News - Stay up-to-date with our news and all the latest developments in the fostering community.

Tributes to much loved foster carer of nearly 60 years

We have had tributes pour in for a beloved Compass foster carer, Janet Kent, 79, who sadly died suddenly at the end of February. Janet had been fostering with her husband Tom in for 59 years and had taken care of a staggering nearly 300 children in this time.

Everybody at Compass was saddened to hear the news of Janet’s passing and we have been celebrating her amazing fostering journey as it was a huge part of her lifetime. Janet left a lasting impact on not only the children she cared for, but every professional she came into contact with and other foster carers she met along the way. Janet had ‘amazing energy’ and dedicated her life to looking after vulnerable young people. She made sure to a make everybody who entered her home feel warm, with one of our social workers commenting that, “Tom and Jan’s home is lovely and homely, you feel comfortable as soon as you walk in and always feel welcome to stay. If this is how a professional was made to feel, then I would suggest that a child would feel this even more.” Both Janet and Tom kept ongoing relationships with many of the children they looked after well into adulthood. Now grownup, Ellis, who was cared for by the couple said that, “Jan was a great woman, from the moment I was fostered by her she was more of a mum than my real mum was.”

The staff at Compass said that it was “always a pleasure to support and work with Jan and Tom. Even after 50 plus years of fostering, their commitment to looking after children shows both their resilience and flexibility; along with the pleasure they get from fostering”. Janet truly believed that all young people had brilliant potential, and she said herself she felt that she ‘never wanted to put pressure on children, and having engaged with teenagers frequently, she felt she was good at helping them turn their lives around’. Daniel lived with Janet and Tom for over 20 years and moved out in 2016, he remembers his time with them saying, ‘without Tom and Jan, I simply wouldn’t be here. I moved through many foster carer’s homes before I arrived with Tom and Jan. I had a lot of difficulties and they stuck by me through it all. Tom and Jan are a massive influence on me and continue to be. They always made me feel part of the family’.

hearts

Janet and Tom ensured all foster children who entered their house were accepted by everyone in their close-knit family network. Each young person was made to feel safe, welcomed and treated as a part of their family. They were thoughtful and conscientious carers and would often go the extra mile for children in their care. Another care leaver, Nico stated ‘I moved to Tom and Jan’s when I was 10 many years ago. Both carers went above and beyond to help and support me and put me on the path to success in life. The majority of children who lived with them went on to succeed in life due to the love and care they offered. I didn’t know what a family was until I lived with them, Jan was a real mum to me. There is not enough I can say or do to show them how important they are to me and thank them for never giving up on me.’

Foster parents have an annual review each year, in Jan’s final review she said, ‘the most important impact [of fostering] was seeing the children leaving our care go into the world more knowledgeable and adapting to life’s challenges with more confidence and integrity, with love and care.’ Jan changed hundreds of lives and made such a difference to every foster child she cared for.

We could produce pages and pages of Jan’s achievements and tributes as she was loved by so many. We hope that this shows how incredible Jan was as a person and foster parent. She always wanted to encourage others to become foster carers as she knew just how rewarding it was- both for foster parents and young people.


Clap for our Carers: Showing Appreciation for NHS Staff During Coronavirus

A massive round of applause will be taking place this Thursday to show thanks to the NHS staff working tirelessly to keep us and our families safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Clap for our Carers campaign is calling for as many members of the public to join together (keeping a sensible amount of distance) to show their thanks to the NHS staff for all the work they do. From our front doors, balconies, gardens, windows or living rooms, on the 26th March, there will be a huge round of applause taking place at 8pm.

Let’s join at 8pm to thank our key workers for all they do.

Across the world other countries have taken part in this campaign already in masses including, India, Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands. The message has been shared millions of time around social media and for those who may be self-isolating or distancing at the moment, showing appreciation for our key workers is extremely important to them.

The organiser of the campaign in the UK has set up their own website dedicated to the day, and said that as the Netherlands have done this for their key workers, ‘being a Dutch Londoner, I want to pass this on in the country I feel so at home, and the NHS had been nothing but amazing to my family and myself!’

At Compass we want to not only thank the wonderful NHS workers on the frontline, but our incredible social workers and fantastic residential staff that are working day in and out to safeguard our children. Our foster carers also deserve the recognition they so greatly deserve, providing a safe home for children in this unprecedented time is a noble act and we thank you deeply. We’ll be clapping for you all.

The campaign runners have asked ‘please don’t forget to stream/record your applause and post them using the #clapforcarers /#clapforourcarers tags, so that when they need a boost all they need to do is just look for it online.’

If you are concerned about Coronavirus, please see our information page about COVID-19. Here there is information for foster carers and staff along with a children’s guide to the virus with the latest government advice.


How to Work from Home: 16 Tips to Keep You Productive

For some of us, the idea of working remotely within the comfort of our own home is the perfect embodiment of a work/life balance. However, if you find it difficult to focus and get things done outside of the office, working from home can be easier said than done. Here are our top tips to help you maintain your productivity and sanity while you’re working from home.

Set up your environment

1. Designate a safe working area

Make sure where you set up is quiet, well-lit and private. Choose a suitable temperature for the room as this can quickly become irritating if you’re too hot or cold. A comfortable chair will help your posture and productivity too.

working from home

2. Separate work from leisure.

Avoid working in a part of the home where you would ordinarily relax i.e. on your sofa or bed (your neck will hurt, too). It is important that you have a place to retreat to once your working day is done, as you would after a day at the office.

3. Sort your supplies.

Have all your materials you will need for the day at the ready e.g. pens and paper, waste bin, notepads. It will save a lot of turning the house upside down looking for these in the long run.

4. Turn off the TV

Play some suitable music softly in the background to create a calm ambience instead- you don’t need to watch that episode of Come Dine with Me.

5. Dress for work

Wearing what you would normally wear can help, pyjamas are comfortable, but they don’t help you feel motivated.

6. Stay hydrated

Have a glass of water by you and keep drinking throughout the day, staying hydrated helps you stay focused.

Manage homeworking time

7. Have a routine.

It can be lonely and a procrastinating dream – housework can seem interesting- but that load of laundry doesn’t have a deadline.

writing a to do list

8. Write a to-do list

Write a to-do list of tasks you need to complete by close of play and attach times to your tasks if possible. This way you can build a realistic picture of everything you want to achieve during the day.

9. Block your time out

Set yourself tasks and complete them within the set timeframes – these small wins will keep your day structured and stop you from starting several tasks at the same time and feeling like you haven’t really achieved anything.

10. Take Breaks!

All work and no play is not a good strategy. Distractions are one thing but avoiding a little time off to break up the day and refocus is quite another.

Guidance and good practice

11. Keep Connected!

Whether it’s a quick call to the office to check in, instant messaging or Skype, stay in touch. This can avoid feelings of being isolated or out of the loop.

keeping in touch

12. Keep the kids distracted

If you have children or young people to consider when you are working at home, plan childcare or activities to keep them busy.

13. Set boundaries with friends and family

It is important that they know you’re working and that it isn’t appropriate to pop round or phone you for a chat during your working day.

14. Take your lunch!

Make sure you take regular breaks or a regular lunch break at the very least (going al-desko in your dining room does not count).

15. Get some air

It’s important to get up and walk around occasionally. If you have an outside area and can, go out and get some fresh air.

16. Get the kettle on

Let’s get this done!

If you are concerned about COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus information page with the latest updates from the government regarding advice, along with information for staff and foster carers.


Compass Fostering is Fighting Homelessness

One third of care leavers experience homelessness in the first two years of leaving care. Our Compass Community CEO, Bernie Gibson was horrified when she learned this statistic, so she decided she wanted to help.

On Thursday 12th March, Bernie will be giving up her home comforts to spend the night sleeping outside to help try to combat homelessness. She will be taking part in a countrywide fundraising event called the CEO Sleepout, raising money to fight poverty and homelessness.

It’s hard to not be are aware of the saddening statistics across the country; with an estimated 320,000 people in the UK classed as homeless- we want this to change. Everyone’s circumstances are different and any one of us could be a wage packet away from a difficult living situation, going from renting, owning or staying in our own accommodation to having no fixed address to our name. One of our Compass Supervising Social Workers, John has had his own experience with being homeless- he shared his story with us in hope to help inspire others to take action.

John served in the Army, during which time he was injured and spent some time in Headley Court Hospital, before being discharged. He had no home to go to and was unable to find supported living. Funds and support can run out for many people in his situation, which sadly happened instantly for John as he left Headley Court. Without a permanent fixed address to his name, finding work to pay for temporary accommodation became near impossible and he found himself in a dire living situation. John recounted his final night of homelessness, when he was taking shelter in a stranger’s garden:

‘I was cold to the bone, it was still dark, I lay there under a sheet of corrugated iron in only my coat. Contemplating and listening for danger as I was in someone’s back garden- I remember feeling the cold as though I had died a little more that night.’

‘I found myself waiting in the dark outside a little café in a side street, as the morning hours passed, I saw the price list on the window for a cup of tea. The realisation slowly settled into my mind that I only had 18p and could not afford a cup of tea, even when the shop opened; I continued standing there, waiting for a long time.’

John didn’t give up hope, he continued to try to find work whatever way he could, after all, he had joined the Armed Forces to help his country and other people- and he wanted to continue to do so. ‘Later that day I found the warmth of the job centre and again went through the cards which held promise, collecting anything new, I queued to be seen.’ Keeping positive, he managed to secure himself an interview for a security job in Sutton for that afternoon. He needed to kill some time and keep warm before his meeting. ‘I walked mindlessly on and off the train without paying and arrived to be given my first cup of tea for some days. I was given the job and slept on the office floor, even given access to the tea and biscuits! The next morning my new manager brought in a sandwich and gave it me as though this was nothing significant…’ Being shown humanity is so vital in such precarious situations like John’s, he was given a chance to prove his abilities regardless of his circumstances.

Sadly, the odds are stacked against care leavers, as many young people in care are expected to leave their homes at a much earlier age than their peers who are not looked after. We know how important encouraging young people to be prepared for adulthood is; our foster carers teach independent life skills in hope that these stay with our young people well into the future.

hands hold cup of tea
Sometimes just a cup of tea is enough to show someone who is struggling some humanity. The charity Coffee4Craig is based around this concept.

Fortunately, after a successful 30 year-long career working in the care sector, John now works as a Supervising Social Worker with us. Now he is able to safeguard vulnerable children and gives our foster carers the professional support that they may need. ‘My real motivation is to make sure our looked after community of children are equipped for adult life.’

Tackling homelessness is in the hearts of many at Compass. One of our incredible foster carers, Yvonne, has signed up for a bumper rest of 2020. She’s taking part in numerous fundraising events all over the country for another charity fighting homelessness in the UK. We will be following Yvonne’s ventures as she goes.

We want to wish Bernie the best of luck with her CEO Sleepout, if you would like to donate to her JustGiving page for the cause, please click here along with Yvonne’s page here

Helpful resources:


Information For Foster Carers About Coronavirus

DAILY CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

The government have a dedicated webpage for guidance, which is updated daily.

Click here to view

INFO FOR STAFF

We are updating policies and action plans daily, please visit 360 for updates.

Click here to view

We are following government guidelines carefully, and are keeping both foster carers and staff updated with any developments within our service. If you have any concerns that are not answered on the government website, please contact your line manager or supervising social worker.

The government have put together a page specifically for guidance on vulnerable children and young people, which you can access here.

They have also produced some publications with guidance info, in a range of languages and reading abilities here.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus/COVID-19?

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

Resources


Raising Money for the Homeless With CEO Sleepout

“One third of care leavers experience homelessness in the first two years of leaving care”

When Bernie Gibson, Compass Community CEO heard this statistic she was horrified, so she decided to do something to help.

That’s why she will be giving up her bed and home comforts and spending a night sleeping outdoors, raising money to help people who need it most.

She will be doing this as part of CEOSleepout, a charity with the aim to fight homelessness and poverty one city at a time. Business leaders join forces for one night, giving up the comfort of a warm bed for someone who doesn’t have one. You can read more about the word the CEOSleepout do on their website.

Bernie has pledged to hit a target of £1,000, and she needs your support. Please donate anything you can, however big or small.

Donate to this great cause by clicking here.


Reasons For a Child to be Taken Into Foster Care

There are many different reasons why a child might be taken into foster care. We’ve created this infographic to explain some of the main ones.


Healthier Lunchbox Ideas for Fussy Eaters

Research shows that eating habits formed in early years tend to stick into adulthood. In fact, a Children’s Food Trust study has shown that children in primary schools are 6 times more likely to concentrate in the classroom following improvement in school meals.

So Zita Steyn is on a mission to empower parents to take responsibility for your own and your children’s health. Foster Children are not alone in sometimes having varied or challenging eating habits. We’ve teamed up with Zita and a few of our favourite family bloggers to bring you some delicious, healthy fun packed lunches. Enjoy!

What are the advantages of a healthy lunchbox?

Author: Zita Steyn of foodfights.co.uk

Healthy foods are full of nutrients to feed a young brain, allowing children to perform better in school. In fact, students who eat school breakfast regularly have higher maths grades, fewer instances of absenteeism or tardiness, and fewer emotional and behavioural problems. A Children’s Food Trust study has shown that primary school children are three times more likely to concentrate in the classroom after improvements in their school-based diet.

With a higher intake of essential nutrients, a child’s mental and physical health will also improve. This makes them less susceptible to a range of illnesses and able to recover from injuries quicker – and we all know how clumsy kids are in the playground!

Swipe through these great lunchbox ideas

LUNCH 1 OF 6

Rainbow Wraps

What's in the lunch
• Rainbow wrap
• Fruit water (cucumber and mint)
• Apple or tangerine
• Lightly salted popcorn
• Boiled egg

 
Method
1. Spread the hummus evenly onto the wrap, leaving a border along the top end.
2. Place the spinach leaves down in a single layer, pile grated carrot into the centre and lay pepper sticks across.
3. Fold the bottom half over the fillings, ensuring you have a tight roll, then roll upward towards the top end. Cut in half or slice into thirds.

Swipe for next recipe >>>

LUNCH 2 OF 6

Zita's Pasta Lunch

What's in the lunch
• Fruit water (lemon and lime)
• Wholemeal pesto pasta salad with salmon & peas
• Pineapple wedges, raspberries
• Natural Greek yoghurt with pumpkin seeds & raw honey
 
Method
1. Put a medium bunch of basil & parsley, a small bunch of dill, peeled garlic clove, pinch of salt and black pepper in a food processor and blitz until roughly chopped.
2. With the motor running, slowly add 80ml of olive oil until you reach your desired consistency (the pesto should be loose enough to fold into cooked pasta).
3. Combine the pesto with cooked pasta, cooked salmon & defrosted frozen peas. Add a little more olive oil and pasta cooking liquid if it needs it.

Swipe for next recipe >>>

LUNCH 3 OF 6

Frittata Fingers

What's in the lunch
• Frittata Fingers
• Cherry Tomatoes
• Satsumas/Clementine
• A savoury snack

 
Method
1. Dice and fry bacon (fat removed) for a few minutes, then add oregano. Add celery, onion, grated carrot and garlic and cook on a low heat.
2. Add some boiled chunks of potato and some peas, then toss everything together in the pan. Let everything cook for a few minutes.
3. Whisk together 8 eggs and add some grated cheese (parmesan works great). Pour the egg & cheese mixture into the pan of ingredients.
4. Leave to cook slowly on the hob and add halved cherry tomatoes.
5. Once cooked through, place under the grill to cook the top.

Swipe for next recipe >>>

LUNCH 4 OF 6

Pita & Veggie Dipping Lunch

What's in the lunch
• Pitta Bread
• Hummus
• Veg Sticks
• Berries

 
Method
This is a simple, quick and nutritious lunch for fussy eaters. Donna say’s “The children love what they call dippy lunches and a box full of toasted pitta and veg sticks that they can dip into a portion of hummus is an ideal lunch for them”. You can use any crudités for this, a portion of cheese for extra protein, hummus, a handful of fresh berries and some fresh pita or flatbread.

Swipe for next recipe >>>

LUNCH 5 OF 6

Quesadilla & Antipasti

What's in the lunch
• Quesadilla
• Celery and bell pepper sticks
• Grapes (or berries)
• Cured meats – prosciutto, salami etc.
• Sour cream for dipping

 
Method
1. Pop a tortilla in a hot frying pan and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated cheese on top. Wait 30 seconds.
2. Add cooked and diced, sautéed veggies (for example - mushrooms, red onion, peas, tomatoes). Place another tortilla on top. Flatten in the pan, making the cheese melt the tortillas together.
3. Fry for 1-2 minutes on each side. Cut into quarters.

Swipe for next recipe >>>

LUNCH 6 OF 6

Picky Eaters Dippers

What's in the lunch
• Pan-fried Sausage
• Houmous and Chutney Dips
• Tortilla Chips
• Sliced Apple
• Raisins

 
Method
1. Pan fry a quality pork sausage in a small amount of extra virgin olive oil.
2. Use lightly sorted crisps, or a toasted whole meal pita (for a healthier option) for dipping in hummus and fresh chutneys.
3. Add sliced apples and a box of raisins for a kick of vitamins and sweetness.

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Four ways you can help

1. Parents can support a home environment that promotes healthy eating. There are lots of ways to help children enjoy healthy food:

  • Offer veggie sticks and a dip (such as hummus or a yoghurt and pesto dip) as a snack when children are hungry – it won’t ruin their appetite, and will up their veg intake.
  • Offer a variety of foods – even changing the pasta brand and / or shape regularly gets children used to the idea that not all food looks and tastes the same, and makes them more likely to try new foods.
  • Create a tasting chart to track children’s attempts to try new foods and their opinion of them.
  • Involve children in meal prep at home – I have often taught children new recipes with ingredients they told me they’d never eat, only to watch them happily wolf down their own creations.

2. Packing a healthy lunch needn’t be difficult, expensive, unappetising or an effort – follow the guidelines below to see your child’s lunchbox packs a nutritional punch.

  • Have one portion of fresh fruit (berries, grapes, apples, etc),
  • Three portions of vegetables (carrots, cucumber, broccoli, bell pepper, peas, asparagus, cherry tomatoes)
  • A healthy protein (beans, edamame, seeds, cheese, natural yoghurt, hummus, veggie burger, falafel, hardboiled egg)
  • A portion of complex carbohydrates (baked sweet potato, dried fruit, potato salad, whole grain pasta, bread, or crackers, brown rice, quinoa etc)

3. Have children pack their own lunch boxes the night before from a choice of healthy components. This puts them in control of their meal choices and takes the pressure off you.

4. Pack a water bottle (with fruit-infused water) for your child to refill during the day. Water restores fluids, aids digestion, regulates body temperature and carries nutrients and oxygen to cells. Do not be tempted to add empty calories, flavourings, and even caffeine to your child’s diet by giving them fruit juice, sports or fizzy drinks.

As parents, guardians, teachers and carers, it’s our responsibility to give young people healthier choices at home and in school. A recent study from Teeside University shows that teenagers in the UK eat less than three of the recommended five-a-day. This can be especially pronounced in teens from challenging backgrounds which is why it’s so essential for Compass Fostering to champion healthier eating for everyone. For more ideas, information and recipes, please visit http://www.foodfights.co.uk/


Making a House a Home This Christmas

We are looking for foster carers who can provide a loving place to live not only at Christmas, but all year round.

Since it’s “that time of year”, we decided to try and create a house of our own – using gingerbread. Here’s how…

Sadly, at this time of year there is an increase in the number of emergency placements made. Could you offer a caring and stable home for a child in need? Request your free info pack online today and learn how you can help.


Do you know the true picture of foster care in the UK?

The pressures of contemporary life see more and more children end up in care. But, as a society, we still seriously underestimate the numbers involved. In a recent survey carried out by Compass Fostering, people reckoned that around 27,000 children are in foster care. In fact, the actual number is nearer 55,000. And that’s growing every year.
Fostering benefits everyone

Putting foster families under pressure

This growing demand for foster care puts Britain’s foster families under increasing pressure. Although 90% of people realise the number of children in foster care is growing, they’re unaware of all the commitment involved. The survey found that almost half of active foster parents have given homes to more than five foster children, while 22% of foster parents have cared for more than 10 different youngsters.
why should you become a foster parent

What makes someone decide to foster?

With the need for more carers so clear, we also surveyed foster parents to see why they got involved in the first place. Nearly a third of foster parents said that their own life experiences encouraged them to provide care and support to children. But the primary motivation for carers is “to give children and young people a secure family environment.” And it’s good to know that’s the same motivation the general public ascribes to foster carers too.

Fostering benefits everyone

Foster carers also explained that they don’t just foster for altruistic reasons. More than 25% of foster carers have learned new life skills and their own birth children flourish too “It’s made my birth children more understanding and accepting of complex emotional needs”. Other carers feel their families have learnt the value of teamwork, increasing their empathy and becoming more appreciative of life – “It has certainly made our children realise how lucky they are”.
children needing foster care UK

Fostering works and fostering lasts

Fostering can help give children the secure environment they need to succeed in school and flourish in later life. Fostering matters in the moment and creates long-term bonds too. The survey revealed that 86% of foster parents are still in touch with the children they cared for.

It’s made my birth children more understanding and accepting of complex emotional needs.

Foster care awareness varies by region

People in different parts of the UK have diverse perceptions when it comes to fostering. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, for instance, people have a much more realistic appreciation of the number of children in foster care than they do in the South East of England. Although awareness may vary, there’s a consistent need for foster carers across the country, which is one of the reasons why Compass Fostering maintain a nationwide presence for foster care in the UK, with offices throughout England & Wales.

Why aren’t more people fostering?

Many people in our survey agreed they’d be open to fostering. But what’s stopping us? Foster families come in all shapes and sizes these days. Fostering is no longer restricted to conventional family models. And 20% of us say we know a close friend or family member who has been fostered. All you need to foster is a secure home environment to offer and the commitment to make a lasting difference in a child’s life. People who think they might not be accepted as foster parents could be in for a pleasant surprise…