“I just feel so good when they are happy,” said Caleb Campbell. He only started fostering when he was in his late 60s – but 12 years later he is enjoying it as much as ever.
After retiring from work, including a spell of 25 years at Heinz in Park Royal, Caleb made a big decision.
He said: “I felt a bit bored at home and I had two spare rooms and I saw an advert for fostering. I thought ‘well, I know about kids’ because I brought up a son of my own and come from a very large family.”
The first long-term foster child stayed with Caleb for eight years and is now grown-up and working. Caleb said: “He lives in Hanwell now but comes to see me often. He calls me Dad and he is my son. We don’t do anything in our family without him. This is still home.”
Currently, two teenage boys live with Caleb long-term. One is 16 and the other 19 and they have been with him for five and four years respectively.
“The youngest one used to be so shy,” remembered Caleb, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday. “I used to have to stay with him outside the school gates until the bell rang. But he grew in confidence and began to really develop and have friends. Both boys were praised as among the school’s best pupils and I feel very proud about that.
“They received a lot of encouragement from my son and my foster son. They all mix together like brothers and we are one big family.
‘They become part of my family’
“Every child who has come here is not treated like a stranger – they become part of my family. I always say – if you don’t like children, do not foster.
“I would recommend it to anyone thinking about doing it.
“There are challenges along the way – how can there not be? But Ealing Fostering Service is always there and it gives very good advice and support whenever you need it.
“And there are so many special moments – seeing them do well and being happy. And when it’s Father’s Day and they make me a card, the messages in there make it all worthwhile.”
Currently, Ealing has approximately 100 fostering households, but with around 350 looked after children, more carers from all backgrounds, ethnicity and ages are needed.
Foster Care Fortnight took place in May. To find out more about fostering, call the team on freephone 0800 731 6550, email email@example.com or visit www.ealingfosteradopt.co.uk (where you can also find out how to go to one of the regular information sessions).