Harlow couple in their 60s urges residents to become foster carers no matter their age.

Lifestyle / Tue 5th Oct 2021 at 07:54am

WHILE thousands of parents and guardians were waving off their young adults to university last month, it reminded Mick and Pauline Davis of their own situation. They started fostering after their own children left the family home but regret not fostering sooner.

Essex County Council is today urging more people like Mick and Pauline to consider becoming foster carers. By providing a safe and nurturing environment, Essex foster carers are enabling young people to reach their full potential. For some, that may be giving them stability to concentrate on their studies, and for others, it can be instilling confidence in them to pursue their own happiness.

The couple from Harlow, who have been fostering for 10 years, credit their life experience, their family’s support, and the training by Essex County Council to helping them foster children, many who have had a traumatic start in life, developing them into young adults. Together they helped them to reach their potential and transform their lives.

Mick says: “When our foster children first come to us, they have been through a lot in their young lives. All they really want is for us to be an advocate for them and to stand in their corner, to show them that they are cared for and looked after.

“Our current foster daughter has been with us for four years. Early on, we noticed that she was interested in sport and was extremely fast. She would outrun abled bodied children at school, so we helped her find out more about becoming a professional athlete. She has just won a gold medal in the Manchester under 20s competition and is heading towards being part of the GB Paralympics Team. We are so proud.

“She’s successful because of her own skill and determination – we just pointed her in the right direction and supported her with the practicalities. But, without that the experience could have been overwhelming for such a young person. As she grows up, she is becoming more independent and with just a little guidance from us she is able follow her dream.”

Foster carers can be single, married, from a same-sex family or retired. There is also an active network of support groups providing opportunities to meet and learn from other foster carers with many going on to make long-term friendships. Essex County Council offers high-quality bespoke local training to all foster carers and provides ongoing support.

Cllr Beverley Egan, Cabinet Member for Children Services and Early Years at Essex County Council, said: “Our foster carers help build better, brighter futures for hundreds of children across Essex every year. We desperately need more people, like Mick and Pauline, to foster on a full and part-time basis for either short or long-term placements. We have a particular need for foster carers who can support older children over age 10 and children with disabilities”.

Mick and Pauline, who are in their mid-Sixties, initially discounted themselves from fostering because they thought they were too old.

Mick said: “You can be any age from 21 upwards to become a foster carer. Being in your 50s, or older, doesn’t make any difference. Anyone can become a foster carer; all you need is love in your heart and a commitment to improving children’s lives. It also doesn’t matter what gender you are. I’m the main foster carer and it works perfectly!”

Mick and Pauline really urge anyone thinking of fostering to just go for it.

“Whilst foster carers help children in need, emotionally and mentally, so that they can become whatever they want to be, it also enriches your own life at the same time.

“If you’re thinking about fostering just do it. Encompass it, you’d be surprised how much you like it and how much you get out of it.”

Find out more by visiting https://www.essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk/fostering The phone line is also still open: 0800 801 530.

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