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Nicola's fostering story

Nicola, 43 and her husband, Richard, who are based in Redcar, have been fostering for three years and in that time, they have fostered three children who are siblings.

November 26 2021 - 4 min read

“These young people will remember you for forevermore, so even if you make just a small impact on their lives now, it will hopefully have a really positive outcome for them in the future".

Nicola, 43 and her husband, Richard, who are based in Redcar, have been fostering for three years and in that time, they have fostered three children who are siblings.

Nicola has always loved working with children, right from when she left school, as she explains; “I started off as a nursery nurse as soon as I left secondary school and then studied at college to achieve my National Nursery Examination Board qualification. After a few years, I worked my way up to after school club manager and holiday coordinator - it really was my passion.”

She added: “Myself and my husband are very family orientated people and we had discussed fostering before as we both are caring people and wanted to make a difference to children’s lives. However, it all really fell into place one day when we heard an advert on the radio in the car which featured a fostering agency calling out for new foster carers to come forward.

“We just looked at each other and said, ‘why not?!’ now is the right time for us in our lives to do this. We just wanted to be able to show children what our family life is like and that’s where it all began.”

Nicola explains that her family and friends are a huge part of their journey; “We have a really great support network; my parents help us out a lot and they are risk assessed which means they can look after the foster children if needs be. My friends are fantastic too and will always be there for me when I need them.”

Welcoming foster children into their family home has made a huge difference to family life, as Nicola explains; “We get to spend so much more time together now doing fun activities. Our son was 16 when we began fostering so he was very independent, but we do now make the effort to spend more time all together as a family.

“We have family board game nights, movie nights, we go out for big walks and we love going on trips out too! Fostering has made a huge positive impact on our family life.”

However, fostering during the coronavirus pandemic has brought along its challenges, as Nicola explains; “Initially it was quite difficult, especially with the home-schooling side of things, but we have just pushed on through it and tried to make the homeschooling lessons a little bit more fun for the children.

“Whilst homeschooling, we really enjoyed teaching the children ‘life lessons’ as well as their traditional subjects, including things they wouldn’t necessarily learn in school, such as how to run a house and what bills mean and why we pay them!

“We also taught them about money skills and about saving, which really helped them to learn a bit more about independence, so that when they do eventually leave us, they will be more prepared.”

Fostering can sometimes be a difficult process, as Nicola has found; “For us, I think the hardest thing was the initial behaviour patterns the children had. Their manners weren’t brilliant, and we had to work to understand why that was.

“We took some time to get to know the children and their little quirks and they took the time to get to know us and our quirks. In the they end they were able to understand the house rules and we worked through those negative behaviours.”

When Nicola’s eldest foster child came into her care, he was struggling with his weight, as Nicola explains; “Due to him initially being overweight, he was unfortunately struggling a lot with his asthma, which was difficult to see. However, through us encouraging healthy eating and with increased exercise as a family, he has actually lost quite a lot of weight and his asthma is non-existent, to the point where he is hopefully coming off all of his medication soon.

“That for us is a massive success because he came to us in such a poor state of health and we, as a family, helped him to overcome that. He is now super fit and within the healthy weight range which is just so amazing to see!”

This isn’t the only difference Nicola and her husband have made to a child’s life, as Nicola explains; “It’s also just the little differences that mean the most. When the children arrived, they were nine and eleven and they couldn’t tie their shoelaces. They had poor manners and they were behind in their schooling, and now looking back, so much has changed and they have improved so much into happy, well rounded young people, which is just so rewarding to be a part of.”

Nicola believes that Fostering People have helped them significantly throughout their journey: “Once we got to panel and were approved as foster carers back in July 2018, it was just an amazing, rewarding feeling. Although at first the initial process is fairly intrusive, it really is all for the greater good! With Fostering People’s support, it took around five to six months from start to finish for us, which is great.”

For those considering fostering, Nicola has this piece of advice; “Just go for it! Think about the difference that you are going to make to these children’s lives. These young people will remember you for forevermore, so even if you make just a small impact on their lives now, it will hopefully have a really positive outcome for them in the future!”

If you have a spare room and would like to know more about short term fostering or how to become a foster parent, please give us a call on 0800 077 8159 today.