People fostering children for Wiltshire Council have shared their experiences as part of a push to encourage more potential carers to come forward in 2023.

Vanessa and Colin have fostered since 2014 and have three of their own birth children. They initially started doing it for short term emergencies and respite care.

The two children they foster came to them five years ago and when they needed long-term foster care the couple put themselves forward.

Vanessa said: “They are really settled and happy. It works really well although there can be chaos sometimes.”

For people thinking about fostering she acknowledges it is a big decision. “It's a really difficult decision and big commitment.

“I went to an information evening and that’s how I got into it. You have to think it through carefully -  is it going to work with your family and if you have birth children?

“For us it’s worked. There have been challenges along the way but we really enjoy what we do. Anyone can foster, you can be single, married it doesn’t matter anyone can do it.

“We’ve only ever worked with the council and our experience has been nothing but positive. We’ve got amazing social workers on both sides and found them really helpful. The training is immense and we are supported all the way.

“We love what we do and the fact we’re helping other people and giving them a life they wouldn’t necessarily have had and the opportunity they wouldn’t always have."

Christine and Martin have fostered for 21 years, caring for 54 children of all ages. They often provide friendly support to other fosterers.

They keep in touch with many of those they have cared for, getting updates and photos and seeing a number of them a few times a year.

Christine said: “It’s hard work but it’s also incredibly rewarding. We had two children come to us many years ago and I remember the teacher rang us to say how excited the boys were for having breakfast and bedtime stories.  

“You really shouldn’t underestimate how such simple things can have a really positive impact on a child.  

“There are always new challenges but my support social worker is very good and if you have any queries or concerns support is always available.  You also get a lot of support from other foster carers as well.  

“The children can come to you quite damaged and traumatised.  It is often the case that they have had no routines prior to coming in to our care, often not even having regular meals.  

“They soon benefit from predictable routines. We show them normal family life, that we’re there for them, and that they will get fed! Showing them warmth, listening and playing with them makes a real difference.

“As a foster carer it’s really important that you advocate for the child in your care and communicate well with birth families, as well as with a host of different professionals involved in every aspect of their lives.

“I encourage people to consider the rewards and demands of becoming a foster carer and making a real difference to young people in care.”

Fostering with your local council means all money is spent on frontline services and the child is more likely to be able to stay close to their school, friends and family networks.

The council has recently increased its fostering rates which range from £366 to £680 a week, depending on people’s skills and experience.

For more information, visit email, call 0800 169 6321 or text the word Foster to 60002.