AYESHA AND FAROOK

“I grew up playing with the foster children from the family across the street – it was such a happy home I think it planted the seed of wanting to be a foster carer myself.

“We have four children of our own, aged 10 to 21, two of whom have severe sight loss, and for the last 7 years we’ve also looked after our foster daughter who has a life limiting condition.

“Her brother, who has autism, also lived with us for a while, but it became a struggle to care for him and eventually the placement broke down. That was really difficult for all of us. He still sees his sister and the relationship between them has become much stronger.

“Our kids see our fostered children as their brother and sister.

“It has been tough for all of us, but we have a good relationship with CANW and they’ve supported us through some challenging times.

“When I first became a foster carer I thought ‘will I be able to love these children like my own?’, but once you form that bond, it’s unconditional.

“I’d say to anyone who’s thinking of becoming a foster carer – give it a go, open your door, open your heart – you’ll never regret it.

“Being able to make a difference, to put a smile on a child’s face makes YOU feel happy. Just show them a bit of light and they’ll flourish.”

OUR ANN…

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“Fostering is the best thing I ever did.”

Ann and Tony, of Rochdale, have seven grandchildren and thought their house felt too quiet when they weren’t there so they looked into fostering for CANW (Child Action Northwest).

“We did some training with CANW and we quite enjoyed it so we thought it would be nice to change our outlook and do something like fostering,” Ann said. Tony, 58, started fostering in 2012 while Ann was still working as a nursery nurse. But she felt she was missing out so she left her job about six months later so she could spend more time with their foster children.  “We started off by giving supported lodging to a 16-year-old boy, who we had for over a year before we went into fostering. We then fostered two sisters for four weeks, aged three and four, who were adorable,” she said.

Ann, 57, says she has a special way of welcoming children into their home. “When they arrive they are often tearful, so I always say I need some help making some toast. By the time they have helped butter it and eat it the tears have usually stopped.”

They have also welcomed a 13-year-old girl into their home for 18 months, plus a six-year-old boy and his 10-year-old sister, who have been with them for the past three years.

“CANW have been superb, and our supporting social worker has been phenomenal. I would definitely recommend CANW to anyone considering fostering,” Ann said.

“The children we foster are so loving, and it’s great to give them so many new experiences and watch them turn a corner.

“What we get back from them is unbelievable. It’s been a steep learning curve but a fantastic one,” Ann added.

OUR JANET…

Janet, from Lymm, is 61. She started foster caring for CANW (Child Action Northwest) along with her husband Brian 7 years ago. Janet had retired from working as an assistant in special schools and says she was bored – even though she and her husband had her husband’s disabled brother to look after. Her husband was also retired, having run a mini cab firm which specialised in providing services for children from special schools. Janet, like many people, believed some of the myths around foster caring – she thought you needed to be rich, young and own your own home to foster – Janet says she thought she and her husband wouldn’t stand a chance as they were too old, didn’t have lots of money and lived in a council house.  A friend who fostered suggested she tried CANW and Janet and her husband were accepted to care for children with learning difficulties, physical disabilities and complex needs – one of the groups of children who are most in need of foster carers. Sadly, Brian passed away in 2014, but Janet continues to care for children, and for her brother in law Michael with the support of her friend Lynn, who acts as a co-carer.  Janet says she gets great pleasure from looking after the children she fosters, seeing them progress and develop – although she says it can be tough, and you never know what you’re up against until the child arrives. Looking after children with complex needs and disabilities is like being part of a team, as the carer doesn’t just have to deal with a social worker and school like most carers, they also have to liaise with health care support, doctors, nurses and special education providers.

Janet says she’s had lots of support from CANW to help her with the children who are placed with her, and the charity were particularly supportive after Brian passed away, even though the couple didn’t have a child living with them at the time.She says the training CANW has provided has helped her to boost and keep up to date the skills she used at work, and even helped her learn new skills which have helped her with her own grandchildren, such as how to keep children safe when they’re online.

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OUR RUTH…

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I love being able to make a difference to two little lives

“My husband Paul and I have been fostering with CANW for 3 years.

“We’ve got 8 children of our own between us, 23 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren, so we’re used to having lots of youngsters around the house.

“I’d always wanted to foster, but thought we couldn’t because we were already carers for our daughter Joanne, who had learning difficulties.

“When we got in touch with CANW, they were brilliant. They understood we couldn’t take on certain types of foster placement because Joanne had to be our priority, but they worked with us until they found us a good match.

“We’ve been looking after two young sisters for the last couple of years now, and it’s fantastic. It’s hard work, but I love that I’m able to make a difference to two little lives. The girls go to the same school as our grandchildren and most nights we’ve got 6 or 7 children round here for tea!

CANW have given us lots of help and support, especially after Joanne sadly passed away. We’re going through training courses to help us handle the difficulties our foster daughters’ experience, and at a recent meeting with our support workers they told us we’re a shining example of what foster carers should be, which really meant the world to both of us.”

OUR CATE & STEPHEN

We’ve been a fostering family for 11yrs and welcomed children and young people into our home. Our first placement was twin boys aged 14 months old and we helped move them onto their adoptive family; we still exchange greetings cards and get annual updates which is lovely. We have also helped a brother and sister return to their grandparents after 15 months and we exchange updates and cards with them.

Our long term placement were sibling brothers and they stayed with us for 7½ years and we are still very much in contact with both of them. Another placement we had was a parent and child placement where we helped with the bridging of baby into their adoptive family – we still receive updates and we built up a friendship with the parent and still meet up occasionally.

OUR MIKE

“I’m the main foster carer in the family, but my wife and I have been foster carers with CANW for 10 years now. We fostered through the local authority before we came to CANW. CANW’s different because there are lots of extras for the kids you care for. “Every holiday they put on an activity for the children at least once a week, there’s Christmas parties, celebrations and excellence awards for the youngsters and there’s other support too. “I get 25 hours co-caring a month and my son does that for me, so it gives me and the wife a chance to get out and about a bit. “You do get 2 weeks’ paid holiday a year, but I don’t know a carer who’s ever taken it, because if you go on holiday, you take all your kids with you too, don’t you?

“My only regret about fostering is not starting it sooner!

It’s all about making a change, giving a child a break, a chance in life. “Not every placement you have is a success, and you have to get your head around that, but with the ones that do succeed, you feel really proud.” Mike recently featured in the Bolton News, check out his article here: http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk

OUR KIM…

“As a small child my mum was always poorly and I spent a lot of time in respite care, so fostering has always been something I wanted to do myself, to give something back.“I’ve had children with disabilities, sibling groups, teenagers, parent and child placements and each one’s different, but I always enjoy the experience, and the challenges that each one brings.I’ve been with CANW for just over two years.

“There’s a lot more support than I thought there would be.”

They’re there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and they’re great with my own daughter, they support her when a placement ends, or if she’s just struggling to get on with a child who’s been placed with us. “For me fostering is all about watching the kids I care for achieve their goals and helping them at that short part of their life before they move on to maybe go back to birth families or move on for adoption. “There’s no doubt in my mind that my job is one I want to do until I retire. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

OUR STORY…By Dai Roberts and Paula Boyle

Our Story[2]

“We decided to become foster carers after providing lodgings to a young man in need and through him we were introduced to the care professionals who were supporting him. One day his Social Worker asked us if we had ever considered becoming Foster Carers and recommended CANW as a really good agency. That evening Dai and I talked about it and both agreed that we had something to offer children and young people, especially as our own kids had grown up and moved out.

We also agreed that our house felt a little bit empty and needed to feel like a home again. The next day we got in touch with CANW.

We shared our interest in becoming foster carers with family and friends and the responses we received varied from ‘that’s fantastic’ to ‘you must be bonkers!’. Some couldn’t understand why, when given the opportunity to enjoy being child free, we would consider a return to parenting. Luckily for us our immediate family were very supportive of the idea and we are so pleased that their support is still there for us, particularly from the Grandchildren who have made friends with nearly every child and young person that has been with us, even if it was only for a short time. We were approved in May 2013 having rst contacted CANW in October 2012. The application process, which involved preparation foster training and the completion of the ‘Form F’ took about 6 months. The ‘Form F’ looks a bit daunting at rst as it requires you to answer questions about yourself which can sometimes feel a bit intrusive, but I looked at it as if I was compiling a history of me…I found it was very therapeutic and it made me look at the journey that my life has taken and also helped me understand how bene cial it can be for children and young people to have their own life story work. So far we have welcomed lots of children and young people to our home because we have a wide approval range and within that approval we have been able to offer a home to young people on remand from court as well as respite breaks and short and long term foster care. We have been fortunate to meet so many new faces with each one of them having their own individual needs and their own unique story.

We have called so many times we can now joke that we have CANW on ‘speed dial”

We will continue to foster because we have the room in our home and more importantly…in our hearts. Yes there are times when you feel deated and defeated but just when you start questioning your sanity, the tiniest change occurs that can signify what is a huge breakthrough in the life of the child or young person. The way that makes you feel is beyond rewarding and it melts your heart.

 We would recommend CANW to anyone thinking of becoming foster carers.

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Cate & Stephen

Cate & Stephen