Posts tagged as: Blogs

The Foster Carer Wellbeing Diary: Setting Yourself Up For Success

Hello! I’m Matt. Mat Arlow

I’m a Compass foster carer from the South. I’m father to 3 beautiful grown-up daughters, and married to my wonderful wife (and partner in crime) Dawn. As a foster carer myself, I know how challenging it can be to find time for yourself.

Fortunately, I have 29 years experience delivering Health and Fitness training from my time in the army. Following my retirement, I’m now looking to share my knowledge and expertise with my fellow foster carers.

I hope that the information and advice shared in these monthly blogs will encourage foster carers to make positive changes and, most importantly, take some time to care for themselves.

Stay tuned!
Matt
 

As carers, we spend the majority of our time thinking about and caring for others.

But, I wonder, how much time you take looking after yourself or reflecting on your own behaviours?

Our own health and wellbeing can easily be put to the back of our minds, especially when we can be prioritising childcare, family, work and household jobs – to name but a few.

Many sectors of industry are focusing on the Workplace Health & Wellbeing of their employees, but for us carers, our workplace is our family home.

It can sometimes be hard to distinguish where home life stops, and work begins; often, it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Time to ourselves is often spent sinking into the sofa and shutting off to the world for as long as we can manage.

I’m on a mission to change that, with my new monthly blog, ‘The Foster Carer Wellbeing Diary’. These monthly blogs will focus on health behaviours and wellbeing, looking at how the choices we can make can benefit not only our own lives, but the lives of our families and the young people we look after.

Each month I will explore a new topic, sharing my experiences and knowledge along with sign posting you to resources you can access to support positive changes.

A Little About Me

A man hiking.

Before all that, though, I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself and hopefully give you an understanding of why I am writing these blogs.

My name is Matt. I am a 46 year old father to 3 beautiful grown-up daughters, and I am married to my wife (and long term partner in crime) Dawn. Just like you, we are foster carers, who are continually working to find some balance in this non-stop rollercoaster of life.

Having recently retired after 29 years in the Army, this is the first time in my adult life that I have complete freedom of choice and can truly make the choices in life that I want and importantly when I want.

For the past 25 years I have been fortunate enough to deliver Health & Fitness support to soldiers in many different capacities, from training soldiers for overseas operations, to mentoring future leaders at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

Throughout my last 6 years in the army, I was given the privilege of running health & wellbeing advisor training courses, alongside organising many other health training and campaigns.  A personal highlight for me was my being invited to deliver a presentation at the International Congress of Physical Performance in Quebec, Canada!

Overall, it has certainly been a journey of challenges and learning. In later blogs, I hope to reflect more on some of my own challenges and explain how I have found balance as a foster carer.

What Will We Cover?A collection of vegetables.

Over the years I have helped more than 2,000 service personnel, countless friends, and family members with their individual journeys.

I know that when it comes to health and wellbeing, there are so many sources of information that at times, it can feel like too much to take in. That, and, depending on where you are looking, there are some very contradictory opinions on what can or can’t work for you.

I am passionate about helping others and hope that you not only find these blogs interesting and informative, but also easy to follow for your own journey. Through these blogs, I hope to pass on many of the tips and education I have picked up over my career.

Some of the topics we will look at together include:

  • Nutrition
  • Diet Facts and myths
  • The benefits of being physically active
  • Building our own resilience and coping mechanisms
  • Smoking and Alcohol
  • Understanding our own Health Behaviours
  • Finding balance in life
  • Weight Management
  • Benefits of Sleep & Good Routine

Setting Yourself Up for Success with HonestyA man standing on top of a mountain.

When it comes to health and wellbeing, if I told you there is one model that fits all, I would be lying.  As individuals, we are all different – facing our own challenges and barriers to making positive choices in life.

One of the most important parts of self-care is self-reflection and being honest with ourselves about where we are in life today.  Who are you? What is important to you? What do you need? Do you accept yourself and, most importantly, are you being honest with your answers?  Self-efficacy, taking personal responsibility and owning who we are can be a very difficult thing to do.

The person we like to show others isn’t always the person we see ourselves as. I call this the “Facebook version” of ourselves – the positives often hiding the negatives, the pictures of the good times that are often only snapshots of our days, sometimes filtered or edited.

So, my first question to you all, is “Who are You?”.  When you look in the mirror, who do you truly see? Ask yourselves: do I really see me in the mirror, and what does that mean? When I personally look in the mirror and start any journey of self-exploration or change, I ask this question to myself.

Hopefully this first blog has caught your attention, I look forward to sharing with you all again next month.


Celebrating the Positive Impact of Our Social Workers

The role of a Supervising Social Worker can be both challenging and rewarding at times.

At Compass, our social workers are an essential, valued part of our community. They embody our ethos, committed to making a lasting and lifelong difference to the lives of the children and young people in our care.

That’s why, for World Social Work Day 2022, we wanted to take the time to celebrate the positive impact that our social workers have within our community.

Throughout their fostering experience, our foster carers and foster children have access to constant support and guidance from their personal supervising social workers. Our social workers are committed to their work, helping to calm nerves, soothe anxieties, find solutions to problems and advocate for the overall wellbeing of their foster carers and children.

One of our Compass foster carers, Shani, explained to us how her supervising social worker helps her and her foster child to feel ‘very supported.’

With her supervising social worker, Shani says she feels safe to ‘discuss any issues that may arise and discuss the progress of how (she) is getting on, and how the children are getting on.’

‘It feels like there’s always somebody there that you can talk to.’

Our social workers receive a range of training to ensure they can provide holistic emotional and professional support for our carers, young people, and children.

Each of our social workers is highly skilled, possessing a variety of unique strengths, knowledge and experiences that help them in providing tailored support. This support begins from the moment our foster carers start their fostering journey with Compass.

Rehana and Peter have been fostering with Compass for some time now. Yet, when they first became foster carers, they were anxious about the impact that fostering might have on their birth children and family dynamic.

However, Rehana explained how their supervising social worker ‘put (them) at ease’, helping to ‘put aside the anxieties (they) had for (their) children,’ and aiding family in feeling settled and at ease when welcoming their first foster child.

A young boy laughing.

We know that the issues that social workers deal with are seldom straightforward or easy-going. Many of the children and young people in our care have experienced trauma and instability throughout their lives. This means they may suffer from a range of issues, including attachment trauma, complex behavioural issues, depression, or neurological conditions like Autism and ADHD.

These issues require specialised care and support from both foster carers and their social workers. An important part of being a supervising social worker is providing foster carers with the information they need, signposting carers toward the right help, training, and guidance.

One of our foster carers, Sara, describes her Supervising Social Worker, Steph, as ‘an encyclopaedia of information.’

‘Her existing database in her brain is phenomenal.’

Sara’s supervising social worker, Steph, ‘gives (her) pre-emptive advice and information’ about the challenges that Sara might face in her fostering journey, all of which is ‘bang on point, every single time.’

For foster carers and foster children, this breadth of knowledge is essential. Our social workers help our foster carers by facilitating their personal development, all while ensuring that their foster children receive high-quality, needs-specific care that caters to their individual experiences.

At Compass, we know that the work our supervising social workers do is invaluable.

For our social workers, supporting foster families through tough times and ensuring that our vulnerable young people and children are safe and well looked after requires a lot of energy, patience, and emotional resilience.

However, our social workers are always committed to providing the best support possible for our community. We are incredibly thankful to all our social workers, for the work they do.

If you’re thinking of becoming a supervising social worker with Compass, or would like to know more, you can find out How to Become a Supervising Social Worker here.

Alternatively, if you have more questions regarding fostering, you can get in touch with us here.


Foster Carer’s Real Life Stories: Experiences Differ

We love to share our real life foster carer’s stories. There are so many different circumstances that everyone comes from, along with varied background and rich cultural lives- it’d be a shame not to celebrate them!

At Compass we champion diversity, and we look for the positives in everyone that applies to be a foster carer with us. We always search for ways in which being a foster carer can work for people, instead of reasons why they shouldn’t be one.

That’s what our ‘Potential Not Perfection’ motto is all about. It’s important to look at the side of everyone’s experience from many points, seeing how we can help you make being a foster carer fit into your lifestyle.

Take a look at a couple of our carer’s stories, we have families from all walks of life who have provided amazing homes for vulnerable children.

Working Fulltime: Emma and Simon’s Story

Emma and Simon have been part of the Compass Central region since June 2021. When the couple entered their fostering journey, they were unsure if they would be suitable to foster as they had not had any children of their own and were working full time. They have always known that they wanted to help a child and had looked at other options such as adoption but having spoken to Compass they decided to start their journey to become foster carers.

Compass saw the potential with Emma and Simon and during the assessment process looked at the flexibility of their employment and transferrable skills they could bring to fostering. We allowed the assessment process to make the decision whether or not they should or could foster.

Just two months after their approval, Emma and Simon welcomed two children into their home, aged 5 and 7 years old, and are now a busy household of four! Both children are now settled in new schools, having joined activities outside of school, like football and swimming.

A Hectic Household: Vernon and Steve’s Story

Vernon and Steve have been fostering with Compass since January 2020. They applied after adopting 3 children, aged 11, 8, and 5 years old. The couple reached out to Compass to see if it would be possible to look after a foster child alongside their adoptive children. They wanted to continue to help other vulnerable young children.

We welcomed Vernon and Steve into the fostering assessment process, and when approved as carers, Vernon and Steve worked closely with the Family Finding and Operations team to find the right child to come and live in their home. Initially it was thought that this would be one child, however 4 months later they welcomed not one, but three children into their home! A sibling group, twins aged 7 and an 8-year-old.

All the children are settled, and Vernon and Steve now have a busy household of 8!

Compass let the assessment process (and Vernon and Steve!) determine whether they were ready to foster after going through the process of adopting their children. Having a busy household should not stand in people’s way of considering whether to foster.

Thank you, Vernon and Steve and Emma and Simon, for making a lasting difference to children’s lives.

Please get in touch with us today if you would like to find out more information about becoming a foster carer.


Opening Your Home and Your Heart: Mark and Nick’s Fostering Story

There are many misconceptions when it comes to foster carer eligibility and LGBT+ parenting.

Many people believe that certain factors like age, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, or religion might prevent them from becoming foster parents. 8 in 10 LGBTQIA+ people believe that they will face barriers or discrimination when applying to become foster carers.

At Compass, this is not the case; we actively welcome foster carers from all backgrounds. We believe in seeing everyone’s potential as a foster carer, regardless of their sexual orientations or gender identities. We know these things have no bearing on a person’s ability to be a brilliant foster carer.

Mark and Nick have been fostering with us for over 9 years. When they were first looking at becoming foster carers, they too were conscious of how their sexuality would impact their experience as foster carers.

You can read more about Mark and Nick’s fostering journey, in their own words, below.

Mark and Nick’s Fostering Story

Adoption was the first call for us when we started on this journey, but we decided after a lengthy waiting time to think about the benefits we could give to many different children and young people by fostering.

Initially, we feared what people would think of a gay couple looking after someone else’s child, but we are strong couple and knew we could address any challenges sent to “test” us and thought to ourselves “if others can do it, why can’t we?”.

We did some research, and after hearing a radio advertisement for Compass Fostering, we called them about fostering. I wanted to ensure that we wouldn’t be turned down due to our sexuality: what would we do if this happened, how would we feel?

We first talked to Compass over the phone, and they arranged for a social worker from Compass Fostering to come and see us.

She spent a few hours talking to us in our home where we felt safe and comfortable. We talked about us, our lives and everything that was in it, as well as asking why we had chosen to look into fostering.

She made us feel really at ease and it was only afterwards that she said she was leaving paperwork for us to complete. Paperwork was an understatement; this was a book we were writing!

Mark, Nick and their foster child, Luke, at the Fostertalk Awards ceremony in 2014.
Mark, Nick and their foster child, Luke, at the FosterTalk Awards ceremony in 2014.

This was just the start of our assessment process to become carers. The assessment process was very intrusive; we looked back on all aspects of our lives.  When we were given our assessment report to read, both Nick and I were quite emotional. It was such an emotional journey, and our assessor had captured us exceptionally well.

Despite the process being in-depth, we fully appreciated the need for this. When looking after another person’s child you need to ensure that they will be safe.

Finally, we went to panel – and were accepted as foster carers. It was a scary experience; when the panel leader came out to tell us we had passed, Nick cried. We were delighted when we heard we were going to be recommended for approval.

It was not long before our first child was placed with us. We have had 4 fostering arrangements in total and 3 children are still with us now. 1 of them is in a ‘staying put’ arrangement and the other 2 are on ‘long term matches’, which effectively means they stay with us until they are at least 18.

We really enjoy our fostering life and having seen the children grow from strength to strength and achieve awards for everything they put their minds to is reward enough for us.

We’d urge other gay and lesbian couples to come forward and foster too. Like us, we suspect many couples don’t come forward because they are worried about what society will think.

We know that there are many couples out there who could offer wonderful homes for children who need to be safe, nurtured and loved.

You don’t just open your home when fostering, you open your heart, your mind and a whole new way of life for all involved.

Mark and Nick have gone on to achieve incredible things as LGBTQIA+ foster carers with Compass, and we are so pleased to have them with us.

Alongside fostering three brilliant boys, Mark and Nick won FosterTalk’s New Carers of the Year award in 2014! The award sought to recognise the incredible things that Mark and Nick have been doing as foster carer ambassadors.

If you think you could provide a safe and caring environment for a vulnerable young person, please get in touch with us to find out more about foster care! Our welcoming team will be happy to take you through any questions you may have.


‘Do You Have Ketchup?’: Young People Interview Potential Foster Carers

The journey to becoming a foster carer with Compass has various different steps!

Our young people stood with foster carers Nikki and Andy
Our young people with potential foster carers, Nikki and Andy.

The final stage of your fostering assessment journey is the fostering panel, where a recommendation about your suitability to be a foster carer is made.

Usually, our panels are led by individuals who are care-experienced and/or have a range of skills and experience in childcare, fostering, social work, health and education. However, on this occasion, we thought we’d try something a little bit different.

Instead of standard fostering panel members, we invited some of our very own young people from the North to conduct a mock panel!

New applicant foster carers, Nikki and Andy, agreed to sit down with our young people C, S, L, G, and T and answer a range of questions about fostering, in order to determine whether or not they would make good foster carers.

Below are some of our favourite questions from the mock panel, alongside Nikki and Andy’s answers!

Why do you want to be foster carers?

“We cannot have our own children and because I (Nikki) worked in a school as a teacher I thought it would be good to look after children in my home and give them a good start. I (Andy) would really enjoy having children in the home and I will still be at work, but I can be flexible so I can attend meetings or events.”

If you could be any animal or bird, what would you be and why?

“I (Nikki) would be a Robin because I love Christmas and love the red breast and it brings happy memories for me. I (Andy) would like to be a dolphin because I am not a good swimmer, and I would like to learn to swim.”

What would you do if a child did not like a food?

“I (Andy) would try and cook something different and if they hated it, I would ask them why, but we would always encourage a child to eat healthily but with some treats.”

Do you have ketchup in your house?

“Andy likes ketchup and I (Nikki) like brown sauce so we would have lots of different things in our cupboard.”

If a child was going through a rough time, how would you help them?

“We would let them know that we were here for them and give them some space and maybe leave some little notes to say we are ready when you are to talk, and we would try and do it in a nice way and we would ask if they wanted to write it down and let us read it so that we could talk after. We would just make sure that they knew we are there for them at all times.”

Following the interview section of the panel, our young people met in private to discuss Nikki and Andy’s answers. They worked together to identify any strengths or areas for development that Nikki and Andy might have.

Nikki and Andy’s strengths included enjoying football, wanting to make children happy, understanding sexuality and gender, talking to people, and understanding how to calm children down.

Their areas for development included not always being able to cook the right food and not being good at gardening.

After much discussion, our young-person’s panel came to the unanimous decision that they would recommend Nikki and Andy for approval, stating they would make brilliant foster carers!A young girl smiling.

In their feedback to Nikki and Andy, our young people said:

The panel commented on Nikki and Andy’s ability to answer questions well, their openness and flexibility, their willingness to do training and the great support they would provide a child.

‘Any child would be excited living with you, and you will make them feel wanted and welcome and so happy and you will care for them really well.’

We’re sure Nikki and Andy left feeling much more confident for their real fostering panel, and we wish them the best of luck.

We are so proud of our young people for asking some wonderful questions, which we will absolutely keep in mind for future panels!

If you’re interested to learn more about fostering or would like to become a foster carer like Nikki and Andy, get in touch! Our friendly local team would be happy to answer any of your questions.

 


“We get on like we’ve always been together!” Foster Carer Stories

At Compass Fostering we know that everyone comes from different backgrounds, has different life experiences, and have various reasons for wanting to become foster carers. That’s why when we talk to prospective carers, we see the amazing qualities that they could bring to a child’s life.

It can be daunting trying to find out more about becoming a foster carer, there’s lots of information out there, along with hearsay and myths that can be confused for facts.

Like any process that requires thorough checks and references, there are certain requirements that you need to meet to be a foster carer. But as long as you meet these basic criteria any fostering agency would be happy to talk to you to discuss your situation.

Flying Solo: Sarah’s Story

Sarah is a single foster carer with Compass Fostering, Sarah has always wanted to become a foster carer, this became a reality for Sarah in March 2021.

Sarah has not had her own birth children, but with Compass seeing the potential in her to be a fantastic foster parent, we encouraged her to continue her journey. Sarah welcomed a sibling group in April 2021, who are now settled into their new home.

“Becoming a foster carer is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Yes, it can be quite challenging at times, especially as a solo carer. But the help and support I receive from Compass is endless. No regrets, best decision ever and I wouldn’t change it for the world”.

At Compass we are never too quick to judge.

I know that there are many people who have the ability, drive, and commitment to work around these kinds of barriers, with the wrap around services Compass has to offer, we can progress new carers to take that leap of faith to start their fostering journey.

Challenging the Stigma: Garry’s Story

Garry had always wanted to be a foster carer, but with his criminal record, thought that he would be unable to.

Nevertheless, Garry decided to approach Compass’ recruitment team. After a thorough exploration of his background and record, the team found no reason why Garry wouldn’t make a wonderful foster carer. Compass understands that our applicants come from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences and look for the potential in all applicants.

We will never compromise the safety of our children and young people. That’s why we let the Government guidelines and National Minimum Standards determine who can and cannot foster, rather than basing our assessments on bias or judgement.

In some cases, depending on the type of background information, we sadly cannot allow individuals to be recommended as a foster carer. You can read here about being a foster carer with a criminal record.

Garry’s case is a testament to our open-minded approach. Since being approved as a foster carer, Garry has welcomed two foster children into his home, both of whom have settled in very well.

Thank you, Garry, for taking the plunge and making a lasting difference to children’s lives.

“My journey to becoming a foster carer started late in life. I’d thought about it for years then I took early retirement. When I made the move, I’m so glad I did. I now care for a lovely little 7-year-old boy, and we get on like we’ve always been together!”

We want to be the fostering agency that sees everyone’s potential. Compass offer a ‘screening in’ assessment process rather than ‘screening out’. As long as you meet our main criteria to be a foster parent, we’ll be more than happy to discuss your options.

Your friendly local Compass team are only a phone call, email or message away. Please get in touch with us today if you would like to find out more information about becoming a foster carer.


Being a Foster Sibling: E’s Story

Welcoming a foster child into your home can impact the lives of not only your foster child, but family life too – especially if you are fostering with a birth child still living in the family home.

Many foster carers already have birth children living in the family home when they decide to foster a child. While fostering with a birth child can sometimes be challenging at first, the the strong bond that is built between birth children and their new foster siblings can have a wealth of positive impacts for both sides.

Sharing their time, attention and belongings with a foster can teach birth children valuable life lessons, helping them to develop into a more selfless person as they get older. Foster and birth children can also be positive role models for one another. Their individual life experiences can help teach one another about social, religious, and cultural backgrounds different to their own.

E is the 14-year-old birth child of two of our foster carers in the South. Her family have been fostering and providing respite care for some time now. In this beautiful speech written for her school, E described the ways in which fostering has had an influence on her life.

You can read her speech below.

My parents became foster carers three years ago. After one year of rigorous checks, applications, and training, we became an official fostering family.

When I first told people that my parents were planning to foster, they thought that meant adoption. They had the idea that I was suddenly going to have a load of new siblings living in my house.

Being a child of carers, I have experienced many things that others my age couldn’t say they have. I don’t know any other children of foster carers. I believe this is because not many families foster which I think is very understandable considering the nature of the job and the level of challenge it can bring to the family dynamic.

Despite these factors, fostering can bring you pride and a sense of gratification. You can form amazing connections you never would have otherwise, which I have personally loved. I have been getting to know more people and hearing their stories.

I believe more people should consider fostering. Over 65,000 children live with almost 55,000 foster families. This is nearly 80% of the 83,000 children in care. Because of this, thousands of new foster families are needed each year. Of course, fostering is not for everyone, however I feel like it should be spoken about more.

Prior to the pandemic, in England there was a need for around 7,000 more foster families. Covid has affected fostering in a huge way. There has been a 44% rise in children needing to enter foster care. Inquiries about being a foster carer have dropped by 47%. This has created a state of emergency that needs to be fixed.

So why have I told you this? I’ve told you this because I feel that fostering should be more widely known about and spoken about. I hope that I have helped to help you start to understand what it’s like to be part of a fostering family.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to E for sharing her speech with us! It’s so important for others to know about how fostering can have a positive impact on your family dynamic.

If you think you could make a difference to the life of a young person, and are interested in becoming a foster carer, you can get in touch with us here.

You can also find more about the different types of fostering we offer here.


Impress the Kids with your TikTok Knowledge This Season

The online world of social media is developing at a rapid pace, with companies like Facebook pushing for the development of a metaverse, Youtube’s monthly users rising to 2.3 billion, and over 6,000 tweets being made every second on Twitter.

In this new era of technology, it’s likely that you’ve heard of the social media platform TikTok.

Wildly popular among children and teens, the video-based platform has become one of the most popular social media platforms among Generation Z.  Known for its viral, short-form clips, the app has more than 2.3 billion all-time downloads.

A big part of the app’s appeal is its ability to turn ordinary people into internet sensations. TikTok has been known to transform school students into fashion models and sending its most popular influencers to prestigious events like the Met Gala, or the MTV Movie & TV Awards.

Some of the biggest TikTok stars on the platform have millions of followers – in the eyes of their young fans, these creators are of celebrity status.

Maybe you’ve seen the young people in your life dance and lip sync to TikTok trends or heard them reference one of its many viral memes, and found yourself wondering – who are these celebrity-influencers, and what exactly are they famous for?

We’ve compiled a list of the top 6 most popular influencers on TikTok, to help you (and us!) get to know the ins and outs of the viral world. We’ll look at how these influencers came to fame and what they’re famous for, equipping you with the TikTok knowledge to impress your kids this Christmas!

Internet Safety

Compass knows that we all have a role to play in ensuring that the internet is a safe and enjoyable place for young people to explore. While we are in no way encouraging young people to use TikTok, we acknowledge that they likely will encounter this content in one way or another.

That’s why it’s important to make sure that your young people are accessing age-appropriate content on the internet, and are using social media responsibly and safely. You can find out more about internet safety for children here.

6. Loren Gray (@lorengray)

Loren Gray initially rose to internet fame on TikTok’s predecessor, the Musical.ly platform, at the age of 13. The American social media personality held the title of TikTok’s most-followed creator between March 2019 to March 2020, after joining the platform in 2015.

Born in 2002, Gray is 19 years old and best known for her lip-syncing and comedy videos that she posts to the TikTok platform. In the videos, Gray mouths along to various viral audio clips, her videos garnering millions of views and comments from her fans.

In recent years, Gray has expanded her career into music, signing a record deal with Virgin Records in 2018, before the release of her debut single ‘My Story.’

Gray’s singing career has landed her entry to various prestigious events, including performing at the close of Sherri Hill’s catwalk show at New York Fashion Week. She has also collaborated with a variety of notable brands across her social media platforms, including Charlotte Tilbury, Revlon, PLushes Pets and Pandora, with her popularity continuing to grow – as of 2021, Gray has 54.3 million followers on TikTok.

5. Spencer Polanco Knight (@spencerx)

Recognised on the internet as Spencer X, this American social media personality is best known for his beatboxing videos. Self-described as a ‘Mouth Music Man’, Spencer X’s TikTok account has amassed 55 million followers since he first joined the site in 2019.

Spencer began beatboxing in High School, teaching himself using video tutorials. Spencer grew a following by posting his own beatboxing tutorials, where he taught viewers how to beatbox in one minute.

Spencer tried attending University on two different occasions, but dropped out both times in order to pursue his dream of becoming ‘the largest man-made business within the entertainment industry.’

Spencer’s TikTok videos showcase his impressive beatboxing skills, positing original songs, collaborations and covers of popular or trending music. He’s not just popular with teens, but with big brands too, securing partnerships with companies like Nickelodeon, HBO, Sketchers, Monster Energy, Sony and Oreos.

4. Addison Rae (@addisonre)

TikTok personality Addison Rae is mainly known for her dancing videos, which became a sensation in 2019. In her dancing videos that she posted to the TikTok platform, Rae choreographs dance moves to trending songs, creating ‘dance challenges’ for others to participate in, some of which go viral.

Rae’s TikTok presence is marked by a following of 85.9 million fans, with each of her videos amassing 5-10 million views each.

More recently, Rae has also made her debut in the music and acting industries. Rae’s media presence has rapidly grown, with the 20-year-old budding into a mainstream celebrity. She has released her own single, ‘Obsessed’, which garnered an impressive 24 million views since its release in March, 2021.

In 2021, Rae also starred in the 2021 Netflix remake of the 1999 film ‘She’s All That’, titled ‘He’s All That.’ Her acting and music ventures have seen her brush shoulders with a variety of celebrities, but her most notable – and bizarre – celebrity connection is with the Kardashian family.

Addison has been close friends with Kourtney Kardashian since 2020, starring in workout videos together, and meeting for lunch – sometimes at the Kardashian household.

tiktok famous

3. Bella Poarch (@bellapoarch)

Bella Poarch is the woman behind the most liked video on TikTok. After joining the platform in 2020, Poarch shot to fame, becoming TikTok famous after a video of her lip-syncing to Millie B’s song ‘Soph Aspin Send’ went viral. The video accumulated over 658.5 million views, 54.2 million likes, and 2 million comments.

This video catapulted the 24-year old Filipino-American influencer to fame, earning her 86.4 million followers on TikTok.

Interestingly, Poarch served in the US Navy between 2015-2019 before her career as a social media influencer started, stationed in both Japan and Hawaii. However, following her success on TikTok, Poarch has since launched YouTube, Twitch, and Twitter channels, amplifying her online presence.

Continuing her rise to stardom, in May of 2021, Poarch signed a record deal with Warner Records and released her debut single, ‘Build a Bi*ch.’ The song critiques the social pressures placed on women’s bodies, and was hailed ‘an audacious, darkly comic slice of new-school pop’ in Billboard’s review of the song.

2. Khabane Lame (@khaby.lame)

Khabane Lame is a heart-warming internet success story, and one of the most famous TikTok stars. Having lost his job in the Coronavirus pandemic, the Senegalese-born 21-year-old found a new source of income in the form of TikTok popularity.

Joining TikTok in March 2020, Lame became famous for his unique style of video in which he reacts to unnecessarily complicated “life-hack” videos. In the videos, TikTok creators show off so-called life hacks that are aimed at making tasks, such as household cleaning or makeup, easier.

Unfortunately, most of the time, these hacks are nonsensical and appear to make these tasks even more complicated, such as using dish-sponge nail extensions to clean a plate, or using spoons to apply eyeliner. This is where Lame’s videos come in – his deadpan, wordless reactions in which he does the same task but in a far simpler manner, are a hit with his 123.9 million fans.

Speaking to the New York Times, Lame explained that his expressions are a ‘global language’, with the New York Times pinning his success on his ‘universal exasperated everyman quality.

1. Charli D’Amelio (@charliedamelio)

With a jaw-dropping 131.8 million followers, 17-year-old, Connecticut-born Charli D’Amelio comes in first as the most followed creator on the TikTok platform.

D’Amelio started dancing at the age of three and was a trained competitive dancer for over 10 years prior to joining the TikTok platform. After joining TikTok in 2019, D’Amelio began growing an audience through the popularity of her dancing and choreography videos. A video of D’Amelio performing ‘the Renegade’ dance challenge is just one of her many dance videos that have achieved internet virality.

In the past year, D’Amelio’s fame has extended beyond the realms of TikTok platform, propelling D’Amelio into mainstream media. In January of 2020, D’Amelio (and her family) signed with the United Talent Agency (UTA). UTA work with the D’Amelio’s to produce digital content, books, podcasts and TV shows and also coordinate live tours.

Since signing with UTA, D’Amelio has become one of the first TikTok stars to ever star in a Superbowl Commercial. The family have also starred in their own Hulu docuseries, ‘The D’Amelio Show’, with Charli and her sister, Dixie, even designing their own clothing line with fashion brand, Hollister.

Biggest TikTok Stars

We hope that our guide to the top 6 most popular TikTok stars has helped give you some insight to the world of social media internet personalities. It’s fascinating to see how much the power of the internet can change young people’s lives, and we have no doubt that you’ll wow your family with your newfound knowledge over the Christmas period.

If you think you could change the life of a young person, get in touch with us to find out more about fostering.


How is Christmas Celebrated Around the World?

For many people, Christmas is the most important holiday of the year. Despite traditionally being a Christian holiday, Christmas is now celebrated as a religious and cultural event in 160 countries across the world.

The Christmas season symbolises a time of joy, prosperity, and family. Throughout December, Christians and non-Christians alike gather with their friends and family to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate the year.

In the UK, family and friends exchange gifts and eat a turkey roast, pull Christmas crackers, and decorate trees in baubles and lights. These Christmas traditions are sacred to those celebrating Christmas in the UK, and are part of what makes the holiday so special.

But what about other countries across the world? What traditions do they have, and how do they celebrate Christmas?

Join us in taking a look at Christmas traditions around the world, and how various different countries celebrate!

New Zealand

Most of us imagine snow and knitted jumpers when we think of Christmas. For people in New Zealand, however, this image is the opposite! Our winter is their summertime, and so New Zealanders celebrate their Christmas in the heat of the summer sun. Because of this change in climate, certain Christmas traditions look slightly different in New Zealand.

Lots of people in New Zealand spend the Christmas Holidays sprawled on the beach, so its only natural that Santa Claus does the same! Some renditions of Santa see him ditch his steel-capped snow boots for more weather appropriate jandals (New Zealand sandals), donning a red and white flower-print shirt instead of his trademark suit.

New Zealander’s also have their own Christmas tree, the Pōhutukawa. The Pōhutukawa has bright red flowers, and holds an important place in Maori mythology. In the myth, the blood-red flowers are said to represent the blood of a warrior who perished while trying to avenge his father’s death. The Maori also used the flowering of the Pōhutukawa tree as an indicator of the changing seasons from December through to January – which is how it came to be known as a Christmas tree.

Germany

Christmas in Germany starts at the beginning of Advents Zeit, Advent season. Throughout December, German families often partake in Adventskranz. Unlike chocolate advent calendars, these traditional Advent wreaths consist of four candles, set in a bed of pine cones, dried flowers, berries, and Christmas ornaments. Families light an extra candle every Sunday in the lead up to Christmas, counting down to Christmas day!

A favourite festive holiday among children in Germany is December 5th, St Nicholas Day. On the night of this holiday, German children clean and shine their boots and shoes, and leave them outside their doors before going to sleep. When they wake the next morning, St Nicholas has filled their shoes with nuts, sweets and small gifts – if they have been good, that is.

While in the UK, Christmas Eve may be a cause for indulgence and celebrations, in Germany, one in two Germans eat a simple meal of sausage and potato salad. This Christmas custom dates back to the traditional German fasting period from St Martin’s Day on 11 November until 24 December. This simple dish is symbolic of fasting and helps to prepare Germans for their lavish Christmas Day meal of traditional roasted goose, red cabbage and potato dumplings.

A traditional german Adventkratz.

Philippines

In the Philippines, Christmas is known as Pasko. Formal Christmas celebrations start on the 16th of December, when many people attend the first of nine early morning masses. These consecutive early morning masses are called Misa de Gallo, or Simbang Gambi, with the last mass taking place on Christmas Day.

In the Philippines, Christmas customs come from a mixture of native Filipino traditions and western influences. One of the most beautiful Christmas customs that can be observed in the Philippines is the Ligligan Parul, or ‘The Giant Lantern Festival’.

Held in the City of San Fernando, Pampagna, The Giant Lantern Festival is an exhibition of huge, colourful lanterns that symbolise the Star of Bethlehem. Each sparkling parol (lantern) is made from thousands of spinning lights that are beautiful against the night sky.

Japan

Christmas has only been a widespread celebration in Japan for the past few decades. It’s not necessarily considered a religious holiday, as there are not many Christians in Japan. However, for many people in Japan, Christmas is recognised as a time of great happiness and, for some, even romance.

Japanese people primarily celebrate Christmas Eve over Christmas day, which is thought of as a romantic day. Much like Valentine’s Day celebrations in the UK, Christmas Eve is a day where young couples might exchange gifts, take sentimental walks and go for romantic dinners in expensive restaurants.

Unlike a turkey roast, Christmas dinner in Japan looks a little bit different. The Christmas food of choice is fried chicken, especially chicken from KFC. It is the busiest time of the year for restaurants such as KFC, with people in Japan placing orders at their local branch months in advance! Alongside KFC, people in Japan also enjoy a Christmas cake, a sponge cake decorated with strawberries and whipped cream.

Poland

In Poland, Christmas Eve is known as Wigilia. On this evening, many Polish families share in an oplatek, a rectangular, thin, flavourless wafer that must be consumed before the Christmas Eve meal can begin.

The eldest member of the family begins by breaking off a piece of the waver, and then passes it round the table for the rest of the family to take a piece. Prayers are said throughout this ritual, with family members wishing each other good health and fortune.

Dinner may not begin, however, until it the first star can be seen in the night sky – this reminiscent of the Wisemen who followed the star to Jesus. When the first star has appeared, dishes are set out on the table. These 12 dishes represent good luck for the coming 12 months, or, if the family are religious, the 12 dishes can also represent Jesus’ disciples.

All the dishes are meat free and include food like beetroot soup, carp and dumplings.

Mexico

In Mexico, Christmas celebrations run from December 12th, all the way through to January 6th. From December 16th to Christmas Eve, children in Mexico often perform Posadas. Translating to a hotel or inn, these processions are a celebration of the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth, commemorating the journey of Mary and Joseph and their search for somewhere to stay in Bethlehem.

Posadas often feature hot drinks and food, music, and sweets, with the outside of houses lit up by paper lanterns. Piñatas are an especially important part of Posada party celebrations and are often made from decorated clay or papier-mâché jars.

Christmas Eve, or Noche Buena, is considered a family day in Mexico. On the day, families take part in the final Posada, then return home to sit round the table for their main Christmas meal. Popular dishes for a Mexican Christmas meal include Pozole, a thick soup made with chicken or pork that is sprinkled with chillies.

A collection of colourful pinatas.

It is incredible to see just how different Christmas around the world varies. From fried chicken in Japan, to potato salad in Germany – you might even want to introduce some of these traditions into your own home!

However you celebrate Christmas, we think you’re certain to wow your family during your Christmas dinner with your newfound cultural knowledge.

If you think you could make a difference to the life of a vulnerable young person this Christmas, get in touch with us to find out more about fostering.


Foster Children Interview our Family Finding Team

Have you ever wondered how young people in care are matched with their foster families?

Two of our foster children, S (14) and L (10) found themselves asking this very question. S and L have been with their current foster family for over a year now.

S and L wanted to know how they were matched with their current foster family, and what kind of things are taken into consideration when placing a young person into a foster home.

To find some answers, they sat down in an interview with Michelle and Jazz from one of our regional Family Finding Teams, who oversee foster care placement matching. Here are S’ thoughts on the interview, in her own words.

The Interview

I am S and I am 14, and my younger brother, L, is 10. We have been in foster care for a couple of years now and we were matched and placed with our current foster family 16 months ago.

We are both happy and settled in our foster family. We have a close bond with our foster parents and siblings, and we will remain here.

Earlier this month my brother and I got the opportunity to meet the matching team at Compass. Between us we asked several questions about what their jobs entailed.

L: “Do you look at the children’s hobbies, and try and match them? For example, I like sports.”

M & J: “Yes that is particularly important, as it will make a good match.”

L: “Do some carers just want children of certain ages placed with them, for example 5–10-year-olds?”

M & J: “Yes, they do because all children and families are different and it’s about taking into consideration their needs.”

At this point, L noticed the biscuits in the office and became more interested in how he could get his hands on those. So, I managed to rustle up a couple of questions.

S: “How do you pair families?”

M & J: “We look at location, school, friends and siblings to see if we can keep them together or not. We look at the whole situation and try to find somewhere the children will be happy.”

S: “What information [about the child(ren)] do you get from Local Authorities, and do you feel you get enough information?”

M & J: “Yes we get a good amount of information to go on, and it will be things like, the child’s history, their interests and hobbies, their favourite foods, and dislikes, medical and support needs, if they like pets.”

S: “Do your pairings always work?”

M & J: “We go by referrals sent to us and then look for the carer. It does not always work, as some young people will not always settle, or feel comfortable.”

S: “Where would the child go if they felt the family was not right for them?”

M & J: “They would speak with their social worker.”

S: “Has the technique you use to pair your children with the family been around a long time, or has it been updated?”

M & J: “It has been around for a long time.”

S: “Do you feel you do well with your pairings and what areas could you improve?”

M & J: “We do think we do well, but there is always room for improvement. We always look at the child’s needs as the priority, as the children are especially important.”

At this point I was impressed with the team and have a new level of respect for how much work everyone must do.

We loved meeting both Michelle and Jaz. They had a great energy, and it was clear they were passionate about matching the children with the right foster families, taking into consideration many different things.

Michelle and Jaz were brilliant and fun and made us feel at ease. L even managed to charm them out of a packet of biscuits!

What really stood out for me was that everyone wants our placement or family to work, and I came away knowing we are important.

Thank you, Michelle and Jaz, we enjoyed meeting you both.

Love from S and L xx

S and L interview our Family Finding Team

If you think you could make a difference to the life of a young person, and are interested in becoming a foster carer, you can get in touch with us here.

You can also find more about what the role of a foster carer entails here.