Whether they admit it or not, all teenagers need love and guidance as they start out in life. Foster carers have the opportunity to provide this support and no one knows this better than Nina Samuel.
We are half-way through national foster care fortnight – which ends on Sunday (29 May). Local people who have become foster carers have been explaining why it could be the right thing for you – and your family – to do, too.
Fourteen years ago, Nina decided to apply to become a foster carer with Ealing Council. Since then she has fostered girls and young women of ages ranging from 14 to 21: Eight teenagers, six mothers with babies and numerous respite placements.
Nina, who lives in Acton, said: “As a single parent with two young daughters, I felt I had the capacity to work with young people. A friend suggested I give fostering a go, so after some thought I decided to apply with Ealing.
‘I had misconceptions about children in care’
“Like many, before I started fostering I had my misconceptions about children in care – too many issues, sleepless nights and police knocking on the door. Since becoming a foster carer, I realise society often sticks labels on foster children as being problematic.
“My views have since changed. Foster children – like my own children – require love, stability and a chance to prove themselves.
‘Many twists and turns’
“I get asked all the time, ‘how do you deal with teenagers?’ Everyone experiences difficulty during their teenage years, coping with puberty, moving into high school and dealing with peer pressure. Although teenagers’ behaviour can be challenging at times, this task can be made less stressful if carers have the right support. I’ve found Ealing’s ongoing support and training has been great in assisting me in my role as a foster carer.
“For someone considering fostering teenagers, I would advise them to go in with an open mind and an open heart. It’s a journey with many twists and turns, but ultimately the joy of seeing a young person flourish in life is the greatest reward in this job.”
Could you be a foster carer like Nina? Are you interested in finding out more about fostering? You can call freephone 0800 731 6550, email email@example.com or visit the fostering page on the council website.