“Fostering is the best job satisfaction you can get”
At St Christopher’s we look for foster carers of all backgrounds and life experiences to reflect the different backgrounds and life experiences of the children and young people we look after.
Jody has been a foster carer for five years with St Christopher’s in Essex, part of our Eastern Region. She currently looks after two young people, as well as her 15-year-old son.
What made you want to be a foster carer?
I wanted to be a mum from when I was young and always knew I wanted to be a foster carer after that!
My 15-year-old son still lives with me but my three older children have grown-up and had their own families, so one of the main reasons for fostering at this point in my life was because I missed having a busy house. I love it when the whole family comes over with all the grandkids.
Did you know you could foster as a single person?
No, I didn’t. I also thought I was too old because I was coming up to 50! But there isn’t an age limit on fostering and you can definitely be a foster carer if you’re single.
Being a single foster carer is the same as being a single mum really. Sometimes I think it’s easier to be a single parent because you make your own rules and don’t have two sets of opinions to disagree over.
It’s important for single carers to have a strong support network. Who is in yours?
My mum is just round the corner and my best friend is up the road. My three grown-up children are always there too and will do whatever I need in order to help. My sister was my biggest supporter but sadly she died a few years ago.
My son living at home enjoys being part of a foster family – it’s the happiest feeling ever when I can hear him and my two foster daughters sitting around the table, eating dinner together and laughing.
It’s nice for me to see the way my own children and my mum have accepted fostering. You can worry sometimes about how they will cope with it but it’s gone well – for example, my mum wanted to sign a card to one of my foster daughters as from ‘nan’, which shows how comfortable she is.
We have family parties and my two foster daughters join in with everything. This year we are all going on a camping holiday to the seaside as one big family.
How has St Christopher’s supported you?
The social workers are great, you can just ring them and they are there for you – it makes a difference having someone to talk to at the end of the phone. During the pandemic, support groups with other foster carers have been online so it’s easy to take part and catch up with people.
What has it been like fostering during the pandemic?
I actually haven’t found it hard at all, we have managed to spend lots of time together. My youngest foster daughter had a proper routine from her school, which made a big difference, and the oldest one went to work every day as normal. My son was out of his usual schedule but he did cope well and stuck to doing all his schoolwork. Last year the good weather made a difference as we were always in the garden or playing board games.
What has been your most rewarding fostering moment?
It’s got to be with my oldest foster daughter. She struggled all the way through school as she had been behind, so she came out with hardly any qualifications. She then got a job at a nursery and took on an apprenticeship – she works five days a week, plus she’s doing her Maths and English exams on top of that. She is doing amazing and never moans, she always seems to have so much energy even though she is doing so much! I always remind her she should aim high for everything in life and not let anyone pull her down as she’s worth so much more.
When you foster, you learn all the time about different people’s life experiences. One young person I looked after would always wear their coat and try to hide themselves away when we went for walks. Gradually I got them to take their hood down while we were out and about because they felt more comfortable and confident. Caring for this young person helped me to understand my son more too as he has Asperger’s and likes to do things in his own different way. Fostering is the best job satisfaction you can get and even the little wins make a big difference.
What would you say to a single person considering fostering?
Do it, just absolutely do it. It’s changed my life for the better. When I applied for fostering, I couldn’t believe I was going for my dream job and getting paid for it. I love taking the kids abroad on holiday and going out for meals with them – I wouldn’t be doing these things myself without fostering, so I want them to enjoy themselves as much as they can too.
Would you like to talk to someone about becoming a foster carer? Enquire today and a member of our friendly team will give you a call.