Since 2009, Celia Simpson and husband Danny have been fostering the same child. Arriving at just six years old, Lewis* has been on a transformative journey, and now at the age of 20 he is applying for apprenticeships and working towards his own career.
Over the last 14 years, with the support of their family, the wider Caribbean community, and local fostering agency FCA, Celia and Danny feel that they wouldn’t have been able to continue on their journey.
Celia was determined to give her foster child the best life she could, she said: “Lewis* came from a really difficult background, things were tough. But I wasn’t going to give up on him, no matter what.”
Family life for Lewis* was difficult before he came to live with Celia and Danny, and as Celia has experienced negative policing of black children in her neighbourhood she took it upon herself to make sure that her foster son and birth children knew how to manage the situation.
Celia instilled values of respect and humility in her children and equipped them to deal with the discrimination they may face in society as people of colour.
She said, “It is sadly common for children of colour to be targeted in searches of knife crimes or drug searches but I have always talked to my children about it from a young age.
“I have taught them to treat others with respect and be prepared for what’s to come. I think it is good to teach them early on so that they know how to behave, how to respond, and how to protect themselves.”
Celia believes that it is important for children of colour to be placed within communities that are capable and willing to understand their struggles and challenges.
She said: “It depends on the foster carer and on that child. It depends on how much work you are willing to put in making the child feel safe and understood.”
Celia comes from a multi-cultural family which has always welcomed foster children from all ethnicities and backgrounds. Her own foster son is mixed race and was able to find a community for himself within his extended foster family.
Celia said: “It took him (foster child) a while to realise that some of my relatives were the same as him because his family is half Irish as well, and when he met my nephews, he realised he was just like them.”
Celia believes that more people from Black and ethnic minority communities should open their homes to children who need it.
She said: “I would encourage anyone who is willing to go above and beyond to take up fostering, because it is a 24/7 job and brings a lot of responsibility with it. Fostering is not an easy journey, but certainly a rewarding one.
“I wish I had taken up fostering earlier, I have changed as a person, I have changed as a parent. I actually listen more - that’s why I love fostering.”
Celia and Danny foster with FCA Thames Valley, an Ofsted “Outstanding” fostering agency which has been commended for understanding children’s cultural and ethnic needs, celebrating heritage and respecting culture and diversity throughout the whole organisation.
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