Adrian Fry is one of our trustees at Fair Ways, he recently opened up about his time in care and why recruiting more foster carers is a challenge close to his heart…
My story being fostered: After a recent meeting with Paula Lewis, our fostering manager at Fair Ways, she expressed to me the desperate need for 7000 more foster families to look after young people! This post is the first time I have publicly spoken about my childhood growing up in foster care, please read and share, let’s find the people out there that would consider fostering a young person, and making a difference!
Most of us are used to looking at KPIs and statistics, so let me share this with you…
On 31 March 2020, there were 57,380 children in England living with foster families comprising 72% of the 80,080 children in care looked after away from home. Currently there are about 44,500 foster families in England and an active need for over 7,000 more foster families.
These stats recognise the young people, children, and adults who are standing up and making a difference, and the 7000 more foster families who are needed to support young people who are in crisis and need help.
As someone who was fostered as a child, it’s not something I spoke about in my professional career. When I was growing up in the 80s & 90s there was a stigma to have come from care; people assumed you were a troubled young person. When they heard my story, some people would view me as a ‘cautionary tale’.
My journey: I entered care the night my mother set fire to the family home with all of us inside it. The picture of me above is when I was in care. It is one of a small handful of photos that exist of me and my sister before I was 10 yrs old as in a subsequent incident my father set fire to all photos of us! When I entered care, I was malnourished and I understood little about the basics of self-care; how to wash my hair, butter bread, or have clean, ironed clothes. I remember Christmas in my first foster home: there was a family tradition to pick a real tree and decorate it, and to be a part of that is more special than any gift. It’s also a tradition I carried forward with my own children. My second foster home further built on this and taught me the love of home baking, the smell of fresh bread being baked, chocolate cake, knitting, family holidays and so much more. In adult life, my sense of adventure was inspired by hiking up the side of a Scottish mountain and drinking fresh water from the pool at the top! I love cooking and still bake my own bread, and I am the one who fixes the holes in the kid’s clothes and mends their favourite teddies. My foster family were Christian and I learned about my faith, which is something that means more to me than I think I can express in a simple post.
For many years I felt ashamed of my past, which is why I did not speak of it. I felt it was better for people to see me as who I am now, not what I went through in the past. The truth is, if it was not for the wonderful people who fostered me, I would more than likely not be alive to write this post.
So why am I writing this now? The reason I am part of Fair Ways is because the focus is all about the young people and the wonderful people that take care of them. As a charity, we are making a difference, not a profit. Everything is invested in the future of our young people in care and beyond. Fostering has changed a lot since I was in the system, for example, there is more support and training provided and some of the barriers, such as being a single person, have changed. If you have views on fostering, it’s worth taking a second look as so much has changed or will be different from what you imagine!
Here is my ask of you… you can see how many desperate young souls need a foster family, and the impact you could make on a young life… If you are interested in fostering a young person or know someone who may be interested in fostering, please get in touch with us and share this post with them.
If you have been touched by Adrian’s story and would like to find out more about fostering with Fair Ways, and making a difference to a childs life, then please contact us here.
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