Lynne and Michael
Lynne was a childminder when she started fostering with her husband Michael in 1991 when they lived in Ickenham. The couple moved to Oxfordshire, but continue to foster children for Hillingdon Council.
Lynne said: "I'd been childminding for a while when I saw an advert in the paper for fostering. I already had experience with children and I wanted to build on my skills and give something back. Looking after children has always come naturally to me and I just wouldn't do it if it wasn't a rewarding experience. The children may have experienced difficult times so when they communicate their concerns; we empathise, look for appropriate solutions, and gradually build a relationship. At the end of each day, we know we have done our best for the children, and that's really fulfilling."
The couple also has 3 daughters of their own and Michael believes that it's important to treat each child equally. He said: "Having our own children has always really helped build trust and confidence with new foster children and we treat everyone the same and offer fair opportunities, consistency is key. Fostering is a personal experience and you have to look at each child and recognise their strengths; whether it's sport, work ethic or education. We love having an open house and we enjoy the big family environment - we're just a normal family."
Lynne and Michael feel very proud of the achievements of the children they have fostered. Lynne says, "Fostering can make such a lifelong difference to a child's life - for life. In fact, it can turn their life around. But we also get a lot out of it too. Michael loves involving the children in sporting activities, socialising around the barbecue, and having general discussions. There are also lots of training courses available which have allowed us to learn new skills and grow our knowledge and understanding."
Lynne concluded: "Fostering can be extremely rewarding, and foster carers play a vital role in supporting children and their families. To make a difference you need commitment and enthusiasm, so if anyone has just an inkling about fostering, please try it!"
Could you be like Lynne and Michael?