The shared values needed to foster

Amber’s story as an Army Reservist and member of the fostering team

Jul 1 2020

Amber's story

Who can foster? This is a question that many people ask us and the truth is, there is no ‘perfect’ person. Anyone can apply to foster, providing they’re 21 years old or over and have a spare room. Care experience is ideal but if you don’t have much then we can help you find places to volunteer.

My name is Amber and I’m the marketing and communications officer in the fostering recruitment and assessment team. If I’m perfectly honest, I had no background of Children’s Services prior to joining the team over a year ago. My previous marketing experience has been in conservation, specifically for a well-known heritage building and a wildlife trust – all non-profit organisations with a good cause, so I think. By joining the fostering team, I felt like I could make a real difference to the lives of Hampshire children. Since joining the team I’ve immersed myself in research, participated in training, shadowed other fostering teams and spoken to many foster carers. I’ve learnt a lot about the fostering service and continue to learn every day.

Alongside my full-time job at Hampshire County Council, I’m an Army Reservist. I’m a combat medical technician attached the Royal Wessex Yeomanry where I have a great opportunity to learn new trade skills, meet new people and challenge myself to do things I never thought I could achieve. I didn’t think I would complete my basic training; the last day of exercise consisted of running for what felt like miles and miles at 4am after a sleepless night in a shell scrape and a massive, heavy bag on my back. I also didn’t think I would be able to ski without breaking a leg, but I did that too and won best beginner in the regimental Yeomanry competition two years ago. I’ve also started sharing my medical knowledge to the cadets in my local area. My point is, you can do anything you set your mind to, whether that be fostering or joining the British Army.

I’ve come to the realisation that foster carers and armed forces personnel are very similar. They share many values so if you’ve got what it takes, you can foster.

  • Respect for others
    We must treat everyone how we wish to be treated ourselves. Whether you’re speaking to a young child, an officer, a social worker or a trooper, it’s important that we embrace diversity and value each other for our contributions.
  • Discipline
    You need to be able to do the right thing even under the most difficult of circumstances. As a foster carer, you need to advocate for the child in care. There is plenty of support and training within the fostering community to help you.
  • Loyalty
    Loyalty is an important factor to create a cohesive team. At Hampshire County Council we have a brilliant fostering community, with many of our foster carers looking after our children for over 20 years.
  • Selfless commitment
    Selfless commitment is a foundation of military service. Similarly, foster carers must be prepared to support the child in their care where and when required. That may be attending training, promoting contact with children’s birth family or advocating for the child.
  • Courage
    As a foster carer it’s important to have moral courage, to be able to stand up for what is right even if that means challenging the status quo.
  • Integrity
    Being honest and truthful is crucial within the fostering service as we need to ensure our Hampshire children are in safe hands. During your assessment process you will develop a close working relationship with your assessing social worker. They will ask you about the various aspects of your life, including your previous relationships, finances and your health and wellbeing.

If your ex-forces, or still serving, consider becoming a foster carer. Your marital status, sexuality, ethnicity, and education do not determine your suitability to foster. Our foster carers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and are of all abilities who can offer children a fulfilling and active life. As long as you can perform key fostering activities, such as the school run or paediatric first aid (which we’ll provide training for), then we will consider your application.