Caring for vulnerable children is rarely easy. For both adoptive parents and foster carers, there will be challenging, overwhelming, exhausting, painful and difficult times. Of course we hope that there are also times filled with joy and fun, but the honest truth is that sometimes those occasions can be few and far between.
Which is why support really matters.
Just as this recent BBC report highlighted, we know that some families are in desperate need of professional, therapeutic, or structured support, and yet this is not always accessible. Wherever we can, we will advocate for more of this to be readily available to those who foster or adopt.
We are also aware that there is a real need for less formal, ongoing, peer support, as Home for Good’s Support Manager, Jo King, explains: “For so many families, simply having the opportunity to spend time with others who foster or adopt, who can really understand and empathise with their situation, can be a lifeline. Our heart is to do whatever we can to connect parents and carers to enable this kind of support.”
Through our network of champions, churches and local movements, we now have 24 support groups meeting across the UK. To find one near you, visit this page on our website and click on your area. If you are involved with a group and would like us to connect with us, or you are interested in developing a group in your area, please contact Jo to talk further.
Support groups take many forms. Home for Good in Bracknell host a monthly post-adoption play and stay drop-in and are seeing their numbers grow each month, and they have now introduced a sensory room after one family suggested that it would benefit their child. Our Local Movement in Leicester run a foster carer support group for local authority carers and have 45 people connected through their Facebook group. They organise a variety of popular activities for the whole family, and also host talks to help and encourage carers, such as offering financial advice.
In Liverpool, a mix of foster carers and adopters get together every six weeks or so to share with one another and offer advice and encouragement on all aspects of caring, and one group in Yorkshire alternates their monthly meetings between two locations to ensure they are as accessible as possible.
Our co-ordinator for Home for Good: Suffolk is Melissa, and she is passionate about support groups: “It’s so important that carers have a safe space where they can share with those who understand and experience similar difficulties to them. Being able to share ideas and ask each other for advice is priceless.” Read Melissa’s story and hear her advice for setting up and running support groups here.
We love that there are more than forty support groups up and running, and families across the UK have the opportunity to walk with one another on their fostering and adoption journey, but we hope you’ll agree that it’s not greedy to want more! Given what a positive and potentially even life-changing impact these groups can have, we are so keen to see more of them flourish and more families supported.
Could you be part of setting up a group in your area? If you want to explore this further, get in touch with Jo to chat it through. We would love to resource and encourage you on this journey.