Bradley has just turned 18 after being in foster care for most of his life. He shares his experience and talks about what it takes to be a foster carer.
Tell us a bit about your time in foster care
I was three when I first went into foster care. I was placed with two lovely ladies and they gave me everything. I loved everything about them and if I could see them again I’d say thank you, because they really rescued me. I had some carers who were very nice, but that was the year I lost my mum so I had a year of blaming myself. I went through a lot of anger. My next carers helped me for five years, and slowly gave me more independence. I’m now in a Supported Lodgings placement. I have a job and I’ve just had my first pay cheque! I’m learning to budget money and cook for myself. I’m learning to come home from a hard day at work thinking I want to go to bed, but I’ve got to cook dinner!
What can foster carers do to make a child feel comfortable?
Don’t make them feel like they’ve moved because their mum or dad has done something wrong. Make them feel at home. Act like they’re family. Make their room empty, with white walls and let them choose a style. I don’t mean Gucci carpets and Louboutin walls, just make it their space. It has to be their safe space and you have to make it feel like it’s theirs, not yours.
What makes a good foster carer?
They need to have an understanding of who I am. When I come out in my make-up I want them to say it’s beautiful, not you’re not going out in that. I want them to accept me for who I am. I don’t want them to sort out my problems, I want them to help me. They should be caring and loving and understanding.
What are your ambitions now?
I finished Level 1 Beauty last year. I’m now moving onto Level 2. Maybe in the future, I will start my own make-up business. I am very passionate about make-up. I’d also like to help kids one day, that’s my dream. I want to help another kid who’s going through stress; help them through a hard time. I’ll show them that it does get better; you just have to see the better. When I saw the better I went, oh yeah, I can do this!
What do you feel proud of?
When my mum passed away I went into a deep depression. I was 10. Now, I think to myself I’m going into Level 2 Beauty! Something I never thought I could do because of my dyslexia; but I’m doing it because I fought for it. I thought I would never be in this position in my whole entire life but I am. I wake up every morning, I make my cup of coffee, I switch on the TV and I get in the shower. I’ve got a whole routine and I thought I’d never have a whole routine. The people who’ve helped me have been brilliant. They’ve all left me tiny little crumbs to build a giant cookie. It’s like building a Lego house. They’ve built the wall, they’ve built the roof; to make me, now, and all I can do is keep on building onto that house, to make it even bigger and better.
What advice would you give someone thinking of becoming a foster carer?
It’s not all sunflowers and rainbows. Really look into it before you do it. Learn more about it. I never like foster carers to think it’s all roses; because you might not get a perfect kid. Go into it like a teacher has just told you to study. Go in thinking I’d like to help a child, because so many children need help. I think more people should foster, but I think they’re afraid. Don’t think it’s going to be brilliant, because some days it’s not. I say thank you so much. That’s why I want to become a foster carer one day. I want the children I look after to come back and see me and for me to think, look at them! They’ve got their own child, they’re married, I’ll go to their weddings, and I’ll go to their Christenings. That’s my dream, to be like a Grandpa. And to leave something behind where people say this man helped me through so much of my life. I’ll always love him for that. That’s my dream.
If you'd like to find out more about fostering with us, please take a look at our events page for the next opportunity to meet the team, find out about what fostering involves, learn who we're looking for and how to apply. You will be able to hear first-hand from some of our experienced foster carers and ask them questions.