Somerset foster carers give an honest account of the ‘Top Ten’ qualities people need to be amazing carers, to celebrate Somerset Fostering Week (23-29 January 2017).

Over 250 households or families foster for Somerset County Council and work tirelessly to make a difference to children’s lives.

For Somerset Fostering Week a selection of foster carers have shared their thoughts on why the ‘Top Ten’ qualities are so important to being the best foster carer possible.

  1. Flexible – Christine Dougherty said: “You will need flexibility to accommodate the needs of the children you will be sharing your home and life with.”
  2. Patient – a foster carer said: “You have to be patient. In time the children will adjust to life in foster care and will start to open up.”
  3. Kind – Sarah Stacey said: “One kind word can change someone’s entire day.”
  4. Consistent – Julie Kimber said: “The children need to feel secure. Regular consistency can involve simple daily routines, set rules and boundaries.”
  5. Trustworthy – Sue Blatcher said: “It can take a very long time for children to trust you, but once they do they start to blossom, to feel safe, to open up and they start to tell you things.”
  6. Honest – Jo, a male foster carer said: “Honesty is essential to building trust. I always say to children ‘you can ask me anything, sometimes I can tell you and sometimes I can’t but I will never lie.’”
  7. Good listener – Zoe Tofield: “Being a good listener involves not just listening to what is said but also hearing what the child is not telling you.”
  8. Understanding – James Lewis said: “You have to try and place yourself in the child’s world and attempt as best you can to learn how they understand their new home.”
  9. Available – a foster carer: “You need to be emotionally and physically available to a child. You need to have time to care for them and attend meetings but you also need to be available when they want to talk or when they need a hug.”
  10. Sense of humour – Trudy Patch said: “A smile and maybe a little giggle will take the heat out of any situation. Looking after a teenager you have to keep up the banter, and engage in their interests, however “uncool” they think you are!”

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “Our foster carers do a fantastic job. Again and again they brighten a child’s day, defuse a child’s tantrum or low mood and encourage them to be the best they can be. I can’t thank them enough for the stability and love they give to children in care in Somerset.

“You can make a difference too. If you recognise these ‘Top Ten’ qualities in yourself then you can be an amazing foster carer.

“Please get in touch with us today I encourage you to give us a call on 0800 587 9900, look at our website www.fosteradoptsomerset.org.uk or come to one of our events in Somerset Fostering Week to find out more.”

During Somerset Fostering Week the fostering team will be out and about talking to people about fostering. Pop along to one of the events to have an informal chat, find out more and ask all those burning questions. Events in Somerset Fostering Week include:

Wednesday 25 January, 7-9pm at Martock Christian Fellowship Church Hall, Church Street, Martock, TA12 6JL. This event will focus on fostering unaccompanied asylum seeking children and a foster carer with experience of this type of fostering will speak to the group. Professional staff will also be on hand to answer questions and have a chat. Please call 0800 587 9900 to book a place at the event.

Thursday 26 January, 11am-5pm at Angel Place Shopping Centre in Bridgwater. Drop by anytime to speak to friendly and professional staff.

Saturday 28 January, 10am-3pm at the Market in Wells. Drop by anytime to speak to friendly and professional staff.

Somerset County Council are looking for people from all walks of life to foster – people can be single, married or in a same sex relationship, own or rent their home, have children of their own or not.

Foster carers are needed for children of all ages and backgrounds, including siblings, children with disabilities and unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

Find out more about fostering in Somerset, read stories from real foster carers and explore all the County Council has to offer – visit www.fosteradoptsomerset.org.uk, phone 0800 587 9900, ‘like’ the Fostering in Somerset Facebook page or follow @fostersomerset on Twitter.