Woman reveals what life is really like as a foster carer amid demand for people to open up their homes

Overwhelming pride and hard work. That’s how Alex Finnie describes life as a foster carer, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Understanding that it takes a village to raise a child, Alex says she gets so much support from a team of people who are all there to help and support her every step of the way.

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She said: “It’s not a case of you get handed a child and you’re on your own. You have support with anything and everything you need.

The pandemic, along with more children coming into care each month, means there is an urgent demand for foster carers for children and young people of all ages across the county.

There are more than 700 children and young people in care across Cumbria and while the council supports around 275 foster carers already, they are always looking for more potential foster carers to join ‘Cumbria’s biggest family’.

In Cumbria there is a particular demand for more carers for slightly older children and siblings who need permanent or long-term placements.

In 2009 Alex completely changed her direction in life and decided to become a foster carer.

She said: “It’s not easy, in the beginning it was frightening, I took in emergencies and after the first child I didn’t know if I could keep doing it.

“But the sense of pride and the joy you get from seeing how much difference you make in their lives makes it worth while.”

Alex lives in Barrow and now has two long term children in her care, the older has now moved on to a shared lives programme, which is for adults who need extra support.

She said: “Every child has a right to be loved and nurtured. I came into fostering as a change of job, as I used to work in mental health, and I can honestly say it is the best thing I’ve ever done.

“Long term fostering gives me the opportunity to work with the child who’s moved into my home and have a real impact on their life. And it gives the child a wonderful stability to know they won’t be moved on or have to go anywhere else.

“I asked my foster child what is good about long term foster care and she said ‘it’s great because I know I don’t have to move on in a couple of years or have to worry about moving. I know when I come in the front door, I’m home’. That’s basically what long term means; they’re home.

“The reward for me is that you get to know these young people and you lose your heart to them and they become part of your family. It is just a wonderful thing to do and I would recommend long term fostering over any other type of fostering.”

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Lancs Live – Cumbria