In the eight years since becoming foster carers, Helen and Alan from Aberdeen have cared for siblings, toddlers and children with additional needs.
When the couple first decided to become foster carers, they knew it was a big decision, especially as their own children had disabilities and learning difficulties.
Alan, 52, says, “It had been in the back of my mind as I had some positive memories from my childhood about friends who had been brought up in care. We just felt that we would be able to be there for a child who needed us.”
Since becoming carers, the couple have cared for five children. Their first child, aged 8 was a boy who was on the autistic spectrum.
Alan says, “He always really wanted to be social but didn’t have the skills to do so. He was quiet, a bit nervous. We supported him to make friends and how to be a good friend.”
Helen says, “By the time he left, he had played Joseph in his school’s Nativity. He stood up in front of the whole school and played the part. He could have actually told you everyone’s lines, not just his own. It was amazing.”
Alan added, “To see how this young boy had changed over the 18 months he had been with us was wonderful. His confidence and social skills had grown. We were so proud of him.”
When speaking about how they support young people in their care, Helen says, “As you would with your own children, you are there to help and support them. It’s often about teaching them life skills, the skills they might have missed out on. You have to take everything at their own pace and it can be difficult but it is worth it when they achieve even the smallest thing. We are always so proud of them.”
Helen and Alan are fostering advocates and praise the support they received from Barnardo’s.
Helen says, “We wouldn’t have missed this for the world. The support Barnardo’s has given us has been brilliant; they have been there for us when we need it. We’ve got to know other Barnardo’s foster carers too which is great. People say to us ‘I couldn’t do what you do’ but I think we show that anyone can foster. You just need to believe you can do it.
Alan said, “Being a foster family is like any family – you never know what is going to happen every day. There are challenges you face, but you work through them together as a family. It’s being a mum and a dad. That’s just what you do. We’re both so proud to be foster carers and to be able to make a difference to children who need it.”
When you decide to foster with us, we will be there for you every step of the way. We believe you can foster, and so should you.