The Christmas holiday is a time for families, and epecially for children. But for some children, Christmas holds no promise of togetherness, and little chance of joy. That’s where foster carers can help. The Moment talked to Yvonne Petticrew of Peterborough City Council’s fostering team about how becoming a foster carer can transform young lives
Meeting Yvonne Petticrew of Peterborough City Council’s fostering team is a humbling experience. Not because she makes a big deal of what she does, but precisely because she doesn’t. Within the first few minutes of our talk, she has also completely changed my perception of fostering.
‘There is no job that can bring as much joy,’ says Yvonne. ‘Because you can turn a child’s life around. You can offer them hope, you can offer them an understanding about how life should be, how families operate – just a positive, stable, way of life.
Safety. Security. Happiness. Things that all children should be entitled to, but unfortunately don’t all receive.’ Having a little girl of my own, just three years old, and imagining her having none of these things – especially with Christmas approaching, when togetherness is at the heart of the celebration – these words really hit home.
It’s a gift for the carer, too, and on a whole range of levels
This offer of hope is, of course, the best present a child could have, at any time of year. But what becomes clear is that this works both ways. It’s a gift for the carer, too, and on a whole range of levels. Many of us already have an idea of the potential rewards, of course, and in adulthood we all know – especially if we are parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles – that giving a gift that is genuinely appreciated is every bit as satisfying as receiving one, perhaps far more so. We probably also know – though perhaps too often forget – that the need for foster parents stems from children being in terrible situations of abuse or neglect. That need is also great; there’s currently a nationwide shortage of foster carers, which means that thousands of children are going without the love that most of us take for granted.
One of the issues with fostering is the myths or misconceptions that surround it, which lead to many who might otherwise consider taking up the challenge to think that it is not for them, or that they would not be accepted as carers. Many potential carers seem to believe that some magical quality is required – some superhero power. Yvonne is keen to dispel some of those…