A foster carer who has looked after a number of children from war torn countries said she believes all boys and girls should have the chance of living with a family.
Elaine King’s fostering career with Fostering People spans over 20 years and has looked after more than 100 children and young people in that time.
She said her drive to help others came from her own experiences of living in care as a young girl.
She said: “I had worked for the local authority for five years before I decided to work for Fostering People.
“Whilst in care when I was a teenager I experienced a short term foster family and hated it so I wanted to provide a different experience for young people and make them feel part of a family.”
Elaine has mainly worked with teenagers, often a difficult group to find foster parents for, including a young lady and her baby and three unaccompanied boys from Afghanistan, two of whom are still in her care.
She said: “The nature of these placements means that most of the young people I look after have often experienced trauma in war torn areas and have seen things they shouldn’t have seen, especially at such a young age.
“This brings with it many challenges but it is my aim to make them feel secure and give them the confidence to achieve whatever they want to.
“I had a young Albanian girl and her child staying with me not long ago. She was new to the country and spoke very little English, which was extremely daunting for her at first.
“She was with me for seven weeks in the end and watching her grow and smile in that time and look after her baby made me realise why I love what I do.”
Elaine said her home is a busy one because she can have up to three young people staying with her at one time. But having three grown up daughters of her own and eight grandchildren, she says she is used to having a lot going on.
She has stayed in touch with many of her foster children over the years and two young people she looked after got married last year.
Elaine says: “My experience of care over the past 20 years has taught me that it’s very much a two-way street.
“It isn’t just about what you do for them, but what they do for you as well.
“Every child brings different personalities and challenges, but from when a foster child first walks through your door to when they leave I like to think we do all we can for them in helping them to grow in every way.
“For anyone thinking of becoming a foster carer, I’d say do your homework first and make sure it’s what you want to do. Fostering People have been brilliant over the past 15 years.
“The support package they offer is great and there is always someone at the end of the phone 24/7. Come with an open mind, a sense of humour and be prepared for a challenge.
“Fostering isn’t a job, it’s a way of life and you’ll be amazed because there are some fantastic young people out there.”