Simon and Rosemary’s story

Archived: Posted April 25, 2016

Simon and Rosemary Heyes had thought about becoming foster carers for some time and, after spotting a Foster Care Associates (FCA) recruitment appeal in the newspaper, they started fostering in November 2012.

The couple from North Somercotes in Lincolnshire have both worked in the prison service, while Simon also spent more than 20 years in the army, and they believe the skills they learned in frontline public service have helped enormously in their journey into fostering. Simon explains:

“On the face of it, being a foster carer and a Warrant Officer in the army may not appear to have much in common, but there is actually a lot of crossover in the skills needed to be effective in both roles. People often have a stereotypical image of a sergeant major barking orders, but the reality is very different. I joined the army in the 1970s and even back then it was very advanced in its approach to people management. As I progressed through the ranks I was trained to get the best out of people by focussing on their good points and building confidence.

“In both the army and the prison service you have to be able to talk to people in all sorts of different and often difficult situations. You need to be able to find out what they need and work out a solution – that requires patience and discipline and is certainly something I have drawn on as a carer.”

FosteringRosemary, who also spent time as a kindergarten teacher earlier in her career, adds:

“I gained a lot of experience working as a teacher in a nursery school in Kuwait. Most of the children were Kuwaiti and learning to speak English from scratch. This meant that we had to use other ways to communicate and establish a working rapport. In addition some of the children were either mentally or physically handicapped or both, so it was a challenging experience and I gained a lot of satisfaction from seeing the progress they made.

“In complete contrast my work as a prison officer brought me into contact with adult prisoners who mainly came from poor and deprived backgrounds and who had very little formal education. They often came from broken homes and had violent and extensive criminal records. However, once they realised that confrontation with the officers achieved nothing and that being polite and complying with the rules actually got them what they wanted, they became friendly and cooperative. I have taken all these experiences and used them in some form or another in my foster caring. The trick is not to rise to often deliberate provocation but to remain calm and speak clearly and calmly to achieve the aim. Stay calm, be respectful but above all stay consistent and the results are amazing!”

Rosemary and Simon have undertaken training with FCA to enable them to take on every type of placement, including young people with criminal convictions and parent and child placements. Simon explains why they decided to approach fostering in this way:

“FCA prepared us very well about the realities of fostering from the very start. We’ve had to deal with difficult behaviour in our previous careers and that didn’t worry either of us. We knew fostering would be challenging, but we have focussed on looking beyond the initial hurdles and trying to make a difference for the long term.

“Between the two of us we have five children who are all grown up and when we decided to get out of the rat race and move to Lincolnshire, we found we had the space and time to give to a young person who needed it. We spent two and half years doing up our old farm house and were struck by how beneficial the peace and quiet might be for a young person who has faced a difficult start in life.

“When we told our family and friends that we were going to be foster carers they were surprised. Even our own kids told us they didn’t think we were the type. I think there is a stereotypical image of what a carer should be like, but that just isn’t the case. For Rosemary and myself we knew we wanted to help and we had reached a point when we had the time and space to do so.

“We’re really well supported though. We’ve had really good training from FCA and we get together with other carers regularly and they’re a great group.”

Since they began fostering, Simon and Rosemary have focussed on trying to prepare the children in their care for independent life. Simon explains:

“With our own children we wanted to help them make their own life and that’s what we’re trying to do with the young people we foster, particularly those who are close to leaving care. We want to prepare them to be as well equipped for adult life as possible, so they take responsibility and feel confident about the practical bits of living independently. We’ll always keep in touch, but there’s a real sense of achievement in seeing a young person able to stand on their own two feet, especially when they’ve had a difficult start. We just feel pleased to be able to give them an opportunity.”

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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