Deciding to grow your family is a big decision and with an increase in the need for foster carers, SoGlos talked to a Cheltenham couple who decided to do that – beginning fostering during the pandemic, no less.
During Foster Care Fortnight 2021, which runs Monday 10 May 2021 to Sunday 23 May 2021, they took the time to explain exactly what their experience has been like and what other Gloucestershire couples considering becoming a fosterer can expect.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, please.
We’re Amanda and Guy Hemphill from Cheltenham and we answered the call for foster carers during the first lockdown.
We’ve since welcomed two young sisters into our family, alongside our three children, and would describe the experience as positive for the whole family – providing us with the opportunity to make a genuine difference.
When did you first hear about fostering?
Amanda had been interested in becoming a foster carer in earlier life, when living and working in London as a live out nanny.
When we got married, we both knew that we wanted a large family and by the time we moved to Gloucestershire, we were lucky enough to have three children of our own.
What was your first experience of fostering?
In our Cheltenham home, we hosted and privately fostered international students, which we found to be rewarding and interesting for our children, who discovered quite a lot about different countries and cultures.
Why did you get involved in fostering during the pandemic?
When the pandemic struck, Amanda saw a foster carer on the news talking about the need for new foster carers to come forward. The timing was right for us and we felt ready for the challenge.
Having discussed it at home it really dawned on us that this was a huge opportunity to make a genuine difference to the life of a young person who had not had the start in life that most of us take for granted.
What was the process like to become involved in fostering?
We rang Gloucestershire County Council and researched online and before too long, we had started the online training for emergency foster carers.
It all happened quickly and during the training, after hearing the first-hand accounts of experienced foster carers and meeting some great people on the course, we felt even more sure that this was something that we really wanted to do.
What is your fostering experience like now?
Six months later we have two girls living with us and feel that fostering has been a positive experience both for ourselves and our three birth children.
Our foster children appreciate the simple things in life, be it a Sunday roast, a clean school uniform, a hot water bottle or going for a family bike ride.
Every day that goes by we feel that they are a little bit more a part of the family and with five children in the house, there is rarely a dull moment!