Carol and Hugh’s Story

Archived: Posted December 12, 2016

“Fostering is not an easy ride, it can be challenging at times however the rewards completely outweigh anything negative.  It is the best feeling ever!”

Carol and Hugh Hughes, from Kinmel Bay near Rhyl, have been foster carers with Foster Care Associates (FCA) for five years.  Earlier this year Hugh was diagnosed with lung cancer which came as a complete shock to the couple just three days before they were meant to depart on a family holiday.  Despite going through a really traumatic time the couple have continued to foster, maintaining stable placements for young people before, during and after Hugh’s diagnosis.  Having completed his radiotherapy in October Hugh is now facing a positive recovery. DSC_0539

Talking about how they began their fostering journey Carol said:  “For the longest time Hugh wanted to be a foster carer but I was always very conscious of making my three children my first priority when they were younger.  Once they had all grown up and flown the nest we revisited the idea of being carers. My children were all living their adult lives, I knew that this was now the right time as I now had room in my life and my heart to foster.’’

When asked about how the couple started fostering for FCA, Carol explained that she first contacted the local authority and then changed her mind.  She said:  ‘’I had already requested fostering information from the local authority, however, one day I noticed an FCA advert and it really stood out to me. Having done some further research around FCA and comparing the two choices, I felt FCA came across as being more supportive and the friendlier option.

‘’Before making any sudden decisions Hugh and I spoke to our children first and they were completely on board with us being foster carers. They thought it was a fantastic idea and really encouraged us to do it. When Hugh was diagnosed with cancer this didn’t change a thing for us. We still wanted to be the best foster carers that we possibly could and our children supported us in every way.

‘’Our youngest daughter lives in Liverpool and is always coming home and joining us for fun days out with our foster children, taking them to the fair and the cinema, and our eldest who lives round the corner from us has helped take Hugh to the doctor’s appointments and been a massive support system when I have been with our foster kids. They really helped us juggle everything. Between us we have managed really well under the tough circumstances.’’

Since their fostering journey started five years ago Carol and Hugh have looked after a number of different fostering placements.  Carol said:  ‘’We have been lucky to have some longer term placements ranging from 14 to 18 months, this has enabled us to really get to know the young people in our care. We have looked after several teenagers whom we really enjoyed caring for and still keep in touch with since they left us for independent living arrangements. Just before Hugh went into radio therapy we also took on an emergency respite placement and are currently looking after three children.

 ‘’Like any carers we have experienced some challenges when it comes to foster care. An example of a particularly challenging situation we had to deal with was when a young lady dependent on drugs and alcohol was in our care.  After just two weeks with us she ran away and we were extremely worried about her. Situations like this can be tricky however showing our support and care, and being patient and accepting of this young person brought her back to us. She has since gone on to have her own children and is leading a very happy life.  

‘’The past few months have also been really challenging for our family with Hugh being suddenly diagnosed with cancer and then starting and completing his treatment.  Throughout the last few months FCA have simply been fantastic.’’

Carol goes on to describe the kind of support they have received over the last few months.  She said:  ‘’Not only have FCA been supportive during our fostering journey, providing excellent advice through therapists and social workers, they have also been extremely kind to us and so considerate during Hugh’s cancer.

‘’Right before Hugh began his treatment FCA generously organised for our foster children to be cared for and paid for us to have a two night break to spend some much needed alone time together.

‘’Another example when FCA helped us at a time we might not have been able to cope was when Hugh was no longer able to complete the school run.  He usually did a 200 mile round trip taking our foster daughter to school and picking her up each day. FCA really came to the rescue and provided us with additional transport for as long as we needed for her. We have simply been overwhelmed by their support.’’

Despite the emotional and physical toll Hugh’s illness has taken on the family it’s been Hugh and Carol’s roles as foster carers that has helped to see them through a difficult period.  Sharing one of their uplifting moments Carol said:  ‘’One day I received a text message from the young lady who had previously suffered from drug and alcohol addiction who was moving into independent living. In her text she told us that we changed her life and that she was so thankful to us and grateful of our care. This was a moment we will never forget.

‘‘Hugh and I still keep in touch with her today. We attended her baby’s christening and have caught up with her over lunch.  It’s moments like these where you know it’s all totally worth it.’’

Carol concludes with some words of wisdom for new foster carers.  She said: ‘‘If we had to offer any advice to new carers we would always recommend asking for and accepting all the support that you can. Ring other carers and share your concerns with them and always turn to your mentor for help.

‘’This lifestyle doesn’t suit everyone, so make sure you are 100% sure before you commit to these young people.  If you decide that it is for you, it will be totally worth it. It completely changed our lives!

‘’Fostering is not an easy ride, it can be challenging at times however, the rewards completely outweigh anything negative. It is the best feeling ever seeing a child who may not have had any hope before, grow and end up leaving your care with a bright future ahead of them.’’

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.

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

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.

Share This With A Friend