‘Being fostered put me on the straight and narrow’

A mum-of-two who was fostered as a teenager has shared her story to highlight how two ordinary people have made an extraordinary difference to her as foster carers in Somerset.

Allie went to live with Bill and Maggie, foster carers with Somerset County Council, when she was 16, after her mum’s partner became abusive.

Having taken the courageous step of reaching out to Social Services for help, she was offered the choice between living independently or moving in with a foster family, and chose the latter.

Though Allie only stayed with Bill and Maggie for little more than a year, she formed a lasting and life-changing bond with her foster family.

In her piece on the Council’s www.fosteradoptsomerset.org.uk fostering and adoption website, she says: “They put me back on the straight and narrow, and helped me get my life back on track. I’d go out drinking and doing silly things. But they helped me through college. I didn’t complete it all, but they were there to support me when I struggled.

“They helped me find a part-time job while I was in college, so I could keep myself independent. If anything happened, or I needed them, they were there. There were times when I would get told off for something, and my reaction back then would be, ‘Oh, whatever’, but I knew they were doing it for my own good, like any parent, and they did get through to me.”

Today Allie has two children of her own, and is looking forward to getting married next year, with her foster parents playing an important part in her wedding.

“Today, if I need any help, I know they’re just on the end of a phone,” says Allie.

“I have two boys of my own now, and Bill and Maggie are always more than happy to help if I need a hand. They treat them as if they’re their own grandchildren, and we always meet up for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, for birthday meals together.

She adds: “For me, the most important thing with Bill and Maggie was that I knew where I stood with them. They’ve been so loyal to me; if I had any issues I knew I could trust them.”

Speaking out to people in Somerset considering becoming foster carers, Allie says: “You should give it a go. All children are different and not all teenagers are difficult. A lot of the kids I knew were in care due to problems at home, families breaking down. It wasn’t them – they had issues at home they were needing to get away from. But people automatically think, ‘Oh no, a teenager’.

“If you can be that positive person to help them, who sees things differently, you can make all the change in the world.”

Read Allie’s account in full online at www.fosteradoptsomerset.org.uk/news

To find out more about fostering with Somerset County Council, visit www.fosteradoptsomerset.org.uk or phone 0800 5879900.

For further information, please contact the Press Office on 01823 355020 or email pressoffice@somerset.gov.uk

Notes to editors

Names have been changed.

Somerset County Council is looking for people with space in their lives to foster an older child or teenager. There is also a need for foster carers who can look after siblings, offer long-term permanent placements, short breaks for children with disabilities, and parent-and-child foster placements.

To become a foster carer people need to have a spare room in their home, a commitment to help a child, patience and a willingness to learn. People from all walks of life can apply to foster. It doesn’t matter if they are single, married or in a same sex relationship, own or rent their home, have children of their own or not. And there are lots of different types of fostering, which means people can choose how much time and energy they can offer a child and what suits their circumstances best.

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