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Meet the foster carers making a real difference to young lives in Swansea

No two children needing a foster home are the same - and neither are those who care for them.

Foster carers

Swansea Council's Foster Swansea service has 135 approved carers who come from a variety of backgrounds.

There are single carers, families with children and same sex couples.

The one thing that unites them is their desire to play their part in helping to change a child or young person's life for the better.

With Foster Care Fortnight running from May 8, Foster Swansea is keen to speak to people who are considering becoming foster carers.

The team will be out and about in The Quadrant Shopping Centre and at various Tesco supermarkets during the campaign.

They have also organised two information evenings at the Civic Centre between 6pm and 8pm on May 15 and 22.

Here we talk to some of the carers about the highs and lows of becoming foster carers:

Tim and Ann O'Hare, who have three grown-up children, have been foster carers for four years.

Tim said: "After approval, we moved straight into working with parent and child placements where a mum, or mum and dad with a new born, come to live with you for a period of assessment, normally for around 12 weeks. You complete daily reports on parents and liaise with midwives, health visitors, family support and other local authority workers.

"Although they are pretty full on, the placements gives you opportunity to work alongside mums and dads and to help them develop their own parenting skills, as in many cases they have not had positive experiences in this area.  I think that is what is at the heart of what gives us a real sense of achievement - working in a team with a number of professionals to help this family succeed and for there to be a safe environment for this child to go home to. Sometimes baby does not go home with parents, but the safety and wellbeing of the child is the end goal.

"In other jobs, where you go to a place of work, you can come home shut the door behind you and switch off. So in this environment, you do forgo that element of freedom to a certain extent.

"One thing that helps is that you are not on your own. You have your own supervising social worker and we have really appreciated the consistent help and support and the ongoing quality training we've received with Foster Swansea.  One of the things that struck me when we first started was that there is a sense that you are part of a team and that's really important.

"It is a big commitment to have three complete strangers turn-up on your doorstep with suitcases and all sorts of baby paraphernalia. There are challenges to it. You can't change the world but you can play a part in a chapter in individual lives, hopefully for the good."

Sue Bastin became a foster carer last year.

She said: "It's been a rollercoaster - it's had some very good highs and some downs. I would say that you have to be committed and you need to be able to see tough situations through.

"Tough times can be difficult to manage behaviour which can be extreme. The highs are when you see the results through a growth in the child's development.

When you see that they acknowledge you are trying to do your best for them and when they respond to you and show that they care for you. That's pretty special.

"A year on and I'm very glad I did it. It's tiring and it's a full time career and I'm still at the start of a long learning curve but I would say with fostering no two days are the same. You will always have variety because you never know what's going to happen next. But if you are the type of person who relishes change and want something to be challenging and fulfilling then I would say it is for you."

Federico Podeschi and Darren Williams.

Federico said: "Ever since getting together, what we always wanted was a family, and after getting married we explored what option was best for us. We both agreed that fostering was not only an opportunity for us to dedicate ourselves to raising children, but also a worthwhile way to do it since there are so many children in need of a loving and caring family.

"We have welcomed every child as our own and got down to their level to make them feel welcome, understood, safe and loved. Sometimes it has been very challenging, because trauma, fear or negative behaviour gets in the way and you feel like you can't get passed the wall that a child has built around them. But you just need to persevere to find a loving child hiding behind it.

"It is just amazing to see their lives turn around and watch them blossom. It fills your heart and makes you forget anything negative has ever happened."

Ian and Claire Hieron, who have three children of their own, started fostering three years ago.

Claire said: "It is extremely challenging but really rewarding and that outweighs the challenges massively.

"It's the best thing I've ever done - when you see the difference in some of these children in a year it makes it worthwhile for me.

"My two little ones are very much part of helping these children settle in to our home. They love having them but hate it when it's time for them to leave.

"We have always said to them if there is ever a time they don't want us to foster then we won't do it. As each placement ends we ask them 'are we going to go again?' and the answer is 'yeah - who is going to come in through the door next?'

"It can be difficult but if you are struggling you've only got to pick up the phone because they have a 24-hour line and they are brilliant. The training is second to none.

"There are little groups just for foster carers where you can meet up and have a coffee and a chat and that helps, especially when you have just started."

To find out more phone the team on 0300 555 0111 or visit

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