Carol and Bob

from Birmin

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Carole and Bob, from Birmingham are foster carers with Pathway Care. Carole, 69, and Bob, 73, will celebrate their 30th anniversary as foster carers in 2015 and have given a home to over 100 foster children over the years. This is their foster care story.

Carole said: “We started in foster care 30 years ago, long before Pathway Care was set up. We have three children of our own, two boys and a girl, who were teenagers at the time and Bob knew someone at the time who was a foster carer. We always wanted to have another child and in those days you just fostered one – so very different to being able to take on sibling groups nowadays which we’ve also done. We had a spare room and are a secure happy family – really we just wanted to help children who don’t have that and being placed with a secure, safe family is the best possible road for children who need help.

“Bob and I both love kids and have now given over 100 a home – some short term, some for a few years. We also provide emergency respite care for those in desperate need.

“To be a foster carer you have to have a sense of humour and be able to turn the other cheek – it is challenging as you are looking after children who have had no structure or routine, some have been in neglect situations and have never done things we’d take for granted, such as sitting at a table to eat a meal or having their own beds to sleep in. It’s hard work and it takes some doing – it can sometimes be two steps forward and one back – but it is so rewarding. You install confidence and self-esteem in children, put boundaries in place and when you see the change in children and that you can help to make a difference to their lives and help them be happy – that’s what makes it worth it.

“Being a foster caring family is also hugely beneficial to your own children. Our three are now in their 40s and are such wonderful parents themselves. They can remember kids coming to our house and it was incredibly humbling for them to see that not everyone is lucky enough to have parents who care for them and love them. Being part of a foster family helps you see the world in a very different way and these children are not to blame for anything which has happened to them in the past.

“Lots of our foster children have now become part of our extended family – I get Mother’s Day cards and we are now foster great grandparents after one of the first girls we ever fostered recently become a grandmother herself – she came to us years ago, at age 14 when she was pregnant herself, having been in a number of care homes, with nothing but a black bag of belongings. Nearly 30 years later, she is still part of our family – like a second daughter to us.

“We have been foster carers with Pathway Care for ten years and were in its first group of foster carers. The support has been fantastic and we have a strong network around us – it’s there 24/7 and there is always someone for us to talk to. I would encourage anyone thinking about making a change in 2015 become a foster carer – you can make such a worthwhile difference to a child’s life.”

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