04 May Colchester couple urge locals to considering fostering
The Coronavirus crisis has encouraged many people to think about the future and focused their thoughts on how they can help those outside of their immediate family.
As we approach Foster Care Fortnight, which runs from 11-24 May, foster carer Iain Cameron from Colchester is urging people to think about whether fostering could be a life-changing opportunity for their own future.
Iain, 45, is a former soldier. He was on a tour of duty in Baghdad with the British Army when his wife, Karen, rang to tell him their first foster child, Josh Thompson, 13, had arrived at their home.
Thirteen years later and the Colchester couple have nurtured at least 12 foster children; raising their own two children at the same time and are now urging others to change a child’s life by fostering.
In 2020, up to 500 children in Essex are expected to come into foster care and as part of Foster Care Fortnight Essex County Council is urging people to come forward and help transform children’s lives.
More foster carers are needed in Essex on a full and part-time basis for either short or long-term placements.
Iain Cameron’s first foster child, Josh, is now 24. He has the world at his feet – a job he loves, a life partner, Lucy, and a big German Shepherd called Milo. But life could have been very different.
Josh is very frank about his background: “My parents had issues with alcohol and my mum also had mental health problems,” he said.
He was one of six brothers but went into foster care with just one of them. He had contact with his parents for many years but, ultimately, they died young.
Today, he is an area manager for a chain of restaurants and oversees more than 230 employees. His contemporaries in identical roles are at least 18 years older than him. He credits Iain and Karen in large part for his success.
“I wouldn’t be where I am now without them. They really feel like my parents – I don’t call them mum and dad but that is what they are to me. They did for me what a normal parent does. They gave me a foundation and stability. They were there for me through the good times and bad”.
Josh says: “It doesn’t matter what kind of background a foster child comes from. They’ve been through the mill – kids need foster parents like the ones I had – they deserve it.”
Iain said: “Having foster children has been a great experience for my children who were six and one years old at the time Josh arrived. They have experienced seeing children from different parts of society.
We only foster teenagers on a long-term basis because we really want to invest time in them. When they come here, they are embraced into the family unit.”
He says it’s a great job: “Am I fulfilled as a foster parent? Absolutely! When your foster child wins at something, they win big and each time you take a bit of pride in that.
For some, very often we are their last chance at a normal life before they become adults, which can be a very scary place if you don’t have any role models. The best qualities you can offer a child are to be a good listener, confident, caring and empathetic.”
Cllr Louise McKinlay, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Essex County Council, said: “Iain and Karen are outstanding examples, as all our foster carers are, of how much of a difference they can make in a young person’s life. Please help and offer a home to a child.
You can be single, married, from a same-sex family or retired and there is an active network of support groups that provide opportunities to meet and learn from other foster carers where many go on to make long-term friendships. Essex County Council also offers high-quality bespoke local training.”
Find out more by visiting www.essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk/fostering