Lynda and Simon became foster carers almost by accident. Their son and his fiancé brought round a friend for dinner - she was young, pregnant and staying in a mother and baby refuge in Andover. “[Steph*] was brought up in care and was in placement because she was in an abusive relationship. She would come round for dinner and join us on weekends.” says Lynda, “then one day we said, if you ever need us, we’re here - we had 3 or 4 empty rooms at the time”. Steph was soon asking if they meant what they had said.
The next day, they made all the necessary phone calls to social services and became connected carers. Steph stayed with them for six months. “Our supervising social worker said, ‘you’ve done a really job would you like to carry on?’ So, we did.” says Lynda. 7 years later, Lynda and Simon have since fostered eight young mothers and their babies.
Adult and child fostering isn’t the only type of placement Lynda and Simon welcome in their home. They have fostered asylum seekers and teenagers too, both short-term (from a week up to two years) and longterm (more than two years).
Joe* originally came for a month’s break, but he’s stayed with us for four years now and his confidence has grown so much. He applied for head boy at school and he did an excellent job - to see him flourish is lovely. At first, he was skinny, stressed and quiet; so, to see him give his head boy speech on stage talking to everyone at the school was brilliant.” says Lynda. “We want Joe to know we’re here for him, that there’ll always be somewhere for him to come home to. His relationship with his parents is better than it’s ever been but still a bit fragile.” she says, “On my birthday he bought me a little heart decoration which said ‘you don’t need DNA to be my parent’ - he said he was a little disappointed when it arrived in the post because he wanted the heart to be bigger than it was.”
It is possible to work full-time and foster, which is what Simon was doing when he first became a foster carer. When redundancy came up at Simon’s work, the timing couldn’t have been better. “It was a nobrainer - I really enjoy fostering. We take it in our stride and we both love it. Now we get so much quality time together as a couple. When we were both working, we were coming home exhausted all the time, doing silly hours. We’re still busy but we have lots more quality time now. Fostering has changed our lives together. Before we were just paying the bills, working, cleaning the house… now it’s paying the bills and having fun. It’s a pleasure to do it all - fostering has been a real benefit.” he says.
Hampshire County Council offer foster carers good support and training, such as ‘Skills to foster’ stage-one training, which Lynda also helps with. “We get a lot of support from other foster carers - they don’t impose it but it’s there if you want it. There is a network of people and a WhatsApp group of foster carers who meet once a month for a coffee. There’s always someone to talk to.” she says, “Believe in yourself because a lot of people think they can’t foster and wouldn’t be suitable, but that’s not always true.”
Start your fostering journey with us today. Hampshire County Council has an outstanding OFSTED rating, reflecting all the work that takes place to help children reach their potential. We offer good support, fee allowances and extras for holiday, birthdays and Christmas. If you, or someone you know has the potential to start fostering please get in touch with Fostering Hampshire Children today - call 0300 555 1384 or visit www.hants.gov.uk/fostering