Foster Care Spotlight: Vikki & James Sheekey

Foster Care Spotlight: Vikki & James Sheekey

How long have you been foster carers?
We have been foster cares for just over a year. 

Why did you want to be a foster carer?
I wanted to become a foster carer to give children a loving and safe home. I pitched this to my family and they fully agreed! We have ended up with parent and baby placements, we didn’t expect this, but are still able to mirror a happy family and support parents with their babies. 

How have you found being foster carers?
We couldn’t love it anymore! We have realised this is what we are meant to do! It comes with pros and cons, but the pros outweigh the cons massively! 

How has your family found being a fostering family?
My family have been really supportive to the people we have welcomed into our home. Our children especially, have shown empathy and kindness – we all play a part and work as a team.

Have there being any unexpected challenges/pleasant surprises?
We had a challenging time with our first placement, he wasn’t interested in being with the mother of his baby and showed this in really challenging ways. I was supported fully by the on call staff while this panned out. Also, working with a certain LA was challenging, there was no communication and social workers changed weekly! However, on the plus side, we were pleasantly surprised by how much support we have been offered within our company – so we never felt alone. 

Would you recommend fostering if so why?
Without a doubt! I would encourage everyone who can, to foster! It’s changed our lives for the better, and those that have stayed with us. A simple gift of giving someone a happy and safe environment to live in has got to be the most rewarding role ever! It has definitely opened the eyes of my children and their friends, seeing how different people’s lives can be, they feel very lucky to have the life they have. 

Staff & Foster Care Spotlight: Hayley Roberts

Staff & Foster Care Spotlight: Hayley Roberts

You’re now a PCC employee, can you tell us your role and what you’ll be doing?

My new role is titled Apprentice Social Worker. I will be studying with the Open University for 3 years to gain a degree in social work alongside working for PCC. My time will include co-working with the PCC social workers, learning from their experience and observing their practice. You may see me at visits to your home, or virtually in meetings and training. I will also be working closely with Sunny, organsing fostering promotion events to try and recruit new foster carers to PCC.

Why have you decided to retrain and start on a new path?

I am passionate about people and making a positive contribution to the world. Through my previous job in education and in my role as a foster carer I have met many social workers. Some have been – well shall we say – not great! But many have inspired me and been brilliant with children and families. I will turn 50 this year and decided that for the next part of my working life I want to be one of those inspiring social workers who is good at the job and genuinely cares about children. So I took the plunge and challenged myself to essay writing, reflecting on reading and putting it all into practice!

What are you looking forward to in your new role and what are your reflections so far?

I am looking forward to meeting new people, learning about the law and social work, working with the brilliant staff at PCC and growing the fostering community. Initially moving from the world of education to study social work was a bit of a shock. The pace of life is very different and learning to write essays after nearly 30 years of barely writing a paragraph has been a challenge! I am so happy though and excited about what the next few years will bring as we grow PCC together.

Will you remain as a foster carer?

Mark & I will still be fostering – we are currently supporting three beautiful young people through the end of their care journey and hope to continue to offer children a space in our home when these guys have left. We also hope to be available to support other foster carers with their placements.

Your foster children are young adults now, how have you found leaving care and ’staying put’?

‘Staying put’ has been an interesting journey and whilst there is a lot that doesn’t work with it we have, where possible, used it to the young person’s advantage. Our eldest foster daughter has gone to university. Agreeing a ‘staying put’ arrangement with the local authority has guaranteed her a place to come back to in the holidays and a much needed sense of security. For us the work continues with her; phone calls (sometimes daily), supporting financially, adminitrively, driving/transporting her and of course having some good well earned breaks from Uni at home with our family.

Would you recommend fostering?

Of course! Fostering is relentless and challenging but so rewarding. Our birth and extended family have learned to include, love and give themselves in a way that no training course, degree or meditation app could have revealed. Whilst there have been many difficult times we all agree that we are a better family, a stronger community and have so much to be grateful for from our fostering. Our foster children have become part of us and we struggle to remember life without them.

Foster Care Spotlight: Talitha Day

Foster Care Spotlight: Talitha Day

What made you want to become a foster carer at such a young age?

I wanted to help vulnerable young children. I felt although I was young I had a wealth of experience as my family had foster kids ever since I could remember. I also had a baby very young so I had to grow up and I learnt a lot at a young age. 

What would your advice be to someone who was interested in becoming a foster carer?

Do it and if it doesn’t work out at least you can say you tried.

What has felt like your biggest achievement as a foster carer?

Having two children who were in my care from a hard situation. Watching two adoptive parents adopt them and then transition into a family who loved them. I was able to form a relationship with them and still get updates on them and it’s a beautiful journey to watch.

What do you do when you’re not fostering? 

I like to spend quality time with my daughter as a lot of her time is given to the foster kids too. We like to go shopping, cinema and out to eat. I also a few times a year take some time to travel which I love. 

What was your experience of Mother and Baby placements like?

I have found it very challenging not being able to intervene in the way I would do things, instead having to support a mother figure things out for herself. Unfortunately I have not had a placement where the mother was able to keep her baby and this is quite upsetting. My focus is always what is best for the baby so at the end of the day what is right is for them is the best outcome but it is a hard experience.

Foster Care Spotlight: Phil & Emma

Foster Care Spotlight: Phil & Emma

How long have you been Foster Carers?
We were approved to become foster carers in September 2019, and our first foster child arrived in the middle of December. So, it’s been six months so far.

Why did you want to be foster carer?
There are lots of reasons. We both grew up in hospitable households, where people often came to stay… and we’ve always tried to live this way too. We’ve both worked with children and young people over the years, and many of these have been vulnerable, which made us aware of the need for good carers. And after many conversations with friends and family who have adopted and fostered, we decided to go ahead with the training… and here we are.

How have you found being carers?
Challenging. Heart-breaking. Tiring. Stretching. An adventure. We’ve cried a few times but we’ve laughed loads too. Fostering was a whole family decision for us, but we knew that Emma and I would carry the weight of the responsibility. However, we didn’t anticipate how much of a team effort it would become and how much it would impact our family life in positive ways. We love the extended-family dinnertime conversations.

Have there being any unexpected challenges/pleasant surprises?
Lots. The case notes weren’t very comprehensive, and so we learned a lot of new stuff about T during his first few days with us. He’d also been in a few very short-term placements before he arrived with us, so he was understandably unsettled. And then it took a long time to get any education in place, mainly because of his additional needs, which meant that we were full-time for the first three months, with no respite. Having said all of that, there are ‘pleasant surprises’ every week… small improvements in behaviour, signs that he is feeling more settled.

How has lockdown impacted on fostering for you?
We already had T at home 24-7, so the ‘lockdown’ didn’t make a huge difference. However, educational support had just been agreed, and so it got moved online, which wasn’t easy to manage. The ‘lockdown’ probably affected us more than T in that it’s been harder for us to go out and get some respite.

Would you recommend fostering?
Yes. It’s not for everyone, of course, but it definitely has been for us. And the need for more foster carers is great.

Foster Care Spotlight: Mekonnen & Rahael

Foster Care Spotlight Mekonnen & Rahael

Why did you want to be a foster carer?

We wanted to help children who had come to the UK from other countries and cultures. We have friends who had been foster carers and had supported and looked after children and young people in similar circumstances and seeing them do it inspired to help and become foster carers ourselves. 

How have you found being a Foster Carer? 

We’ve fostered for over a year and it’s different to being a parent. The children that you foster may have had some really difficult experiences in their journey and may have lived in very different families to ours. We’ve learnt to approach things differently to how we did with our own children, perhaps coming from a different angle or asking a different way trying to understand the different culture or experience that they’ve had. 

It’s been rewarding to see the children develop healthy, close and appropriate relationships with our children. Specifically, my son is close in age to the young person that we foster and they enjoy each other’s company and share a passion for sports. It’s been really rewarding to do what we hoped we could and provide a young person with a home. 

Would you recommend fostering?

Yes, if you want to help children and feel that you have the time and space then I would definitely recommend fostering.