With thousands of disadvantaged children and young people needing foster care across the UK, independent agency Nexus Fostering is empowering people in Gloucestershire to start their fostering journey – giving them access to 24/7 support from experienced social workers and ongoing training opportunities to help them along the way.
Melody Newman has been fostering in Gloucestershire for over 10 years, along with her partner Colin, who also works for the ambulance service. The couple have two biological children, aged 25 and 15, and over the years, they've had lots of different foster children stay with them at their family home in Highnam, near Gloucester.
'We have two children with us currently – a boy who has been with us for six months and a girl who joined us in November. We have had children longer term; last summer, we supported a young lady who had been with us for four years move on to independence. We have also supported with respite placements and bridging placements to help children move on to long-term placements with other carers,' she says.
Fostering with Nexus means Newman and her family are matched with their foster children through the agency's careful process.
She explains: 'Nexus knows us really well and what will work for our family, so when they receive referrals about children needing a placement, they will send them on to us if they think they could be a good match for us. Usually, our supervising social worker will speak to the child’s social worker and get more information or ask questions so we can make sure that we can provide a good home for the child and help them to achieve their best outcomes.'
Day-to-day, the Newmans are just like any other busy family, doing the school run, helping the children with their homework, taking them to dental appointments and spending quality time together.
But for when they need extra support, Nexus is there to help.
'I know that if I need it, there will always be someone on the end of the phone who can support and guide me.
'We see our supervising social worker regularly for supervision – we talk about the children and how things are going and plan anything that might need to be put in place for them. Our supervising social worker communicates with the local authority social workers and supports us with making changes and advocating for our children.
'We also have support from a Nexus clinician who helps us to support the children therapeutically and helps us to understand things like trauma and attachment and the reasons for children's behaviour.'
Nexus also provides ongoing training and development opportunities to its foster carers, both in-person and online; a huge selling point for Newman, with the outstanding level of support that Nexus offers for families and their biological children, as well as the foster children in their care, being a key reason she wanted to become a foster carer with the agency.
Talking about her personal fostering experience, she said: 'The most rewarding part of being a foster carer is being able to make a positive difference to their lives and seeing them grow and thrive in our care.'
And the biggest thing her fostering experience has taught her? 'Patience, tolerance, how important communication is but also how powerful just listening is.'
For more information about becoming a foster carer with Nexus, visit nexusfostering.co.uk.