‘Want to foster in Hackney? Support and love is key – not your sexuality, race or religion’
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To celebrate LGBT history month, Hackney resident Amanda talks about her journey to becoming a foster carer, with the council’s support and training.
Like other London boroughs, Hackney is in need of more foster carers, to reduce the reliance on using costly independent agencies.
Thursday, February 1 marked the start of LGBT history month, so we spoke with newly approved and LGBT foster carer Amanda about her experience of the journey to becoming a carer.
As a teenager Amanda knew she wanted to become a foster carer when she grew up. She saw herself being married, having a family of her own and still welcoming children in care into her home to provide the love and support they need.
Despite being single, when the time presented itself, she did not let this deter her from pursuing the latter part of that dream.
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“I’ve always had a really strong social conscience, and the older I got the more I really wanted to do it and to help kids,” she says. “I was more concerned about being single than I was about being bi-sexual, but my friend advised me to start the process.”
A lot of people thinking about fostering are often put off by the assessment process, which can take up to six months. Amanda described the experience as ‘intense’ but says: “I had a great assessor who very much worked at my pace. It was a real revelation for me, I was dealing with things I hadn’t really touched on since I was a teenager, and as a 41-year-old woman was able to look back and learn from. It also made me realise how resilient I was.”
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As part of the support offered by the council, before the assessment starts, candidates are required to complete the Skills to Foster training devised by Fostering Network.
“Skills to Foster was really interesting; it can be quite emotional,” Amanda adds. “Some of the things we were hearing were quite new to me, it’s eye-opening yet I felt very comfortable asking questions.
“It was very inspiring to meet the care leaver; she was a student who had just graduated. So when you see the product of what a good foster home can support with that’s a real motivational element.”
Amanda also shared her surprise that some of the life experiences she had been through, rather than being a problem, highlighted how she might be able to empathise with a child coming into care.
Proud to foster for Hackney
“I choose to foster for Hackney rather than an agency because I’m in it to help a child,” explains Amanda.
“Personally, knowing that someone at an agency would be making a profit from it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.
“You want to be with a provider that supports you, supports the children and that is something Hackney has over a lot of other councils in the area – just look at the Ofsted reports.”
Hackney is a diverse borough and needs foster carers to reflect this. You need to have a spare bedroom in your property as a safeguarding measure, and also the patience and ability to implement boundaries in which a child can grow to achieve their best outcome.
“The key with any safe, secure environment for a child is love and support,” Amanda says, “and it doesn’t matter what colour, what sexual preference, or what religion you are.
“We are living in times where Hackney Council is looking very holistically at how these children are supported, so putting those barriers up wouldn’t make sense for the children in care.”
BENEFITS OF FOSTERING WITH HACKNEY COUNCIL
- Access to 24-hour support
- A dedicated social worker
- Training to support your needs and professional development
- Generous allowances
- Working relationship with the fostering service through monthly forums
- An active foster carers association (HFCC) offering support, advice, coffee morning and a host of other social engagements
- Free membership with the Fostering Network