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"It’s very rewarding to see you’re making a difference"

Margaret and Graham started fostering with Blackpool Council in 2021 and haven’t looked back…

As it's Foster Care Fortnight, we wanted to share Margaret and Graham's fostering story.

The couple had thought about fostering for a long time before deciding to apply.

They both have part-time jobs and have been married for around 38 years. With three grown-up children and nine grandchildren, they are used to have a busy family home!

We caught up with Margaret to find out more about their fostering journey.

What made you decide to foster?

Graham has talked about it for years but with us both working, I said we couldn’t do it. I didn’t realise you got a wage for doing it otherwise I would have packed up my job years ago.

We’ve got lovely kids and lovely grandchildren and they all come from loving backgrounds. We have got a big family – there’s 17 of us when we are altogether – and we all support each other. We just wanted to give others a chance in life like we have done with our own children.

How long have you fostered for?

We were approved as foster carers in May last year and then Jacob* came to us almost straightaway.

We are approved to look after 2-18-year-olds. Jacob is 17 now and he will be 18 next year and will move on to independence. I may finish work at the end of this year and then hopefully I will be able to foster a young mum and baby next year.

Do you enjoy it?

I do. It’s nice to make a difference! I had said that I didn’t want to look after a teenager as I thought I’ve been there and done that bringing up my three, but it’s really worked out.

It’s great to see the change in him after only a few months. He has settled very well and is very quiet and polite. It’s nice to see the difference that you can make to their lives.

Would you recommend fostering?

Yes, definitely. It is very rewarding to see you’re making a difference whether that’s to a child or a young person.

Jacob is even walking taller now! The email that I received from the fostering team saying that they can’t believe the difference in him was lovely.

It’s so rewarding to see the way he responds to my family. They come round all the time and he just fits right in. My grandson worships him. You have to treat any fostered child or teenager like you would your own children.

What would you tell someone thinking of fostering?

The process is quite difficult at the start and it seems long and drawn out so just stick with it. Also, there’s much more than money to looking after a child but you are well paid as a foster carer so it is affordable.

If you had to give one piece of advice to new foster carers, what would it be?

It’s quite a worrying time when you first start, learning all the rules so make sure you start as you mean to go on and know the ground rules such as on the weekend, when you’re not sure who to call.

Make sure that you don’t panic at the beginning as you do settle into it. It’s a big responsibility but that’s what you do all this training for.

Was it an important decision to foster with a council rather than an agency?

I chose to foster with Blackpool Council rather than an agency as the idea of fostering a mum and baby was a big draw. The council seem to have been doing it for longer and seem more experienced.

*name changed