FOLLOWING a whole career working with children, retired headteacher Deb Hill wants to continue making a difference to young people’s lives.
She is now a respite foster carer for Tameside Council and – together with her husband Tony who is also a former headteacher - she looks after a 10 year-old boy at weekends.
The couple, from Carrbrook, are supporting a new phase of the Council's Best Job in the World fostering campaign to encourage people who have experience of working with children to consider becoming foster carers to help meet the increasing demand for support for local vulnerable children and families in crisis.
A fostering drop in will be held at the Denton Centre, Acre St, Denton 5-7pm on Monday 26 March for anyone who would like to have an informal chat to find out more. Or you can call call 0161 368 8865 or see www.tameside.gov.uk/fostering
The Council offers lots of flexible opportunities – including respite and emergency care – which can fit around people’s lives and existing work and commitments. Local authority foster carers receive an allowance, training and support.
Deb and Tony, who have an adult son who has left home, first became respite foster carers two years ago while still working full time. They offered to provide extra support to the then eight-year-old boy who was struggling to settle in his main foster placement and their fostering journey blossomed from there.
Deb said: “Working in education, our whole working lives have been about children and as we came to the end of our careers we knew we still wanted to make a difference and help make children and young people’s lives better.
“What’s even more rewarding about fostering is that you see the huge impact your input is having on a child – you see them flourish before your very eyes.
“We love spending time each weekend with a child who benefits from additional support and attention. Even when we were both working full time, his visits were a joy. Now we have both retired, he continues to give us a young person's view of life.
“We enjoy answering all his many questions, planning days out and helping him to develop his own ideas and understanding. We have taken him to the seaside, the zoo, museums and even on his first trip to London – it feels such a privilege to share such experiences with him and it’s important people know that you receive allowances to make these trips possible.
“It has been fantastic to see how he has progressed at school and in his main foster placement. He has gone from a child who had to change schools because of the difficulties he had to achieving perfect school reports.
“It can be daunting to start with - it can be hard to know for definite whether you have all the skills to provide the care needed by a child who has experienced a lot of stress in his life. However, we found that by listening to him, keeping him active and involved in activities and working closely as a team with his main foster carer, we have been able to make a difference.”
Deb highlighted the benefits of fostering for the Council as opposed to an independent agency.
She said: “Tameside Council work hard to match foster carers with children so the placements suits everyone involved. Staff have been excellent at enabling us to take on as much as we felt comfortable with, without pressurising us to take on a greater role than we felt we could commit to.
“We know that some other fostering organisations have greater resources, but we felt strongly that we wanted to work 'with' a fostering service, not 'for' one. This means that our needs have been balanced with those of the child to give the best outcomes for all.”
The fostering team want to hear from people of all ages and backgrounds who may be able to provide a stable and caring home.
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