Gainsborough: Policewoman was an inspiration at the first ever fostering conference

Emma Devlin and Janet Roberts
Emma Devlin and Janet Roberts

A Gainsborough policewoman was among the inspirational speakers to take to the stage at the town’s first ever conference to celebrate foster care.

Emma Devlin told a captivated audience about her time growing up in care and how at an early age decided she wasn’t going to let her upbringing stop her reaching for the stars.

The police constable in the Lincolnshire force was invited to the event, organised by Doncaster Children’s Services Trust alongside six other fostering agencies in the borough, to share her experience from a child’s perspective of being in foster care.

Emma’s emotional yet inspirational account of her childhood had the audience wiping tears from their eyes at times yet cheering with pride as she revealed how she hadn’t let her bad start in life hold her back and proved that young people can turn their lives around despite a difficult start out of their control.

The married mother of two described the first time she was placed into foster care at 12-years-old and how meeting her foster parents Stuart and Janet Roberts really did change her life and open her eyes to the big wide world of opportunity.

Emma said: “My single mother suffered from bipolar disorder among a cocktail of other mental health conditions which meant that she couldn’t look after me or my siblings adequately, so children’s services intervened.”

“We were all separated, and until very recently hadn’t been in touch, we all now understand that it was the best thing for us.”

“My childhood was a scary one, a violent one and because of that, one I will not cherish like most young people - but I didn’t let that stop me.”

“I went on to get seven GCSEs, AS and A levels and a 2:1 degree at Leeds University which led to my career in the police and gave me the confidence to now embark on an exciting business venture specialising in soft play equipment for young children.”

Emma, who has two sons aged eight and 15 months, went on to say that she wants her children to have what she never had with her birth mother and to provide a better life for them.

Emma said: “I have two young boys and want them to go on to be the best possible parents and human beings they can be, they already make me ever so proud.”

More than 200 foster carers attended the conference at The Holiday Inn Doncaster and due to its success, talks are already planned to start looking at the next.

The full findings of the survey funded by the Department for Education will be announced in May.