Reports of children across Kent lacking a foster home prompted Richard and his wife Sharon to seriously consider fostering around three years ago. At the time they decided their two children were not quite ready for such a drastic change to the family home.
Now with their son at university and their daughter at secondary school, the couple felt ready to take the step and welcomed in a young boy just starting primary school into their home.
Richard, a former teaching assistant at an SEN school, gave up his job so he could give their foster child all the attention he needs. "I wanted to make sure that I could take him to school, pick him up from school and there are no distractions at all for me to look after him." says Richard, 51. His wife Sharon continues to work full-time as a Methodist minister.
Richard and Sharon say their foster child is already 'part of the family' and having a younger child back in the house "was like turning back the clocks".
"It was exactly like when our children were at that age. They wanted to play and you wanted to play as well and it was about getting to know their personality, their likes and dislikes." says Richard.
But the nature of taking on a foster child also meant the couple had to be sensitive about where he came from and what experiences he had already had in his life. Richard said: "Foster children are put into care for a reason so some of theiproblems can come out after a few days. We'd been given a lot of background on our foster child so we knew how to tackle a few of these things. With the advice of the former foster carers and also the social workers we were able to help with any problems that arose."
The foster child has been with the Lovelocks for eight months now, Richard can't ever see him not being in the family unit. "He is part of the family now, I can't see an end date. I can see him growing up and moving on like our own children. We are just enjoying the time that he's with us and it's all plain sailing at the moment." says Richard.
The couple actively encourage other families to consider fostering, and advise people to think carefully about whether it is right for them. "It really is quite amazing when you get a placement and you start learning their likes and dislikes. It's a new member of the family and you really feel like you're doing the right thing."
Richard and Sharon fostered through Diagrama Fostering. It comes as the charity warns of an increase in children across the south east waiting for foster care places to become available.
David McGuire, chief executive of the Diagrama Foundation, the charity which runs Diagrama Fostering, said: "This year has been difficult for many people, in different ways. For some, they have found themselves reassessing their priorities in life and for others their careers have taken an unexpected turn. Fostering is often overlooked as a career choice – yet the rewards and job satisfaction cannot be underestimated.”
"Most of our foster carers currently have children in long-term placements and they are able to offer the children the stability and security they desperately need to thrive."
Like Richard and Sharon, all Diagrama foster carers receive extensive ongoing training and support, offering people the chance to acquire valuable skills for life.
Watch Richard talk about his fostering experience here.
Interested in finding out more about fostering? We have recently launched monthly online fostering information events, register for an event via Eventbrite. Or call our team today on 0800 802 1910 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.