Lydia Bright grew up in a fostering household and is now one of the stars of The Only Way is Essex. Here she shares why she is proud to be part of a fostering family.
A lot of people know me for my role in The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE) and while I feel it shows a very accurate representation of me (even if I sometimes cringe) there are a few parts of my life it doesn't highlight.
Firstly, the fact that although I appear slim I actually have an obsession with pie, mash and liquor (which is an east end tradition). Secondly, while I appear to cry every other episode throughout most of the series, I don't actually cry that much. Thirdly, that I am part of a crazy, massive, amazing foster family.
My parents became foster carers when I was around two years of age, so it is something I am very used to. When I was younger I didn't really understand what gifted parents I had. To me it was very normal to have six siblings that were always changing - going to sleep in my bunk bed with a five-year-old sister and waking up with a three-year-old brother was nothing out of the ordinary, along with knowing how to feed a baby, change a nappy and wind them by the age of five.
It wasn't until I hit my teenage years that I really appreciated what my parents had given me as a child. This was an amazing and fulfilling childhood meeting new people and children from all different walks of life on a daily basis. Teaching me the importance of sharing, caring for those who are not as fortunate as us, and never to judge or stereotype people, as well as with giving me real life babies to play with whilst all my friends where stuck with dollies and Barbies.
But it also made me appreciate what they have given to hundreds of children's life's. Turning a journey of neglect, despair and unhappiness into a world of love, acceptance and joy. My parents have always welcomed every child into our family as if they were their own. They have always persevered with every low point in a child's journey to pull them through the other side. I'm not saying it's an easy job made from rainbows and sunshine, because it is challenging. Although isn't life about making a difference and feeling good in yourself?
Fostering for me as a foster sister is the most rewarding job I have ever done. Watching a child smile and laugh after years of confusion is such a great feeling.
For anyone to dedicate so much of their life to care for and cherish the children of others is a magical gift. I am fortunate enough today to have three birth siblings, three fostered siblings and many foster siblings from the past. I love them all dearly and through all the ups and downs, tears and tantrums, I can still say I am forever blessed.