A former military man who is now making a difference to the lives of vulnerable young people as a foster carer has backed a campaign which is looking to recruit more people to this vital role.
Ian Shackleton, 52, from Hemswell Cliff, has made a plea for more people to meet a shortfall of 750 carers in the Yorkshire and Humberside region during Foster Care Fortnight, which runs from 12th to 25th May.
Former RAF engineer Ian and his wife Hayley, 49, have been carers with the UK’s leading independent fostering agency Foster Care Associates (FCA) for more than four years.
Ian, who spent 33 years in the RAF, explained what inspired him and his wife to foster and spoke about how it has transformed both their lives and the lives of the young people in their care.
He said: “My wife retired as an accountant and wanted to do something completely different.”
“I was unsure about fostering at the beginning but agreed to do respite foster care first to see how we took to it.”
“I absolutely loved it and we looked after some super kids. The training we received from FCA also really prepared us for the task.
“We then had an emergency placement, which was originally supposed to be for two weeks, but we have now had them for three years and they are long term placements now.
“Despite my initial apprehension it has been a challenging but rewarding experience. Seeing the change in them both in that time has been amazing and so fulfilling.”
“The children have gone from strength to strength. They are safe, healthy and happy which is the greatest bonus we could have.”
One of the aims of this year’s Foster Care Fortnight is to dispel myths about who can foster and show that people from a wide variety of backgrounds can bring many different skills and qualities to the role.
Ian said: “The first thing a foster carer needs is patience and understanding.”
“You need the ability to understand children’s emotions and their difficulties as they may not be able to express them straight away.”
“Our skill as foster carers is allowing them time to unravel that stuff and provide a caring and loving home for their future development.”
“I am also a carer representative for my region and the fact that there is a community within FCA where there are carer forums and holidays that bring the FCA family together is wonderful and makes it a special organisation.”
If you are interested in fostering contact FCA on 0800 023 4561, visit www.thefca.co.uk or like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thefcayorksandlincs.