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“It is the most rewarding thing you can do in your lifetime so if you want to do it, go for it”

Retiring foster parent, Anne Meakin, shares her experience of two decades worth of fostering.

October 21 2021 - 5 min read

Initially starting her fostering journey 22 years ago, it wasn’t until Anne came across a fostering advert by the local authority in a Northumberland newspaper did fostering become her way of life.

With a background in the police and ambulance services, once her children had grown up, Anne returned to working life but was looking for that next adventure. Anne said: “Work didn’t feel the same and it felt like something was missing and that’s when I came across the advert. After that, everything seemed to fall into place.

“The scheme was designed to help give young adults an alternative to custody while they were being remanded and once I read more, it started to really appeal to me. The whole process was very quick and suited me and my family at the time. We had many young people coming into our home with different lifestyles and at the end of the scheme it was a success.

“In fact, the team manager from the local authority who was a part of the scheme actually became the first team manager of FCA in the North East. At that point, I decided when he moved, I would move and that’s how I first started with FCA.”

Fostering is a way of life. “When I first joined FCA, the second placement I had was a sibling group of three. One of them stayed for 10 years and another stayed for eight. Even now, we are still in touch with them, and they have definitely become a part of our wider family.”

Reflecting on one particular moment that has stuck out to Anne in her 22 years of fostering, she said: “I actually attended the wedding of the foster child who was with me for eight years and at the wedding, he paid thanks to me. It was honestly such a lovely and rewarding moment to be part of.

“Before he came to me, he was a high achiever at school. Due to his distressing home life, he put all his energy into schoolwork however, when I started looking after him, his academic achievements went down. I know this was because he was finally able to relax and begin putting his energy into his life and just living. I took that as a massive win in my eyes.”

Later in her fostering career, parent and child placements took more of an interest in Anne’s life. “I felt a sense of connection with parent and child placements, perhaps it was because I was a birth parent myself. From one of my first ever placements with the local authorities, a teenage mum came to me, and it really opened my eyes on how I can help in this area. What I’m trying to do is not only give children a second chance but to allow parents the chance to be the best parent they can be.”

“It is hard to give young parents advice as they don’t always listen, but you must remember you are part of their team. We as foster carers are here to help the best we can.”

Being a single carer proved harder to Anne than she had initially expected. Anne said: “Personally for me, sometimes friends outside of fostering didn’t really understand how these children and young people can be especially with their challenging behaviours. Often, I had to decline going round for a cup of tea which felt quite self-isolating at times. At the end of the day, these children need your full undivided attention above anything else.”

To overcome this, Anne said a good support network makes all the difference. “Attending FCA sessions and having the support from other foster carers really helped me overcome this challenge. I knew they were going through the same things as I was, and I didn’t feel alone.”

After COVID-19 greatly impacted her personal life, Anne took the time and came to the realisation that her fostering journey had come to a natural end. Anne said: “It has been an amazing 22 years and I still have friends who are still in the fostering community. There are a lot of highs and lows with fostering and when you have been through all sorts together, those friendships will remain in my life forever.”

Sharing her advice to those looking to become a foster carer, Anne said: “You have to be a relaxed person. You must be a good listener. But most of all, you must be a team player.  Fostering cannot be done in isolation. I learned the hard way so learn through my experience and make sure you take full advantage of the support network FCA provides.

“Fostering is a journey you start off not really knowing much about but in the end, it enriches your life more than you can imagine. It is the most rewarding thing you can do in your lifetime so if you want to do it, go for it.”

Why choose FCA

Thinking about starting your fostering journey?

24/7 local support, excellent ongoing training and competitive allowances are just a few of the reasons why you should choose FCA for your fostering journey.

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