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Day in the life of a female foster carer – 3rd August

Background
My name is Tabatha and I have been a foster carer for 6 years.

The young people I have been privileged to meet have often been hugely affected by their life experiences and just want to feel safe. It is fascinating to see what they develop into when you assist them to find their voice! The results may not always be what you like, as they normally need to work through a lot of anger.
Since working for the Compass Group, I have provided a long term home for two sets of siblings, have offered respite for various young people and have supported two young people who were not in main stream schooling to return.

We are proud to be foster carers!
 

Monday 3rd August

I’m not sure what people think of buying second hand things for foster kids and I know this is a grey area in fostering; but I love charity shops, jumble sales and eBay!

I volunteer at a national charity shop, which is something that I started to do when I joined Compass as I missed the routine and feeling of being in a work team. The benefits are that some of the stuff that is given away is totally fab! I have dressed my children in Boden, M&S, Ted Baker and Paul Smith for a few pounds and hardly ever feel guilty when they get messed up or put holes in things.

We always have the children’s feet measured at Clarks and they grow so fast when you start feeding them the right combinations of food; they are like plants and sprout up rapidly! G has consistently grown half a shoe size in the last 10 weeks for a year. She is 8 years old and a size 3.5. At her yearly medical (which is compulsory) she had grown 8cm in height! That’s a lot of clothes to get through.

I tend to keep things that are still serviceable and box them up in age/gender groups in my loft space, just in case they are useful in the future. G also has a plastic box which we put items that she would like to keep for her children and things that mean a lot to her. She likes to identify what other children will get enjoyment from too after she no longer wants them.

When we purchase clothing for G we tend to let her choose and she is still into sparkly, floaty skirts and images of dogs! We find that John Lewis has the biggest supply of these types of items and the children’s fitting room is big enough for pirouetting in! However these types of clothes are not ideal for her favourite activities which are climbing trees, circus acts on the monkey bars and trampolining.

Most of the children we have cared for have not had the experience of choosing clothes that they like or even new clothes. The first child we had asked us if we knew a shop called Scope as it’s where she got all of her clothes from. She quickly asked to go to Primark as her friends had told her about this mythical place, but when we took her she recoiled, hiding behind us crying at the door due to the overwhelming size and capacity of the building. She had never been out of a small town and had no idea of crowds or the vastness of a shop like that. It’s good to take them to a quieter place to begin with and give them a budget before they set off as moderation is often a sticking point.

G is fiercely proud of her clothes and her identity. She is involved in decision making about everything and really looks after them. She will prefer to hang things up so she can see them and does not like to use drawers, so we moved them out of her room. I have also colour coded the coat hangers (i.e. black for parties, blue for play clothes and grey for school) to differentiate otherwise she would dress for a party every day!

Each child has been different and it takes time to know what they like and I have bought things for every one that that have never used. Their personalities are very different but they all appreciate what they have and love their stuff just as much!