This week we chat to James and Lydia about their experiences as foster carers and how James's employer AMEX have supported him through the fostering assessment process and beyond.
James and Lydia have been fostering since June 2016 with us at Brighton and Hove City Council.
What made you want to be foster carers?
James: Lydia and I both lived in busy households growing up and we both wanted to provide a safe haven for children going through difficult experiences.
Lydia: I experienced lots of change as a child and felt I was able to cope with this because of my loving and supportive family around me. We wanted to provide this stability for another child.
How many children have you fostered and of what age?
Lydia: We’ve fostered 3 children in total; a 13yr old boy who is now placed with us permanently, his sister who was 12 and another 12 year old girl.
How was the assessment process?
James: It was extremely thorough. As it was so in depth, it gave us plenty of time to prepare ourselves and truly understand every aspect of what we had ahead. We also got to know our assessing social worker really well, helping us to build a great rapport which put us more at ease.
How has AMEX supported you through this process?
As AMEX is a fostering friendly organisation, they have been incredibly supportive. My manager needed to provide references as part of our application so was involved right from the start and I have regularly updated him throughout the process and felt encouraged throughout.
What qualities do you need to be a foster carer?
James: You need to be patient, caring, kind, understanding and have a good sense of humour.
Lydia: You also need to really enjoy the company of young people and be able to be calm and open-minded.
What’s the best thing about being a foster carer?
James: When you see the progress of the child who is staying with you. It might be at school or it might be in their general behaviour, just seeing them relax and feel safe is so rewarding. Lydia and I were deeply moved when our foster son turned to us recently and said, ‘I love it here’. It makes everything worthwhile.
Lydia: It’s never the same day twice as a foster carer, I enjoy the challenge. You also learn so much about yourself in the process and what makes you tick. You understand your own resilience and you start understanding behaviours and why people act the way they do.
What has been the most challenging part?
Lydia: Knowing that we can’t fix everything for a child and that there will be lots of aspects that are out of our control. It’s important to understand your own limitations.
Why did you choose to foster with Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC)?
Lydia: As BHCC Social Services is responsible for placing all children in foster care, they always consider their own carers first before going out to agencies. We felt fostering with BHCC would mean we would get a child who was the best possible match for us. BHCC seemed the most ethical route as foster agencies charge councils a premium for placing the children. We also felt other agencies had a more ‘salesy’ approach which didn’t resonate with us.
James: We’ve had great training throughout the process from BHCC and have a brilliant social worker who works really closely with us and is always available for advice. We’ve also really enjoyed meeting and spending time with other carers in our carer support group.
If you could summarise being a foster carer what would you say?
James: 90% amazing, 10% an emotional roller coaster but totally worth every second of it. It’s the most rewarding thing we’ve ever done and something we’re really proud of.
Lydia: You’re trying to equip a young person for the future and help them find their place in the world so it’s a privilege to be part of this.
We're trying to create a 'fostering friendly' Brighton and encouraging businesses to talk to us about how they can support their employees and families to foster.
To find out more about fostering with Brighton and Hove County Council visit:
or call 01273 295444