Spare room

“Have you got a spare bedroom?”

“Have you got a spare bedroom?”

It was quite a few years ago, but I can still vividly remember the day I bumped into an old friend who is now a foster carer, who told me that just that morning she had received a call from her social worker. There was a baby who had been waiting in hospital for two weeks after being born, with nowhere to go home to. I had a young baby at home at the time. I had everything at home that a newborn might need. I thought, “I could give her a home.”

We got in touch with Home for Good almost right away, and one of the team here in Northern Ireland came to our house. She was inspiring and encouraging, she told us a bit of her own story, and she listened to all we had to say. But the first question she asked us was an important one: "Have you got a spare bedroom?"

We lived in three-bedroom house, but the third room was too small to even fit a single bed, and with a large age-gap between our two daughters, we didn’t feel it right to ask them to share. We learnt as well that our youngest daughter was probably still too young for us to foster at that point, and that it might be better to wait until she was a little older before we continued our journey.

So, wait we did. But the pull we felt to welcome and care for a child or young person who needed it just grew stronger. When our youngest began at nursery, we decided it was time to take our (big) first step; we knew that we wouldn’t be able to foster in the house we were in, so with a sharp intake of breath, the ‘For Sale’ sign went up.

We moved into our new home soon after – a home with a spare bedroom. We told our girls right from the beginning that this was the room we were praying a child might come and live in for a little while. Every time we had guests over to visit, the girls would give a tour of the new house and, with proud smiles, tell them, “and this is the room for a child who needs somewhere to stay.”

The first question we were asked when we made our initial phone call to enquire about fostering was the same as that first question from the Home for Good team. “Have you got a spare room?” Then again, when a social worker got in touch with us to begin our application, “Thanks so much for getting in touch, guys. I just want to check before we go any further; have you got a spare bedroom?”

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” John 14: 1-2 NIV

This verse in John’s gospel has taken on new meaning for me; that is, my attention has been drawn to the fact that Jesus isn’t just comforting his disciples as he tells them about his death. He’s also giving them a glimpse of what Heaven is like. He’s telling us about the roominess, the spaciousness, of the Father’s house. He’s telling us that there is a room for us there. And he’s telling us that there’s always room for more.

What if our homes here on earth reflected the home of our Father? Not all of us have that spare bedroom in our house that means an individual can stay, and many won’t be able to make the move to somewhere larger. But I really believe that we all have some room somewhere. I remember very early on in our fostering journey, some dear friends said to us that they knew they weren’t, and probably would never be, in a position to welcome a child or young person into their home. But they said that something they could do was pick up our teenage birth daughter from youth club once a week and take her for a hot chocolate on the way home so that they could check in, hang out with and invest in her. Where in your life might you have some spare room that you could use?

Our first foster child came to us during the summer holidays; a little boy who at two years old had already lived with four different families, and who had just been separated from his two siblings. We were told a lot of information about him before he arrived, one important detail being that he really loves dinosaurs. So, in those days leading up to his arrival, we turned our ‘spare’ bedroom into ‘his’ bedroom. Together with our youngest daughter we gathered dinosaur-themed bed linen, curtains and other decorations. She loved picking out special things to make him feel at home. She couldn’t wait to tell him on the day he arrived, “This is your bedroom, here!”

He stepped through the doorway and placed his little teddy on the bed. “This is my bedroom,” he repeated back to us.

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You are invited to join us on Saturday 7 May 2022 at the Home for Good Summit. The theme of the Summit this year is ‘Together’. The Summit is a one-day conference that brings together those who care for vulnerable children and those who want to find out more about how to play their part. With brilliant speakers, time for worship and prayer and a full kids' programme, it's a day not to be missed if you are passionate about seeing vulnerable children thrive.

Together we can make a difference, with and on behalf of care-experienced children and young people in the UK. Together we can find a home for every child who needs one.

There aren’t many things that demonstrate the complex beauty of ‘togetherness’ like the words of 1 Corinthians 12. We want to stand together as one body with many parts, taking the time to honour and uphold those who can sometimes be overlooked. We would love for you to join us either in person or online as we meet together at the Summit 2022. Click here to find out more.

Date published:
January 2021


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