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FOSTER CARE FORTNIGHT: Foster mum urges others across Tyne and Wear to consider fostering vulnerable children

FOSTER CARE FORTNIGHT: Foster mum urges others across Tyne and Wear to consider  fostering vulnerable children

Rebecca Sidell from Whitley Bay is calling on more people in the area to offer a safe home to vulnerable children and young people.

A foster mum from Whitley Bay is calling on more people in the area to offer a safe home to vulnerable children and young people.

As part of Foster Care Fortnight, which runs from Monday 11th – Sunday 23rd May, Rebecca Sidell hopes by sharing her experience she can encourage more people to think about fostering.

Rebecca, a single parent to two teenagers, left behind a career of more than 18 years to help change the lives of vulnerable children and young people.

Having worked for the civil service as a senior analyst, Rebecca was in search of something more personally fulfilling and decided it was the right time to pursue a career she’d always wanted – foster care.

In 2017, Rebecca left her job and became a full-time carer with The Fostering Company North East- an independent fostering provider - which is part of the Five Rivers social enterprise family - based in Killingworth. Speaking about the career change, Rebecca said: “I felt I’d gotten everything I could out of the civil service.

"I’d started there when I was just 24 but the job wasn’t giving me the personal satisfaction I needed any more and reaching my forties felt like a good time to make a change. Plus, with my children getting older I wanted a job where I could be at home a bit more".

Since then, Rebecca has been looking after a young boy named Ben who suffers from Global Developmental Delay, an umbrella term used when children are significantly delayed in their cognitive and physical development and therefore function younger than their age.

Ben also struggles with autism and ADHD but Rebecca has been taking as many opportunities as possible to learn about his needs and improve her care.

She said: “I was worried that without any previous experience I would struggle, but I’ve done more wide-ranging training in the last 18 months as a foster carer than I have done in the last 18 years. It wasn’t until I started looking after Ben* that I realised fostering really is a career path that you can develop in both professionally and personally.”

Speaking about what motivates her to continue to foster, Rebecca said: “Seeing how much Ben* has grown in the past two years is amazing. When he first arrived, he was completely non-verbal, but now his confidence has increased, and he can be a little chatter box.

Like with all jobs, there’s times when it can be hugely challenging, but it’s an amazing feeling when you see progress and helping a child with additional needs is even more rewarding.

“The Fostering Company has been amazing at providing specialist training and supporting myself and Ben throughout our whole journey. Ben’s needs can be really complex but our social worker knows us both so well and is always on the other end of the phone to help".

"The pandemic hasn’t reduced the support I receive, and I’ve never felt on my own".

“I think there’s this fixed perception that you need to be part of a couple to become a foster carer. But it’s so much more diverse, some of the best foster carers I’ve met are different ages, sexualities and from varied backgrounds. Giving children and young people a safe and loving place to call home is the number one priority, so to anyone considering fostering, don’t let any misconceptions stop you. Fostering is about being as supportive as possible and if you can provide that support, there should be nothing from stopping you supporting those in need of a home.”

Discussing Foster Care Fortnight 2021, Camilla Hunter, registered manager atThe Fostering Company, said: “Fostering can be an extremely fulfilling path for anyone who is looking to make a change in their life. Rebecca is an amazing example of a foster carer who has dedicated their time to creating a loving and welcoming home for a vulnerable child. She has really taken the time to educate herself on Ben’s* complex needs so it’s wonderful seeing how far the pair have come together.

“The Coronavirus pandemic hasn’t stopped us recruiting foster carers, as the need for children and young people to have stable and caring foster carers has not diminished. In fact, the number of children and young people across the UK needing foster care has risen dramatically during lockdown and we are really seeing this demand across the North East.

“We’re keen to hear from people from all backgrounds who are nurturing, compassionate and enjoy supporting others, as well as anyone who has questions about fostering and the variety of roles available. We provide training and round the clock support to ensure you can provide the best care to those in need.”

People from all walks of life can be considered to become foster carers as long as they are over 25 years of age. This includes single people, co-habiting people, people from the LGBT+ community and those living in rented accommodation. You will need a spare room for each foster child.

A career in foster care offers flexible working and a professional fee. For more information on foster care contact The Fostering Company North East on https://thefosteringcompanyneltd.co.uk/, call on 01912 836 774 or email info@thefosteringcompanyltd.co.uk.

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