Fostering has become a way of life for Debbie
- Credit: Adam Holt
Hackney’s Fostering Service needs more foster carers. Here, one of it’s best, Debbie Douglas, reveals how rewarding she has found the role.
Twenty-seven years ago, life changed for Debbie Douglas. Since then, she has gone on to foster more than 200 children for Hackney and earned herself the title of National Fostering Ambassador.
Change is something we all experience; it can be empowering, rewarding and it can reveal more about us than we ever knew. Thinking back to the start of her fostering career Hackney Foster Carer, Debbie, recalls “I was sitting in a restaurant and struck up a conversation with a young, beautiful lady on the next table; although she did seem stressed with a baby crying and a toddler wanting to go to the loo. Within no more than 20 minutes she explained that the two children were in fact fostered. At that moment I decided I would love to do that. I do not know where she lives or her name, but she took my number and said she would pass it onto her social worker.”
Choosing to foster is choosing to make a change to your life, your family and more importantly a child or young person in need. Debbie says: “After leaving school at 16, I worked very hard and was soon flying around Europe as a sales executive for a designer jeans company. No one believed I would ever have children, in fact I doubted I was cut out for motherhood. Then after this brief encounter, I jumped into a world I knew little about, I learned that fostering isn’t for the faint hearted, yet I cannot think of any other path that would have taught me so very much about life.”
For children and young people coming into care, whether it is for a short time or until they are young adults, this is a daunting experience and they need the right people around them to guide and support them through it. Children and young people come into foster care for a variety of reasons. Having a foster carer that is willing to stick by them, be understanding of what they have been through and what they need to get through it, is what makes the difference. Sometimes we choose change, sometimes it happens outside of our control, but having the right people around you, to support you, hold your hand, lend a listening ear, or to give you advice, makes it easier to deal with.
“I should say at this point that I could never do what I do alone. We are a foster family who open our home, but more importantly our hearts to children who need us,” adds Debbie.
As a foster carer with Hackney, you also benefit from the support of a dedicated team of professionals who understand the work you do within fostering as well as the support of other foster carers, including Hackney’s very own Foster Carers’ Council.
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“I am without doubt many things to many people,” says Debbie. “As a foster carer I am a therapist without the letters after my name; I am a mum in every possible way; I am a nurse when they are ill; I am a teacher; a sports personality; a friend when no one else is; my job description is endless.”
Hackney’s Fostering Service is looking for people who are seeking a change; who want to make a difference to the lives of these children and help them achieve the best they can with the hopes of creating a stable future. 2020 caused all of our lives to change. Whether it was discovering new ways to do things or adopting new roles, we have all had to learn to live with new routines and guidelines. You have made it through 2020, what will you make of 2021?
To find out more about fostering with Hackney, call us on 020 8356 4028 or email your details to fostering.recruitment@hackney. gov.uk to arrange a call back.
Could you foster?
A lot of people have a number of misconceptions about who can foster, but the truth is there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ foster carer.
There are statutory requirements that need to be met such as being over 21 and capable of meeting the demands of parenthood, in reasonably good health, fit and well enough to care for children into adulthood. You don’t have to own your home, but you do need to have a secure tenancy with a spare bedroom for one or more children. We also welcome enquiries from single people wanting to foster.
Whilst we do not discriminate on the grounds of class, race, culture, sexual orientation or disability, due to the nature of fostering you do need to have a good standard of English to help you support a child’s education, as well as making notes and attending meetings with other professionals.
Fostering can be a very demanding role and although you don’t have to give up work to foster, you do need to consider what flexibility you have in your lifestyle to manage the varying demands. Fostering is not something you do alone, Hackney provides support via your social worker as well as other foster carers, but it is also important for you to look at your general support network and whom you may be able to turn to for emotional or hands-on support. We even encourage your support network to get involved in the training available to those thinking of fostering and once approved.
To find out more about fostering with Hackney, call 020 8356 4028 or email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a call back.