This week we chat to our carers Rob and Mandy Goddard who have been fostering with us at Brighton and Hove for over 23 years and have fostered more than 65 young people. They were awarded an MBE for their incredible service to fostering in 2015.
As a ‘Barnardos Boy’, Rob was fostered himself in Whitehawk and then stayed with one set of foster parents for his entire time in care. He credits his positive experience in care as the reason that he wanted to give something back and become a foster carer himself.
So has it sunk it that you have an MBE?!
Rob - Absolutely not! We still can’t believe it and are so proud and feel so honoured to have been awarded it. It was the proudest day of our lives.
Why do you think you have continued to foster all these years?
Rob – For lots of different reasons. We love seeing young people being given the chance to flourish and providing them with support as well as consistent boundaries.
Mandy – Every child has been different and has needed different things from us so there’s never been a dull moment and it’s been such a varied experience. We have learnt so much about ourselves in the process and met so many wonderful children who all hold a place in our hearts.
What age groups of children have you fostered?
Mandy – we’ve fostered every age group. From babies to teenagers. My favourite placements are the parent and baby placements where you support a new parent and help them find their feet looking after their babies. It can be extremely challenging but also hugely rewarding when you can see them become more confident as parents. Fostering babies can be emotional as you form a strong bond with them but then as hard as it is saying goodbye, you know you’ve helped them have a positive start to life and they are moving onto a better future.
Rob – I enjoy fostering teenagers the most. I like their energy and their spirit. Also they can be great fun and I like the banter! Teenagers need reassurance, open communication, consistency and to know you’re there to support and guide them.
How has it been to have your own children alongside your foster children?
Mandy - Our two boys were 2 and 6 years old when we started to foster so fostering has always been a large part of their lives. They enjoyed meeting lots of new children and it’s given them a broader view of the world. One of our sons went on to study children’s rights and is now a Contact Superviser and I definitely think fostering has made both of our boys really caring.
How have you been supported by Brighton and Hove City Council over the years?
Rob – We’ve had brilliant support and it has improved more and more over the years. Our social workers have always been available and on hand for advice so you never feel like you’re on your own.
Mandy – I’ve really enjoyed all the training courses and learnt so much over the years. Brighton and Hove also arrange support groups for people doing specific types of fostering such as fostering teenagers, unaccompanied asylum seekers or if you’re a single carer. It’s been great meeting and getting to know other foster carers over the years so you really feel like you’re part of a community.
What would you say to other people considering fostering?
Rob – If you’ve been thinking about it then do it! Pick up the phone and have an initial chat with Brighton and Hove City Council. Take the first step and you’ll never look back! If you’re caring, patient, have a spare room and enjoy being around children and have childcare experience then you can foster. It’s been the best thing we’ve ever done and our proudest achievement.
If you'd like to find out more about fostering and whether you could do it, come to one of our information sessions:
Thursday 15th June – 6.30pm - Hove County Cricket Club – Free parking in the ground
Wed 19th July – 6.30pm - Hove County Cricket Club – Free parking in the ground
You can always call us for an informal chat on 01273 295444 or visit our website www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/fostering