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Debra Harris

A blog written by one of our Foster carers, Debbie towards the end of 2020.

When thinking about Lockdown, it is a tale of two halves. Back in March as we entered the first Lockdown, I don’t think many would have envisaged that we would be where we are now!

The most traumatic thing for Missy*, my foster teenager, was her last day at school. It had been her safe place for many years so it was a shock that as she was in her final year that she may never see some of the staff and friends again. No leavers assembly, Prom or swapping of gifts and keepsakes.

I decided quite quickly that there would be positives to take out of the situation and before long Missy and I had a long list of what we could do rather than what we could not do. My daughter was spending a lot of time in hospital so I had her child living with me as well, so with a 10-year age gap home between the children schooling could be challenging! Our priority – with the blessing of school – was to concentrate on life skills.        

Luckily for us we were in part of a Mockingbird hub, one of ten fostering families that come together to do activities together. Our hub leads set weekly competitions, and soon the children  were busy designing/making Super Heroes, building rockets, painting rocks, sending postcards to USA, making decorations for VE to name a few. Every week Missy would be excited to hear what would be the challenge for the week and would spend several days working at.

Thankfully, the weather was kind, and we could do our exercise locally and spent a lot of time in the garden. It was also a great time to practice mindfulness and appreciate nature more. As restrictions were eased, we travelled to places that we felt safe and ventured to secluded beaches, we even had a go at fossil hunting; and we manage a trip to Alton Towers as a birthday treat.

When Missy turned sweet 16 in the summer. We managed a social distance get together at a local park where her friends were able to come and see her whilst maintaining a social distance. Although, it wasn’t what we had planned last year she had an ‘Awesome Day’ (her words!)

This second ‘lockdown’ has been harder is some ways, the weather hasn’t been great, but easier for Missy, she has been able to continue to attend college. We feel that her college is offering a very safe place and she can have some social interaction still.

It hasn’t been a whole bed of roses though and there has been challenges along the way, managing Missy’s anxieties about catching Covid and supporting her to not self-isolate herself from the world through fear of catching the disease.

Missy and I are very sociable and loved our trips out and always joined in Mockingbird and DFCA events, so it was a blow for them all to be cancelled. Thankfully, we have both made some real good friends in the Fostering community. I will be ever grateful as some will be lifelong for both of us. There has been catch ups via Zoom and FaceTime and an unofficial network of us checking in on each other. As a single carer this has kept me sane at times as just a friendly adult voice can be a tonic!

I think by the nature of being a foster carer we are always there to offer support and help and it is great when it is a 2-way thing. As things look like it will be a while before getting to “normal” there has to be lots of thinking outside the box.

We have had some lovely surprises from Trust, Mockingbird and Doncaster Foster Carer Association including Afternoon Tea, care packages, Halloween Activities and Christmas bags. These are really appreciated by not only the children but carers as well. Sometimes something small can be so BIG in these unusual times.

 

*Name changed to protect identity.

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