"Foster Care Fortnight is a time to reflect. For me it’s a time to think about the first went in to care when I was 8 years old.
"It was so scary leaving home, but luckily the social workers had managed to find me a family who were in the same town as where I grew up. I also kind of already knew one of the girls in the family who had also been adopted.
"What struck me when I first entered the house was this warm buzz of chaos. Children playing around everywhere, toys scattered over the floor the upbeat noise of a children’s TV show on in the background. And then I met my foster carer. She had a huge smile, big brown friendly eyes, a mass of curly hair and a hug like a big warm duvet. I met all of the other children (they had several fostered/adopted children there) and then we all sat around the table and ate some food.
"They were so lovely and did not ask me lots and lots of questions, they just went about their business talking to each other about their day and what they were going to do tomorrow. And every so often the lady carer would give me the most comforting soft smile.
"From the very beginning that I felt at home there. It was clearly a very happy household with very happy children and a couple who loved each other very much. And because of that, in time, I felt happy and safe. I can only speak for myself but it is very hard to feel safe in foster care. That is the word which always rang in my ears. Safe.
"I just wanted to feel safe and secure, but being in care (even at the age of 8), I knew that this was only going to be a temporary stop. I knew that sooner or later, it would be time to pack the bags and go. But for what I needed at that time, which was love, support, and a ‘constant’ in my life and knowing that there was a hot meal on the table when I came home and always a big hug on stand by, at that time it was enough.
"On the weekends, one of the older children there would pretend to be teacher and give all the younger children fun lessons, in English and other subjects. Those were such pleasurable time, just sitting there with everyone, laughing and joking and feeling part of a big contented family with such a welcoming and compassionate heart.
"I can imagine at times I must have been quite challenging, like most children are at different times, but having a family who were calm and knew themselves and their own foibles well, along with the ability to know how to talk to me and how to regulate the many different emotions which often come with a child who has been in care was an incredibly precious gift to me.
"They just loved, listened, hugged, were patient, compassionate, did not judge and were always there.
"I have such admiration for those that foster and indeed take the steps toward fostering a child. There are so many incredible people out there who would make and do make incredible foster carers, and there are also many children out there who need those very people to be foster carers to them.
"All of this, and the experiences that I have heard from young people who have been in care, is why I am supporting the Fostering Network this Foster Care Fortnight and it’s why I am asking you to put yourself in the frame and consider being a foster carer. If you’re not ready, or in the position to become a foster carer, then I really encourage you to find out how you can help support foster carers who are already caring for some of Britain’s most vulnerable children."