Foster carer turned social worker urges Oldhamers to consider fostering
Date published: 06 May 2020
Wayne Brown has shared some of his experiences
A foster carer who was just 21 when he began providing a safe home for children and young people in need is calling for people across Oldham to consider a career in fostering.
As part of Foster Care Fortnight, which runs from Monday 11th - Sunday, May 24th, Wayne Brown has shared his experience in the hope it will inspire others to think about a career in fostering or in care.
A report shared earlier in the year showed that there are a record 78,150 children in care, and in the North West of England another 1,190 foster carers are currently needed to meet demand and help provide a safe home.
Wayne, aged 47, now the Fostering Service Manager for Safehouses Fostering – an independent fostering provider which is based in Oldham and operates across greater Manchester and West Yorkshire - started fostering in his early twenties and looked after 30 children on a respite care basis, offering their regular carers a break or during times when a child or young person needed to be looked after in an emergency.
Wayne’s decision to foster was motivated by his mother, Julie Brown’s, inspiring legacy.
She began fostering when Wayne was 17 and looked after more than 60 children, predominantly caring for children with disabilities or those from disadvantaged families.
Having had foster brothers and sisters since he was 17, at 21, Wayne moved out of his family home and into his own place.
To support his mum, Wayne applied to become a part-time respite and short-term carer with the same agency as his mum so he could help both her and other carers when they needed a break.
Wayne said: “From when I was a teenager, I can remember the house being really lively and busy with so many of us under one roof.
"There were many times when my mum needed help running the children to swimming lessons or football training alongside taking my then eight-year-old and 11-year-old siblings to school.
"I wanted to do everything I could to help her because she cared so deeply for the children and youngsters living with us.
"Seeing the impact that she had on their lives and the way they changed hers, brought me so much joy.
"It was something I’ll never forget being part of.”
Years later, Wayne is still in touch with many of the children and young people he cared for and is still in touch with three foster sisters his mum cared for on a long-term basis.
Wayne’s mum eventually stopped fostering and started her own holistic therapies business in 2014, but Wayne hopes to keep his mother’s legacy alive by fostering again in the future.
Discussing Wayne’s story and Foster Care Fortnight 2020, Colette Abbiss from Five Rivers Child Care – the parent company of Safehouses Fostering – said: “Funnily enough, I was Wayne and Julie’s social worker many years ago, so I have seen how far both have come in their own individual journeys in the world of fostering.
"Wayne’s story is an amazing example of how fostering is not just a rewarding career option but an opportunity to change the lives of many children and young people.
"His decision to pursue a career in fostering to help his mother and her friends as a respite carer at such a young age to then become a social worker and now service manager, demonstrates his dedication to these children and young people.
“The Coronavirus pandemic hasn’t stopped us recruiting foster carers, as the need for children and young people to have stable and caring foster carers has not diminished, and in some areas we have seen the need increase.
"We’ve also found that the lockdown period has given people the opportunity for reflection and time to think about future career paths, and becoming a foster carer is one option that more people are now considering.”
People from all walks of life can be eligible to become a foster carer, but they must be over the age of 21 and have a private and furnished bedroom for each child, with some exceptions for siblings.
Single people, co-habiting couples, same sex couples and people living in rented accommodation can also become foster carers.
A career in foster care offers flexible working and competitive rates of pay.
For more information on Safehouses Fostering, visit: https://safehousesfostering.org.uk/, call the enquiries team on 01457 829 111 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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