A mother-of-two has spoken about her experiences of fostering as part of this year’s push to encourage more people to enquire about becoming a foster carer.
Gaynor Brown, of Preesall, who has been fostering for seven years is encouraging others to follow in her footsteps and consider fostering children in need of a home.
The 51-year-old will be the face of this year’s Foster Care Fortnight campaign, which runs from May 13 to 26 with the theme of Change A Future.
Preston-based fostering and adoption charity Caritas Care will share a video of her experiences on their social media channels, along with interviews with her son Cameron and foster daughter Sarah.
After taking redundancy from the NHS, the former medical secretary said it felt like the right time to pursue something she had wanted to do for a long time – so not only did it change her future, it changed the future of those she went on to help.
Read about the process here: Here is what you need to know about the fostering process as part of Foster Care Fortnight
Gaynor, who had two children already, says: “My husband, Stuart, and I have been talking about fostering for some, but there had never been an appropriate time.
“Just by chance, I was out shopping at Preston’s Deepdale Retail Park with my eldest daughter, Ashleigh, and Caritas Care had a stall there. Someone approached us and asked if I had ever thought about being a foster carer. It was like fate.
“I have moved around a lot myself so I know how children might feel if they are moving around and going to deprived areas. We live in such a lovely area and we don’t feel we have done too badly with our children, so we wanted to give someone else a chance."
After going through all the necessary checks and training courses, Gaynor and husband Stuart agreed to offer respite for children requiring short-term placements in the first instance.
After a few short-term placements the couple welcomed Sarah, a teenage girl, into their home. Sarah, now 20, lives independently but still sees Gaynor regularly.
Six months ago, Gaynor and her family started caring for two young girls who needed an emergency placement. That placement has now become longer term.
Gaynor adds: “Overall the process took 10 months. Caritas really go into your background, which is only right as the local authority are giving you a child to look after.
“We chose Caritas as it was a charitable organisation and it has a church background. It is all a bit daunting but the social workers are lovely. You have all these people looking into you but it is important to find the right person.
“It’s a privilege to provide a loving home for a child. Somewhere they feel safe, secure and wanted. You don’t need to be a blood relation to be family.”
Gaynor admitted initially, her youngest son, Cameron, who was seven at the time, found it difficult, but now he finds it exciting and enjoys welcoming new members to his family.
Gaynor says: “My children found it daunting to start with. There is a big age difference between my children, as my youngest is 14 and my eldest is 25 so we had to find the right age group to match both of them.
“Cameron was only seven and he got a bit jealous to start with. He was used to sharing me with his older sister, but not used to sharing his dad. So we decided to take in teenage girls as he was used to that and they were more likely to spend time with me.
“As time has gone on, he has matured and is used to it now.
“Both my children are excited by it.
“I have to admit is it easier now as I am not working. When I had my own children I could not afford to give up work, but now I can, so I gave up my role as a medical secretary to foster. I feel as though I am being paid to be a home.
“The children are at school so I can do housework and then my time is for them when they get back.”
Gaynor cherishes her time with her family, as she explains: “I enjoy watching them grow and turn into the most wonderful people.
“It does have its ups and downs, and its hard work sometimes – but it can be with your own family. It’s not always an easy ride, but it’s 10 times harder for the children involved who have already been through so much at such an early age.
“It’s so rewarding. Your life changes – but for me it has changed for the better. I would definitely recommend fostering with Caritas Care.
“I would say, any parent can do it. If you have the room in your house and a big heart, you can do it.”
For more information contact the Caritas Care team on 0800 652 6955 or visit www.caritascare-ifoster.org.uk