Mel and Jack’s story

Archived: Posted October 4, 2016

“Becoming foster carers helped us fill a void”

Mel and Jack Spitali from Bristol have been fostering for five years after finding out they weren’t able to have children of their own. They have been fostering with us for eight months and are currently full-time carers to a twelve-year-old girl. Reflecting on her experiences so far, Mel said:

“When we found out that we couldn’t have children ourselves, we knew a life without children in it wasn’t a life either of us wanted. Fostering has not only helped us to fill a void in our own lives, it has helped us to provide some wonderful, highly vulnerable children with the care and support they need to flourish.

“Before becoming foster carers, we were both self-employed, running a pair of ice-cream vans in Bristol. Five years ago, I gave up my van and started the journey into fostering. Over the past few years we’ve looked after a range of children on short-term and respite placements. Jack later gave up his ice-cream van too to help support a particularly challenging sibling placement.

“We currently have one lovely long-term placement who is approaching her teenage years. We’ve developed a lovely bond with her. When she tells us she doesn’t want to go to a friend’s house that evening because she wants to spend family time with us, your heart just wants to burst. We’re making the most of every minute as who knows what challenges the moody teenage years will bring!

“But it was a slow start for us – after going through the process and being approved it took us a while to be matched with our first placement. This was frustrating as we had been approved for most kinds of placements. We can see now that this was because we hadn’t chosen the right agency for us – it had nothing to do with a lack of children and young people requiring foster placements!”

“As we were unhappy with the level of support we were given by our previous agency, last year we switched to Foster Care Associates (FCA). We’d been aware of FCA for a while and were impressed that they had an in-house therapist and at the level of support they offer their foster carers in terms of training and support groups. They also run a lot of events and activities for foster children.

“Since we’ve been fostering, we’ve always made the most of opportunities to meet other foster parents. Support groups are great – we all share our experiences, ideas and friendly advice. A lot of the other foster carers we’ve met have had children themselves, meaning they’ve got a much better idea of what to expect as children go through different stages in their lives. By speaking to them, we can try to work out what’s ‘normal’ and what’s not, and to try and spot issues before they develop.

“We found it very hard initially to live with the fact that we couldn’t have children of our own. But our experiences as foster carers have made us think that actually, everything happens for a reason. Were we able to have children, we may not have found such a rewarding career and we may not have been able to help the young people that we have.”

Find out more about becoming a foster carer in Bristol like Mel and Jack.

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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