Alan & Alison

from Mersyside

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I wish I'd done it even earlier in life

Alan (60) and Alison (52) are from Merseyside and have been foster carers with Fostering Solutions since 2002. They have cared for a number of children on a respite basis, short and long term, as well as parent and child placements. Alison and Alan originally thought age might be a barrier for them, but realised that life experience was valued – they’ve now looked after 22 children and have enjoyed every minute of it.

Alan said: “We always wanted to foster, but to be honest I thought we might have been too old when we decided to go for it. Luckily we didn’t let this put us off and it wasn’t an issue – we were approved with flying colours. It was life experience and ability to offer a child a safe, nurturing home that counted, so age was certainly never a barrier in our case.

“I was a taxi driver previously and the firm I worked for had contracts to drive a lot of children who were in care to different places such as care homes or take them on residential trips. As a result of doing these journeys, I got quite attached to many of them and that got me thinking about foster care. Alison was a refugee centre worker, used to caring for children. We’d also both worked in psychiatric wards so had been used to handling challenging behaviours. Plus, having brought up five kids of our own convinced us that we had the right credentials to be foster carers!

“We have looked after a sibling group of four from a fairly young age. Two have now left us and live independently and we still have the 15 and 17 year old girls with us. Their older sister who moved out some time ago asked Alison to be her birthing partner, which shows just how close the bond can be. The older boy went to university and is now on his final year of an IT course at Liverpool.

“We also foster an 11 year old boy who has complex needs. He has been with us for five years now and, considering he couldn’t even communicate when he first came to us and would never sleep, he’s now very settled with no aggression issues and trying his best at school. The turnaround in him has been fantastic and I feel we’ve really helped by putting him in a stable family home and giving him a chance.

“The training we’ve had from Fostering Solutions has been excellent. There has been times when we’ve needed support from Fostering Solutions and respite, especially with our 11 year old, and this has always helped us. We’ve also taken advantage of the team psychologist to help us cope and this has been very useful – the level of support is fantastic.

“Being a foster carer is very rewarding; seeing all the children integrate into your family and then achieving positive outcomes for them is such a good feeling. Fostering is something you need to commit to – it’s hard work 24/7 and there’s no getting away from that. However, we’ve always loved kids and personally, I wish I’d done it even earlier in life.”

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