North East foster carers create a sense of belonging
PUBLISHED: 12:35 06 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:06 20 February 2013
Vicky Davidson Boyd, of support organisation Team Fostering, helps steer foster carers through the pitfalls and pleasures
It takes a special sort of person to open their home and their heart to a vulnerable child - yet hundreds of men and women across the North East do so every year. Vicky Davidson Boyd, of support organisation Team Fostering, helps steer foster carers through the pitfalls and pleasures
A warm bed to sleep in, food to eat, a safe place to live with an adult who cares for you - that wouldnt seem too much to ask for any child, would it?
However, the truth is that some children have a very tough start in life.
Perhaps their parents cant cope with them or they need to be removed from their families for their own safety. Perhaps its simply that no-one is
interested in them.
Its not simple to reassure the child that their situation is not their fault, its not simple to restore their shattered faith in human nature or in adults and, tragically, its not always simple to find them a family to care for them and love them.
Thats where a company such as Team Fostering comes in. We provide specialist foster care placements for those children and young people local authorities have been unable to help.
Team Fostering is an independent, not for profit fostering agency. It has no shareholders and no profits are distributed. Instead, any surplus is re-invested back into the business to provide extra support for our children and young people, provide our foster carers with extra services and competitive rates of pay and provide the local authorities, with which we work, with value-for-money services.
Thankfully, the North East is home to a large number of kind-hearted, generous people happy to open their homes to a child, to welcome them and make them part of their family.
Its one of the biggest fallacies about fostering that only married couples can apply - in fact, we recognise that there are as many different types of family as there are children and we work with a huge variety of people.
We like to have a range of different family types, living in different areas and with different interests and cultural backgrounds so we can be sure that when we place a child with them the relationship is likely, not merely to survive, but to flourish.
We are looking for kindness and tolerance and, I suppose, you might call
it warm-heartedness. Its actually heartbreaking how little love some children have known. Many have never had a meal cooked for them properly or been given a present on their birthday, or had someone come to watch them in a school play.
A constant problem is matching supply with demand. It is a sad indictment of our society that there are always children and young people who, for a variety of reasons, need foster care. Conversely, however, we are constantly amazed at the generosity and numbers of those who step up to the plate to provide it.
That said, we are always looking to recruit new foster carers so I would urge anyone who is interested to get in touch with us. The challenges can be considerable but I believe our foster carers would agree that with patience, fairness and genuine care, the joys far outweigh them.
One of our youngsters summed it up beautifully. This is the first time Ive believed I belonged somewhere, she said. My foster parents believe I can do anything - now, so do I.
Team Fostering is based at Unit 6, Hedley Court, Orion Business Park, North Shields, NE29 7ST and also has offices at Darlington. For further
information ring 0191 257 6806 or the Darlington office on 01325 368600.
About the author
Vicky Davidson Boyd came to the North East in 1981 to study psychology at Newcastle University, and never left. She has worked in children's services since 1984. She qualified as a social worker in 1990, and worked with a local authority children and families team before moving to Barnardos to work in adoption services for children with extra needs, and then South Tyneside, working in safeguarding children's services, where I worked regularly with children needing to come into foster care, or who Vicky joined Team Fostering as Assistant Director in 2009.