The great, late, Nelson Mandela once said that ‘the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.’ This is, of course true, but we like to think that young people are also the leaders of today which is why we have been so pleased to have had our young champions in Scotland come on board to influence decision-making and undertake awareness-raising activities.
Sue McKellar, project worker on our Young Champions programme, catches up with some of the participants for some feedback of their involvement, which will be documented in this three-part blog series.
Many people would say going into foster care was a bad thing and they have had a bad experience, but for me it was a good experience.
At first, going into foster care was hard for me and my two sisters. We were placed with a foster family miles away from where we lived before with mum and dad. I still remember that day, it was a Wednesday and it was raining really heavily. We got soaked going into the car.
Besides all the heartbreak and the hard times, things actually started to make sense and fall into place. I have gained so much confidence and experience from such a negative start in my teenage years. I’ve made so many friends since foster care and still have a good relationship with them although I don’t live near any of them.
I made new friends by going to dances up in the local hall and through my carers, as she knew one of the kid’s parents so we had invited her over for a movie night and we got to know each other through that. It was nice to make new friends.
Since being in foster care for the past two years, I have volunteered for The Fostering Network as a young champion with other foster children and children of the parents who are carers.
Being a part of the group is great because before I joined I didn’t know many kids that were in foster care so to have a group of people who can understand and to just have them there just to talk to is wonderful.
Being a part of The Fostering Network gives not only myself but the other champions great experiences. We’ve done a lot of work around foster care and how it’s not such a bad thing and there are good moments to it.
I am extremely proud to be a part of the young champions, if I wasn’t in foster care I wouldn’t have met some amazing people and have great memories to cherish. It has given me great experiences and great memories.
Where I am right now has all came from confidence and great support from everyone around me. I’m 18 years old and have stayed put with my foster family and tend to do so for the near future.
I am now a Modern Apprentice at the Scottish Children’s Reporter. I am enjoying working where I am, I’m learning new things every day.
As the daughter of a foster carer I can say that the experiences we have gained as a family are truly invaluable. It feels amazing to have the opportunity to help both children and parents when they are struggling or just need some assistance.
It is still surprising how easy it is to welcome children into the family and think of them as your siblings. It is so rewarding to be able to provide a safe and loving home for children and to be able to watch them grow in trust and confidence each day.
"Knowing that we played even a small part in their future makes it well worth it."
Obviously with each age group of children comes new and different experiences but all of these experiences are equally fantastic to be a part of.
Sometimes it can be hard to say goodbye to the children as they move on to either adoption, permanent foster care or back to their families, but knowing that we played even a small part in their future makes it well worth it.
It is great to see the children reaching milestones such as learning to swim or ride a bike as you get to see them develop certain skills and know you were helping them along the way.
Working with The Fostering Network Young Champions project has been a great experience. It has given me the opportunity to meet some fantastic people, improve on skills such as public speaking and allows me to have my voice and the voices of other young people in my area to be heard.
The young champions are a mix of both children who have been in care and the sons and daughters of foster carers. I believe this mix works well as you get to hear about problems from more than one group of people.
Even though we are from different backgrounds, we all equally want to help resolve the issues/struggles children can face in the care system and work together to do so.
I am extremely grateful to be given this opportunity and I believe that we have made a difference, by making a start at breaking down the stigma surrounding foster care and spreading awareness of the issues.
Find out more about young champions, part of the Fostering Community Champions project, on this page.