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Blue light campaign

Are you ready for your next challenge?

People from all walks of life can foster but some types of backgrounds bring additional advantages – this includes people who’ve worked in health or emergency services who through their work life have gained many of the skills and experiences that will help.

If you work or worked as a nurse, in the ambulance or police service or as a fire fighter you’ve probably had your fair share of stress. Whether it’s working long hours or dealing with a range of patients/people and circumstances; could your work and life experiences lead to you undertaking a foster care role?

It’s experiences like:

  • working as part of a team to achieve the best possible outcomes
  • focussing on the wellbeing of children and young people
  • the familiarity of understanding the roles and responsibilities of other professionals
  • understanding the potential impact of neglect and abuse on children
  • being aware of processes, procedures…

…that you need for a foster carer role.

With more children coming into care, with varied and often challenging needs, we need more foster carers to come forward. There has never been a more crucial time for more foster carers.

Foster carers play an extremely valuable role in our communities, providing care and stability for often very vulnerable children. They come in all different shapes and sizes, can be single, married, own your own home or rent. Being a foster carer means looking after a child (or children) in your own home, on a short or long term basis. Some children need a safe place to stay for a few nights, while others might stay in long-term foster care until they’ve grown up. You’re paid fees and allowances. You need a spare room.

Fostering with Angus Council means that everything you and child need is local. The children will be from Angus, so any local meetings will be in Angus. You become part of a local team around the child – your social worker and the children’s social worker are working for the same organisation with the same policies.

Could you make a difference to a child in need? Need more information? Take a look at our case studies from people who are currently or previously worked in emergency service roles:

  • Richi, ambulance technician
  • Aileen, ex nurse
  • Lynne, ex paediatric nurse

Or have a look through our website for more general information about fostering or give us a call and have a chat with one of our team or with some of our foster carers?

Fostering experiences

Blue light role: Richi – Ambulance Technician
Type of foster carers: short term

About us

Richi works full time as an Ambulance Technician (a paramedic) with the Scottish Ambulance Service and works 12-hour shifts.

I left my job in BT after 21 years to become a foster carer and as a couple we have fostered for 11 years, initially with Dundee and now with Angus Council.

Richi and I are great pals and laughter, and love is at the heart of our home and our relationship with one another and with our kids.

Our family

We have a daughter Niamh who is 23. She is studying for her Masters at the moment having just completed her degree, gaining a First (very proud mum and dad). She is also part of the Children’s Panel and volunteers as a coach with Oxford University’s University programme, working with children from underprivileged backgrounds encouraging them into further education especially, at the top universities in the country.

Niamh is a funny, kind, loving and caring person and has formed amazing relationship with all the children and young people in our home, and still does respite for one of them. She’s currently applying to be a short break foster carer herself. We are very lucky.

Becoming foster carers

We have been asked that question numerous times, however, we cannot say specifically why. We knew no one who fostered, had no experience of fostering but it is something I had wanted to do for years and finally had the opportunity to change my career path. I knew if I didn’t do it then, the chance would pass me by.

As I am the main carer, Rich doesn’t have to juggle shifts etc however it can be difficult for training or meeting that Rich wants to attend.

We have fostered six children and provided short break carer for four children.

Foster children

We have two placements just now, one 18 and one 11. Boy and girl so totally different needs and expectations.

Our 18-year-old likes shopping, eating out and reading so we focus on these things with her. She is looking to move into her own flat. We will support her and be there for her in any way we can. We will miss her. She goes to college which is fantastic achievement!

Our 11-year-old enjoys multiple clubs, his Nintendo Switch and we have season tickets for Dundee United which he loves. He is a more social butterfly enjoying going out, walks, park, playing games and family occasions. He goes to school and his learning is coming on great, and developing a love for maths and numbers.

Support from team at Angus Council

One of our support workers was instrumental in supporting us when one of our children was at their lowest ebb. We have had access to some amazing training, found consultative and support groups very helpful and at times great fun.

What would you say to something thinking about fostering?

Heather: It’s not a job you can really sum up in a few words. It’s challenging, rewarding, educational, great fun, keeps you busy and at times breaks your heart when they move on, but it’s not about you it’s about them. If you are upset and cry when they leave, then you know you’ve invested a bit of yourself in them and that’s your job – to love them unconditionally and make them feel safe.

Richi: I certainly feel my role as an Ambulance Technician (has given me tools you do need to foster especially around confidentiality, keeping calm in difficult situations, a medical background that goes farther than the First Aid course.

Also, I meet so many different people from different backgrounds in my job and you need to have really good communication skills in at times stressful and pressurized situations. I have learned so much from the kids too, what they need in different situations and what might work with one child might not with another, just like one approach with a patient will work but you can read that particular approach wouldn't work with all situations.

As a couple you can bring so much to fostering and more importantly children, and you will get so much out of it too.

Blue light role: previously a nurse
Type of foster carer: short term foster carer

About me

My name is Aileen, and I would like to tell you how I changed my career from a Mental Health Nurse working for NHS Tayside to my current career role as a foster carer. It is never an easy decision to take that step away from your established routines, personal financial stability and moving out of your own comfort zone. Choosing fostering has allowed me the opportunity to work in a field where I could directly change not only my own and family, but a child's or a young person's life for the better.

It is over 14 years since and in my 40’s that I first considered foster caring. I was seeing daily what the impact of a severe and enduring mental, physical and emotional illness could have on a whole family unit. Quite a lot of people think that children have been brought into care because of their behaviour and that their parents and their family cannot cope. Not true…… most children and young people who do come into care because of illness, family breakdown or for reasons of their own safety, just want to go back home. This is their normal…… their life and they can be very protective of this for themselves and their family.

Experiences I could bring as a nurse to foster care

I had in the course of my nursing role when caring for others witnessed and identified the need for child protection and social services to be involved. I had a legal, public and moral duty to protect the child and ensure their safety. So many times, I would wonder and think what had happened to the child or young person, where they were now and did it work out okay for them and their family. In 2009, my son had moved into his own home. We had room and time to give to a child or young person who needed a safe, secure and nurturing environment during their difficult time. I spoke to a social worker who signposted me onto the Angus Fostering and Permanence Service and there started my journey into becoming a foster carer

Becoming foster carers

From our first enquiry my husband and I were allocated a link worker who made an at home visit to answer questions and to support my application to foster. Could I still work and foster? I had so many questions, not just for me but for those who cared for me. Would it be too much? How would it affect my work/life balance? We were introduced to differing levels of fostering and I opted to become a short term foster carers, which would afford me the opportunity to carry on with my full time nursing role and schedule the requests and arrival of a child or young person around work rota, shifts and lifestyle. I spoke with my work who were very supportive in highlighting the responsibility of the trust and as employers to provide and ensure that the Adoption and Fostering Policy was available, workable and family friendly.

I was approved along with my husband in 2010 and with the support of my family, friends and work colleagues I became very good at balancing my full time role as a nurse, wife and mother and offering short term foster care to young people aged 12 to 17 year old when available to do so.

Foster children

Over the last 11 years my husband and I have fostered numerous young people who have arrived on a planned or emergency placement, some have returned home, back into their families, or went into permanent care or have left care onto independent living/supported accommodation. I currently have full time care of an 11-year-old, I reduced my working six years ago and re set my priorities for the future and retirement. Fostering has afforded me the opportunity to change the way I live my life. I still have a caring role and continue to provide financially for my own family.

Support you get

My life as a foster carer has been challenging and demanding but above all rewarding. I have the support of very talented and experienced foster carers, care workers and most importantly my family. I have found that my professional skills of promoting independence and recovery, being person and situation focussed, getting on with it, dealing with the unexpected physical, mental and emotional workload have proven invaluable in my fostering role and care of children and young people.

What would you say to someone thinking about fostering?

I have met lots of people who have worked within the blue light sector who would also make great foster carers for the reason of their skill set and dedication to their job and others that they serve. On a humorous note, anyone that has ever worked in NHS, Blue Light or First Responder sectors will appreciate the must have characteristic of having a ‘thick skin’ which helps along with calmness, empathy, patience, tolerance, compassion, resilience, fun/good humour and the ability to listen and talk.

If you have thought about fostering and wondering if it could work for you or a member of your family. Make that initial call, come along to an information session, ask the questions, find out how fostering would best suit by talking with the fostering and permanence team. Speak to another foster carer and check out foster carer stories online. I do not recollect anyone who I have met that have said that they were sorry they asked about fostering. You never know it could be for you!!

Blue light role: paediatric nurse
Type of foster carer: interim

About me

I’ve been fostering (with my husband) for 11 years. Up until 2019 I was still working as a paediatric nurse while fostering.  I worked Monday to Friday, so was fairly easy to fit in my work as a nurse with fostering.

Foster children

We are interim carers, so we provide temporary care for children and young people. Many of the children and young people we’ve cared for have stayed with us long term, some for three or four years. We find the longer placements easier to manage especially when I was working, you get into a routine, know what you’re doing, what their contact is like and how you’re going to manage it all.

Becoming foster carers

My father was adopted and didn’t know his birth family, so I’ve always had an awareness of fostering and adoption. While I was growing up, my mum was the kind of person who was also helping people out, some would stay with us, so I was used to having other people around.

When our children got older, we both had a chat about it and decided it was something we wanted to do.

Did being a nurse help?

Yes, definitely the experience I gained from being a nurse gave me an understanding of how the system works. I’ve always worked with children. I was a nursery nurse before I started my nursing training, and these experiences give you a lot of insight into being a foster carer.

Nursing highlights the potential experiences the children might have faced. You have the knowledge of working with other professionals and you’re adept in dealing with multi agency teams. It gives you a heads up of what to expect.

Why Angus Council?

We wanted to look after and help local children, so approached Angus Council. The support is really good, our link worker is always on hand to give advice and we have lots of training available to us.

There is a great support network of other foster cares as well. They especially helped us during Covid. It’s good to be able to talk to other people experiencing same thing as you. Speaking to them makes a big difference.

What would you say to someone thinking about fostering?

If it’s something you’ve been thinking about then you should go ahead and find out more about what it means. Get all the information to help you make your decision.

It’s not always easy, especially when it’s time for the children to leave. But it’s not about me, it’s about them. If you could put your own emotions to the side and think about what’s best for the children, then go for it. It’s hard work it’s 24/7 but there’s lots of positive too.