David Trayner meets an inspirational foster carer who is making a difference to you people’s lives.
Foster carers are as much in demand as they have ever been, with the number of children in the carer system, nationally, at a 15-year high.
And for Lisa Hand the rewards of looking after children who would otherwise be in care far outweighs the costs.
Lisa, 47, from Southend, wanted to be a foster mum after going through the care system as a child herself.
Now she is caring for a 14-year-old girl with severe behavioural difficulties, alongside her own 18-year-old son, Devon.
She said: “It’s going really well. It’s hard going and challenging, but it gives rewards to both of us. It’s great to see the changes in her behaviour.”
But there is no escaping the all-encompassing nature of the task. “It’s a 24-hour commitment” says Lisa “But it’s very good. It’s a lot better than a 9 to 5 type job. There are a lot of benefits. You can really draw on your own life experiences. You don’t need any qualifications. If you’ve got a good heart, that’s your qualification”
The single mum gave up her job as a typesetter for advertisements in national newspapers and started working for I want to foster in 2010. The mothering instincts brought on by the birth of her son, awakened Lisa’s desire to foster, but Devon’s father was against the idea.
When they separated, Lisa saw the change and moved from London to Southend in Essex to pursue her dream, buying a house in which she could raise more children.
She started by working at residential homes for children with behavioural difficulties, run in Westcliff and Hadleigh, but felt constrained by the rules and regulations.
Wanting to break free and to be able to trust her instincts as a mother, she applied to Mosaic foster care via I want to foster.com
“The necessarily long application process, in which the agency checks an applicant’s criminal record, takes personal and professional references and examines every part of their history over a period of months, can put some people off. Not Lisa – she actively enjoyed it.
She said: “You go back along memory lane. You go back through your past life and it’s full of discovery. You learn things about yourself you don’t think would upset you or make you laugh, but they do.”
A social worker was on hand to help her through the process and after looking after another girl for a couple of months on a short term fostering placement, Lisa took on her current teen.
As well as Devon’s support, she can call on her sister and several friends who foster. Lisa can also draw on her own experience as a self-confessed “Wayward teenager”
She said: “I was a ladette before ladettes came out. I was unmanageable. There was no foster carer to look after her so she grew up in children’s homes, but she enjoyed the experience and is now using it to help others.
She said: “I know what it’s like top be at both sides of the table. I can feel a lot of empathy.”
With more than 50,000 children at any time now needing foster care nationally, Mosaic Foster Care and I-want-to-foster.com are now moving to new premises to cope with demand.
Our new offices have improved therapy rooms, office space and meeting areas, offering better facilities to staff, foster carers and foster children.
Director Andre Palmer said “The improved environment will benefit everyone in the company and enable us to continue to expand the fostering services we provide here in Essex, Suffolk and London (as well as parts of Kent).
Lisa said: “I’d say it’s life-changing.”
For more information about a career in foster care call us today on 0800 1216401.