Linda Tellwright

from Stoke

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Linda Tellwright, a grandmother from Stoke, signed up to be a foster carer with Fostering Solutions nine years ago when her husband Kevin was still alive and has never looked back. Linda currently has a 17 year old in her care and says that age shouldn’t be a barrier when it comes to foster care.

Linda said: “Although I’ve looked after some babies and young children in my time as a foster carer, I primarily look after teens as I know they are typically harder to place. I really do like to help try and make a difference to teenagers’ lives. If they’ve been in the care system a long time there can be quite a lot of anger built up and this needs to be dealt with sensitively.

“The young man I’m fostering at the moment came to me after being taken into care at the age of 16 which is quite unusual. Being from outside the area didn’t help him as there was no friends or family network to call on so his behaviour was a particularly challenging problem to manage.

“After coming to me and adjusting to life in a family environment with my own children and grandchildren around him, he has managed to turn his life around which is fantastic. A career in the Army looks likely and we are just working towards finishing a college catering course which means plenty of options are now on the table – something that was not even remotely possible just two years ago. It’s a tremendous achievement.

“I also fostered an Afghan asylum seeker who came to me when he was 13, unable to read or write in his native language or in English. We worked hard over the next few years and he eventually excelled at college and even won a student of the year award. He passed his driving test within six months of his 17th birthday and also got a job working with a local car sales business, which then led to independence and him moving on with his own life. With all my foster children, I invest the same amount of time and importance in building important life skills.

“I got into fostering after becoming disillusioned following a 19 year career as a retail store manager. I wanted more from life, especially as my own youngest daughter had left home to set up home herself. My husband Kevin and I agreed that he would remain the main breadwinner and I left my retail job and became a transporter of young people who were moving into care. Lots of these youngsters were absconders and after one asked me why I couldn’t take her in, I decided that foster caring was what I wanted to do. I then registered with Fostering Solutions and the rest is history! Even after Kevin passed away this is something that we entered into together.

“Training with Fostering Solutions on offer is first rate and I find mixing with carers from other areas very useful as we’re all able to share experiences and help each other. I get a lot from attending networking meetings and offering advice to younger carers – I’m a firm believer that knowledge and experience sharing is critical in helping children in foster care. Fostering Solutions provides a very high quality standard of support.

“As far as offering advice to any potential foster carers goes, I’d say follow your heart. No child should be labelled or put in a box; all they want to do is have a happy childhood and a good foster carer can help deliver this. Age should not be a deterrent to people who wish to foster. I wanted to ensure my own children had fled the nest and settled before I took on a full time carer role and this has worked perfectly for me. The fact that I’m a grandma has no bearing on my ability to provide suitable care –age provides great experience. We take part in lots of family activities together, my own children and grandchildren with foster children all together, having lots of fun. This is how I like it and is exactly as it should be in my opinion. Showing care and love to a child who may not be used to it is challenging, but very rewarding and making them feel comfortable in your own home is hard but extremely natural and fulfilling.”

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