Tony Acott has been fostering with his wife for 10 years in Newport, South Wales. They foster a young boy and provide emergency respite support.
Ten years ago at the ripe age of 62, after my children had left home, I decided there was something missing. I had an empty house with nothing to fill it. My partner Sue and I have been around fostering all our lives. Sue’s sister and daughter both foster, so it was a natural step for us to take on the challenge of becoming foster carers.
I sadly lost my first wife to cancer in the 70’s. I was left with four young children to look after; being a single parent was never a situation I thought I would find myself in. But, there I was, trying to keep working full-time, keeping up with the chores and making sure the children were in school on time every day became the focus of my life. For the next 18 years all of my attention was with them.
This was my first experience with social services. I never forget the first time they contacted me; I was invited in to meet with the nursery that my youngest daughter attended, along with a social worker from Newport Council. I was so nervous; I remember putting my tie on, heading down to the nursery ready to enter in to battle with social services… They couldn’t have been nicer.
They had been monitoring the children’s progress since their mum passed away and were happy with their progress. The social worker and the teacher at the nursery said to me ‘How can we help you’ and from that point on all of my perceptions of social workers changed. The teachers had time to talk to me, social services wanted to help and the whole community came together to help me when I needed it.
Looking back this is what made me want to foster. To help children who needed and help parents who struggle.
I remember day one of fostering. Waiting at our door with anticipation for the first child to arrive, nervous that our empty house was about to be filled again. I remember opening the front door and looking down at her face, frightened, wondering what was happing, and I knew what I had to do straight away. All of the experience of raising my own children came flooding back to me and I welcomed her in to our house as if it was her own. It was magic. I knew from then on, I would be fostering for a long time to come.
Sue and I now live in Newport. We’ve been fostering for 10 years in total and had 15 young people pass through our home.
Starting Confidence in Care
Back in the summer of 2015 our social worker mentioned a new training course that was coming up. I’ve recently had some health problems and missed a few training sessions and when I heard the course was 13 weeks long I thought it was probably going to be a refresher of the training I’d missed. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Confidence in Care brought together foster carers from all over my local authorities, some of them I’d never met before. Every week we’d come together as a group, learn new skills and talk about what happened since the last time we met- solutions that worked, problems we had, things we needed advice on, and we’d all talk through the solutions. It was invaluable having the experience of other carers and some of the best facilitators I’ve ever had at training. I learnt more during those 13 weeks than I have in 10 years of attending other courses.
I thought I’d heard it all before, attended every course there was and learnt all there was to know about being a foster carer. This course gave me the confidence to ask for advice, learn new things and try-out different ideas.
I’ve been fostering for 10 years and still have the passion and drive as I did the first day I started, long may it continue and I hope to foster for many years to come!