Yvonne and Amanda from Co Durham started their fostering journey with Barnardo’s in 2014. They were initially approved as short-break carers, caring for children for short, planned, breaks away from their birth families or carers. “It was a massive career change but because we loved it so much we wanted to do more of it and now we’ve got a permanent placement” says Yvonne.
The couple have been in a relationship for over 13 years and have no regrets about fostering “…we’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s the best thing I’ve done. And it’s helped our relationship because you work as a tag-team with the children” says Yvonne. Their first foster child was diagnosed with autism; “…he asked quite openly whether we lived together and shared the same bedroom. The answer to both was yes and he was completely fine by it”.
The couple haven’t always been accepted by society in the past, however their experience with Barnardo’s has been “second to none” as they explain that even though they’re aware of some of the barriers LGBT people may worry exist when it comes to fostering, their advice is to “just go for it, you will get beyond the initial apprehension and will be given all the answers you need”.
With the couple both being from a background in social work and with Yvonne having children of her own, the couple’s main challenges were being able to understand and help children with challenging behaviours, Amanda says “there is always someone there at the end of phone from Barnardo’s to listen to you and to give you the advice you need to handle the situation”. The initial stages of the assessment were most beneficial in terms of learning about the complex needs of children who may be placed with them, Amanda says “our social worker was always genuine and was always there to help”.
Caring for children with challenging behaviours or learning difficulties can be hard, but “seeing a young person grow, develop and improve, it makes the hairs at the back of neck stand up”. Barnardo’s will help, train and support at every stage of your journey; the couple go on to say “the first 3-6 months of the fostering is not plain-sailing, this is the time when you are learning, getting to know each other, inviting someone to your home; they have to accept total strangers as care givers – but Barnardo’s make sure they match you as best as possible and make the transition for the young person as easy and comfortable as possible. But they also understand that the foster carers need to feel comfortable with placement as well. And at the end of it all, there is a heart-warming, heart wrenching kind of happiness.”
With Barnardo’s you don’t have to own your own home to foster. Whether you are single, or in a relationship, together, we can help change lives.