with our family. He’s a similar age to our own son, Harlan, and the boys are a silly pair together and always seem to be having fun. The whole family has dinner together every evening and I don’t think a single day goes by where the table isn’t filled with laughter, it has brought such magic to this house, and it has a lot to do with welcoming this little boy into our care.”

As well as being a rewarding career option, fostering offers flexible working, a competitive professional fee and the comfort of working from home. Discussing the benefits of the more flexible role she now has, Josie said: “I’m home and so much more present for family life than I ever have been before. I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with both Harlan and Toby* and it’s such a positive change. It’s the small things like being able to go out for a hot chocolate after school, getting the boys involved with cooking the evening meal, and spending time doing it rather than after-work life feeling like a rush or a struggle.”

Looking to the future, Josie explains how they hope to foster for a long time to come, she said: “Leaving behind my stressful nine to five has been the best decision I’ve ever made. Fostering can be challenging at times but the rewarding feeling you get far outweighs that. We’re having such a fun, positive journey and hope to continue providing a home to youngsters for as long as we can. We’re actually hoping to extend the house so that we have extra rooms to be able to take on more than one child at one time.”

The number of children needing foster care in the UK has risen by 36% in the last year [3]. With more children and young people in need of a loving and safe home, fostering can provide job flexibility, which people are valuing more, post-pandemic. It’s a vocation that can be done from home and is suitable for singletons, couples, and families alike.

Discussing the need for more foster carers, Adrian Chappell, Fostering Team Manager at Five Rivers Child Care for the South West, said: “At Five Rivers we pride ourselves in supporting families with the transition into fostering from other careers. We provide training, support, and the opportunity to learn for other members of our fostering community to help new carers develop their confidence, skills, and experience.

“The pandemic has changed how people want to live their lives and has reminded us that life is too short to not do something you love. And with more people inspired by the pandemic, there is a renewed sense of life to help others and to be in a job that feels rewarding.

“We offer 24/7 support from qualified and experienced staff and a wide range of specialist training.

“There is no need for previous experience, you just need to be nurturing, compassionate and enjoy supporting others. There are a variety of ways you can foster and we can provide advice and guidance to help you decide what kind of fostering would suit you best.”

People from across England, from all backgrounds and communities, can be considered to become foster carers but they must be over 21 years of age. This includes single people, co-habiting couples, LGBTQ+ couples, and people living in rented accommodation. You will need a spare room for each foster child.

You can find out more about fostering with Five Rivers Child Care by attending a virtual event. Visit: to see all upcoming dates and book a place. The next virtual events will take place over Zoom on Wednesday, 19 January at 7pm and Wednesday, 26 January at 11am.





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