Open a whole new chapter in your life through fostering
September is a time for new beginnings, when children go back to school and teenagers leave the family home to embark on a new, independent life at university, work or college.
Bridgend County Borough Council is appealing to parents across Bridgend County to open a new chapter in their lives too and consider fostering.
People choose to become foster carers for a variety of reasons, their love of parenting, the joy of teaching, or the opportunity to help children create a better future. Some empty nesters see retirement as another opportunity to learn new things, and they still want to help children to become successful adults. Many enjoy having a house that is full of the fun and laughter of children. Some want to help children look on the brighter side of things and have a better outlook on life.
Most people can foster, you simply need to care about children, be a good communicator, have a spare room and be ready for the challenge. You don’t have to be married; you can be any age (minimum 21 years), gender or of any sexual orientation;and you don’t have to own your own home either.
Foster carers come from all walks of life, but they all have one thing in common – they have a place in their hearts for a child who needs love, support and understanding.
Foster carer Bev is currently providing support to a parent and child who live with her. Bev finds fostering very rewarding, she said: “I worked in a bank for 25 years, when I finished there, I thought, this is my opportunity to do something I really want to do! I spoke to my partner and my children, who were now grown up and able to look after themselves. We had the space in our house and we decided yes, we’ll go for it!
“We tested the water with respite care, to start off and then I found out that I could become involved with parent and child placements through Bridgend County Borough Council – something I really wanted to do.
“Since becoming a foster carer at the council, I’ve found them really helpful and supportive. You can call them morning, noon and night - anytime you have a query, no matter how big or small, they are there to help you.
“You attend some short courses to help you discover your fostering role and you also get the opportunity to meet and chat to other foster carers, and exchange ideas and advice. It’s a great support network.”
Cllr Phil White, Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help for Bridgend County Borough Council, said: “We have some fantastic foster carers in Bridgend County who day in and day out, make a real difference to the lives of young people. Being a foster carer can be challenging but I’m also told by our carers that the rewards are immeasurable.
“If you have found yourself with a bit of an ‘empty nest’ after your children have grown up and left home, fostering can be a way to use those valuable parenting skills you have gained over the years to help others.
“Our foster care team are more than happy to speak to anybody who is interested in finding out more – and if you do decide to become a carer there will be support, training and advice every step of the way.”
Fostering can be challenging, but is also a very rewarding opportunity to make a real difference to a child or young person who has experienced difficulties in his/her life.
If you’re ready to open a new chapter in your life and offer a safe and loving home for children in Bridgend County Borough, visit www.bridgendfostercare.wales/emptynesters to find out more or contact the fostering team on (01656) 642674.