Behind Liz and Rob’s front door

Archived: Posted July 11, 2017

 ‘’ You don’t have to do anything specific, just be there for that young person, and be a family.’’ 

Meet Liz (44) and Rob Billingham (49) from Blackpool who have been foster carers with Foster Care Associates (FCA) for four years.

Although new to foster care Liz and Rob Billingham have had years of experience caring for others. The couple have two daughters aged 14 and 20 and before entering their fostering journey with FCA had a successful family run nursery business. Describing how her passion for fostering began Liz said:

‘’I always considered fostering but years ago I felt that my daughters may have been too young so decided it was best to wait until they were a little older and more settled within themselves. At the time I had my own business and my decision to foster was cemented whilst running my nursery. I felt a real passion for looking after children and believe this experience helped motivate and equip me to do the best job I can as a foster carer.”

‘’When Rob and I decided the time was right we closed the business and explored the option of fostering. I knew it would allow me to spend more time with the children at home so I googled fostering and that’s when I came across Foster Care Associates.  The website really captured my interest and the initial contact person made me feel at ease straight away.”

‘’Although the family weren’t completely sure what to expect, the promise we made to tackle any concerns or challenges together as a family put our daughters at ease about the whole process and meant they were on board and happy for us to start fostering. The feeling of the unknown is still relevant now four years down the line when a new foster child or young person is due to stay with us, but we’ve kept true to our promise and we haven’t come across a situation we haven’t been able to easily manage. ‘’

Over the years Liz and Rob have looked after several emergency and respite placements as well a two year long term placement. Liz describes reactions she has received from people with regards to the couple fostering. She said:

‘’People often refer to us as angels when they find out that Rob and I have opened our home to children and young people but the truth is they probably don’t realise that we get more out of this experience than the young people. They bring such joy to our home and we often feel this experience has completed our family.”

‘’Of course there can be some challenging times but we try and see these in a positive light. You don’t always see it at the time and when a child arrives with challenging behaviour you never really know how things will turn out, but somehow we always seem to get there in the end and when you’ve reached a good place with the child or young person it is truly the most rewarding feeling.”

‘’Issues usually get ironed out naturally, as the child becomes more settled and comfortable in their new environment they tend to open up to you and speak up about things they may find challenging or feelings they may be experiencing.”

‘’There’s no real knack to it, or heaps of knowledge you need to be aware of, nothing can fully prepare you for fostering either. You don’t have to do anything specific, just be there for that young person, and be a family. Just as you’d listen and teach your own children, that’s all a foster child wants. There really is no difference. ‘’

Liz goes on to describe how FCA is as hands on as possible in supporting all foster carers, and encourage carers to grow into the fostering role without unnecessary interference. She said:

‘’With FCA it works in two ways. They have amazing support and good, quality training and are there at a moment’s notice if you need them, however, they are also great at empowering you when you want to have that independence to grow in your role as a foster carer, which is how I like it.”

‘’Another huge support in fostering is spending time with other foster carers which is something I find extremely beneficial.  You find yourself going through very similar situations however, other carers often have different opinions and techniques when it comes to the best possible care for children and young people. This can be a really interesting way to continue training and learning new things.’’

Liz and Rob reflect on their time with FCA and also shared a really special fostering memory with us. Liz said:  ‘’When reflecting on memorable moments whilst fostering it’s usually the smaller things that stand out the most. For example when our long term placement was first staying with us he had trouble sleeping, something he had been dealing with most of his life.  After a few months with us he eventually began sleeping through the whole night. The first time he told us he had the best night’s sleep in years and seeing him go to bed with a smile on his face felt like such an accomplishment.

 ‘’Every few months it’s great to see how far you’ve come as a parent as well as a foster carer and you notice this by seeing how the children and young people have progressed and the difference a stable home makes to their lives.”

‘’Without a doubt I’d say fostering is the best thing I’ve ever done!’’

How can we help?

Ready to start fostering a child or young person? Or just want a bit more information to help you decide whether fostering is for you? All you need to do is contact us.

Phone us

Call us on 0800 023 4561 (lines open Monday - Thurs: 9am - 7pm, Fri: 9am - 6pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we're here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

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Phone us

Call us on 0800 023 4561 (lines open Monday - Thurs: 9am - 7pm, Fri: 9am - 6pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we,re here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Call me back

Haven't got time to chat now? Leave your details and we'll call you back at a time that suits you:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Why do we need this? So we can email you a brochure.
  • Why do we need this? We appreciate that starting to foster is a big decision that needs careful consideration and you are likely to have questions. We’d like to help answer those questions.
  • Please enter your postcode to see news and events in you area
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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