Husband and wife team Ann and Brian, from Northern Ireland have been providing love and support to children in care for 14 years.
Brian, 59, says, “We first began to think about fostering when our son was getting ready for university. Our neighbours had been fostering two little girls and seeing them together and happy encouraged us to want to do it too.”
One young man, an asylum seeker, joined Ann and Brian aged 15. Now 21, he has left the care system but is still living with the couple, who support him in every way they can.
Brian says, “There was a bit of a language barrier to start with and his status as an asylum seeker means he is unable to drive or work but he has fitted in so well with us – so much so, he’s still with us!
“We’re happy to give him the support he still needs, you don’t stop needing loving parents just because you’ve turned 18.”
The couple also keep in touch with a child who was placed with them as a toddler.
Ann, 62, says, “They couldn’t speak when they first came to us, they would just point to things, but over the weeks and months I would just play and play with them and their speech just came on amazingly.”
Brian continued, “It was just amazing to see the difference in the child from when we first met them. It’s so rewarding to know we were part of their journey to becoming the confident young person they are today.”
“We think a lot of people rule themselves out; we had a friend who got divorced and we said to her, ‘why don’t you enquire about fostering?’ And she said she didn’t realise she would be able to as she was single.”
Brian continued, “She’s now been fostering for four years and loves it. We really would encourage everyone to find out more about it as it really can change your life in such a positive way.
Ann says, “Fostering keeps us young. Every time I iron another school shirt, I feel young again. There is never a dull moment. We love having the young people with us.”
Brian added, “I do the school run every morning; it gives me a purpose. It’s our purpose to give these young people somewhere safe and to continue to support them.”
Like Ann and Brian, you too could give children and young people the future they deserve.