Sharon, 55, and Tim, 57, have been foster carers for around four years and with Barnardo's for a little over a year. 

Sharon and Tim, foster carers

Sharon and Tim both worked in mental health until Sharon left to become a foster carer. Tim still works with people with severe mental illness, working through music and art therapy.

They have looked after three children in total, but the boy they have now, Chris*, has been with them a little over a year.

"The idea of being foster carers just came up in conversation and we talked about it for a couple of years on and off, so then we thought we should explore it. Once we had looked into it a bit more I decided to give up my job in order to do it" says Sharon. 

Through their work in mental health they had both supported adults who had been through the care system.

"We saw adults who had been in care in our jobs and it helped us in our decision to foster" says Tim.

Sharon told us: "Some of the adults never had the opportunity to have stability in their lives and I can't bear the thought of that happening to the boy we foster."

Short to long-term fostering

Sharon and Tim originally wanted to do short-term fostering lasting up to two years per placement, as they thought they might want some time without children at some point. However they have recently decided to apply to be permanent foster carers.

"We wanted to be there for Chris" says Sharon. "I hated the idea of him having to move on somewhere else and be moved around. We knew we didn't want him to go, because really he's lovely, he's a little joy! 

“I think with the right opportunities and chances in life - like all children should have - he can develop into a nice young man and hopefully we'll help him do that. We hope he will do well whatever he chooses to do, whether that's working in a burger bar or going to university - whatever makes him happy."

Progress made

Sharon and Tim have found fostering to be a rewarding experience, but of course one with its challenges. "One of the most rewarding things about fostering is that it’s really very simple on a day to day basis" says Tim. "Our child has a fantastic attendance at school now - he never had before - and the change is that he now sees he 'belongs' at school and he's caught up."

"I don't think you see how far you've gone when it's happening" says Sharon, "what you've achieved together because you're doing it day in and day out. But Chris has thrived and the school are so pleased with him. Everyone says he's like a different child - he's working and making everyone laugh."

*name changed to protect identity