This year we launched a programme with Islington Council to provide care-experienced young people with age-appropriate activities to support their education. We are also using this programme to raise awareness of the need for foster carers across Islington, and foster carer Amanda can tell us more about the challenges and the huge satisfaction she has experienced from helping children develop.
“I had thought about becoming a foster carer for a number of years, but it wasn’t until my youngest child went to university that I started looking into it properly. I knew I wanted to foster for my local authority and not an agency because I wanted to make a difference to my local community. I just searched on the internet, ‘how do you foster for Islington?’ and lots of information came up. It’s also on Facebook too.
“I’m a primary school teacher and I have seen directly how trauma affects children’s mental health and their ability to stay focused to learn. If they can stay in the area they’re familiar with and continue to go to the same school and be with their friends it really makes a difference. Providing that stability, having the privilege to watch a child or young person grow and start to reach their full potential is such a good feeling. It is without doubt the most rewarding role I have ever had.
“If people are interested in fostering, but are worried about negative stories they’ve heard, I would say just look into it. There are lots of myths about who can foster. It’s hard work, fun, frustrating and you will use all the skills you may have acquired if you are already a parent… and you’ll need more! The good thing is Islington has loads of really interesting courses, with new ones being added all the time. You will have your own Supervising Social Worker to guide you and we also have a Foster Carers Association, which means you’re not on your own. There’s a wealth of experience to tap into. We have weekly coffee mornings and arrange trips for the whole family.
“Arsenal provide a homework club for Looked After Children on a Tuesday after school and our young person loves it – he has made lots of friends. Most secondary school children in foster care don’t tell their friends at school they are fostered. They hate all the questions and just want to fit in with everyone else. It’s so beneficial to have a club like this because no one is going to ask loads of questions – the children can get on with making genuine friendships and just have some well deserved fun. At the homework club children get to complete their school work and play football afterwards. The club also provide the venue and food for Islington’s annual Virtual School Awards for our children and young people. It’s an evening where we get to celebrate our children’s achievements throughout that year.
“As a foster carer I have learned how to become a more professional parent. I’m trained in internet safety, healthy outcomes, child protection, grooming and gang culture, pediatric first aid… the list goes on and on. I have a much better understanding around challenging behaviour and the reasons behind it. Fostering has made me a much better parent, I wish I’d known all of this when my other children were younger… I’m sure they do too!”
Anyone interested in finding out more can contact Islington Council Fostering Service on 020 7527 7933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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