I accepted this award nomination on behalf of all foster carers

Amanda’s story

Oct 31 2019

Amanda and daughter

“Dear Amanda,
I am writing to you regarding the Woman & Home Amazing Women Awards 2019. You were nominated in the ‘CARING FOR OTHERS’ category for your amazing role in supporting children and young people as a foster carer and I am delighted to tell you that from hundreds of entries, you have been chosen as one of our three finalists for this award.”

Hampshire foster carer, Amanda, was “gob-smacked” when she found out she was a finalist for the Woman & Home Amazing Women Awards, which her friend had nominated her for. “I felt very emotional considering the kindness of Gill nominating me for this award. Do I accept it or not?” Amanda says.

“There is a whole army of fantastic foster carers, adopters, and kinship carers throughout the country offering the same as me. A home, love, shelter and safety to children who have experienced unimaginable trauma and loss. I can accept this nomination on behalf of all of us!” she tells Woman & Home magazine.

Amanda’s fostering story:
“Earlier this year we experienced a fostering breakdown within our family; this has raised many difficult feelings of guilt, grief and questions for me. People sometimes ask me about fostering and claim they could not do it as they feel they would become too attached. I too become attached and accept that the grieving process is part of my role. My heart is frequently a squishy mess!

Sadly, not all children have the experience of a positive, nurturing environment and the damage this lack of attachment can cause the developing brain is likely to result in the child experiencing all sorts of emotional and behavioural difficulties, sometimes spanning a lifetime and rippling through the generations.

I became aware of the challenges these young people face in 2009 when I began my voluntary counselling work at the Information Shop; a wonderful charity in Chichester that offers counselling and advice to young people. I realised I wanted to do more to help these kids and would constantly exclaim, I just want to pop them in my pocket and take them home! I still feel the same way now! When the timing was right in 2011 our fostering journey began, and we began accepting children into our home.

I don’t do this alone, I do it with the fantastic support of my partner Rob and my daughter Tasmin, who is 26 years old.

It’s our job to help these kids make sense of their muddles. We do this by using therapeutic parenting and provide the safety the kids need in order to experience the joys of childhood, which some of them may have lost in their disjointed history. We like to provide a home that is nurturing, empathic and fun. We love going out and about and have realised activities that normal families take for granted, such as a picnic on the beach or a trip to the cinema can be novel for them.

It’s about opening their eyes to a new world full of possibility and allowing them to be kids; revisiting developmental milestones they may have missed. It’s about teaching life skills and helping them adapt to interpret new feelings of fun and enjoyment into their lives. It’s about looking for the meaning behind the behaviour. It is very rewarding but take off the rose-tinted glasses, looking after kids who have experienced trauma can also lead to compassion fatigue and blocked care, self-care, a good support network and resilience is vital.

These kids are not bad kids, they are kids who have had some really bad stuff happen to them. They are brave, resilient and strong – they are survivors! With these personality traits imagine how far these kids could go with the right support!

Although not a natural academic, the children inspire me to seek training to further develop my understanding of childhood trauma (and the impact on the developing brain) so I am better able to support them. I am currently studying a Diploma in Therapeutic parenting and one day I hope to be able to share my knowledge and help to educate others.

My dream would be for us to become a trauma-informed nation able to provide the best care for our most vulnerable children, whatever our role in their life. I take my inspiration from Sarah Naish, Dan Hughes, Bryan Post, Amber Elliot, Dan Siegal and a host of others leading us forward in understanding early brain development, trauma and therapeutic parenting.”

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