The impact of Progress’ support groups for foster carers

Are you considering becoming a foster carer? At Progress, we understand the journey can be both rewarding and challenging. Amanda, one of our dedicated foster carers, shares how the support groups at Progress have been invaluable to her and can be for you too. 

“I’ve really enjoyed coming along to the support groups,” Amanda begins. “I find it really insightful. Sometimes people explain the challenges they’re having, and even though you might not be living that challenge, hearing the tools to overcome them absolutely could benefit me. You never know when you might come across that yourself.” 

Amanda highlights the importance of community and support in fostering. “It’s really important to come along and support others. As a foster carer now, I’ve got hints and tips that I can share with people with less experience. Meeting people face to face is brilliant. If you need anything, it’s great to come into the offices and speak to someone. Everyone’s so welcoming and supportive. There’s always somebody to speak to.” 

The sense of camaraderie and shared experience is something Amanda deeply values. “It’s great to hear from other foster carers, to share ideas and challenges, and get other people’s perspectives on overcoming obstacles. Fundamentally, you’re not alone. Everyone is having their own challenges and successes. Sharing success is a massive reason to come to the support groups—to celebrate success with everybody else at Progress.” 

Amanda’s experience shows that with the right support, fostering can be a fulfilling and enriching experience. If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer and want to learn more about the benefits of our support groups, visit progresscare.co.uk/fostering or call 01902 561066. Join us and become part of a community that values support, learning, and shared success. 

Amanda’s Inspiring Journey into Fostering with Progress

“It’s like when you have your first child yourself. You don’t know what you’re doing, but you’ve read it in a book. With fostering, you do know what you’re doing but again, you’ve read it in a book and putting it into practice is different.” 

Fostering is more than just a vocation; it’s a heartfelt commitment to making a difference in the lives of children and young people. Amanda, one of Progress’s dedicated foster carers, recently shared her journey into fostering, shedding light on the profound impact it has had on her life and the exceptional support she has received from Progress. 

Amanda’s interest in fostering was ignited by a Facebook advertisement specifically highlighting parent and child foster care. “Fostering is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember,” Amanda reminisces. Although she initially explored fostering several years ago, the demands of raising three young children led her to put her plans on hold. When she saw the recent advertisement, she felt it was the perfect time to revisit her fostering aspirations. 

Upon reaching out to Progress, Amanda was immediately impressed by their responsiveness and support. “They offered me loads of information, answered all of my questions, and supported me completely through the application process,” she says. Progress addressed her concerns about balancing work, home life, and the specific requirements for fostering, ensuring she felt confident in her decision. 

The journey through the application process was smoother than Amanda anticipated. “I’ve heard a lot of stories about how long it might take and some of the apprehensions I might have, but that didn’t play out. The journey was great,” Amanda shares. With the support of Progress’ Fostering Service team members, Amanda found the process manageable and even fulfilling. 

Training was a crucial part of Amanda’s preparation. “We had lots of training, lots of online learning, but it was never too much, and it was at our pace,” she recalls. Progress ensured that Amanda and her family were well-prepared, offering flexibility and continuous support throughout the training period. 

The support didn’t end there. Amanda speaks highly of the extensive network and community foster carers have at Progress. “I never felt that I was alone, which was really important,” she emphasizes. This sense of community is reinforced by regular support group meetings where foster carers can share experiences, challenges, and successes. “It’s great to hear from other foster carers, get ideas on how to overcome obstacles, and share and celebrate successes,” Amanda explains. 

Amanda’s first young person came six weeks after approval, a learning experience that was both challenging and rewarding. “It’s like when you have your first child yourself. You don’t know what you’re doing, but you’ve read it in a book. With fostering, you do know what you’re doing but again, you’ve read it in a book and putting it into practice is different,” Amanda reflects. The continuous support from Progress and other foster carers helped her navigate this journey. 

Currently, Amanda is on another, a parent and child, and is finding it completely different but equally rewarding. “I’ve learned loads again on this journey and look forward to seeing where it brings me in the rest of my fostering journey,” she says enthusiastically. 

Amanda’s story is a testament to the support and community foster carers receive at Progress. “Fundamentally, you’re not alone. Everyone is having their own challenges and successes, and it’s important to share those and support each other,” Amanda concludes. 

If you’re passionate about making a difference in the lives of children and young people, and you’re looking for a supportive community to join, consider starting your fostering journey with Progress. Visit progresscare.co.uk/fostering to learn more and apply today. 

Finding fulfilment in fostering: Pervina and Manoj

Pervina and Manoj are a vibrant couple whose hearts are filled with the hope of providing a loving home to a child in need. Pervina first harboured the desire to foster, and one day, while scrolling through Facebook, she stumbled upon an advertisement that sparked the idea into reality. 

“It started off as mine,” Pervina shared, “and then Manoj tagged along with it.” 

Their journey into fostering was not without its questions and uncertainties. Pervina reflected, “I’ve always wanted to be a foster carer, but I didn’t quite know what you had to do to become one.” 

Manoj explained that after seeing the advertisement, they discussed it, feeling compelled to share their love and nurture a child who needed their support. 

The couple embarked on the process of becoming foster carers, which Pervina described as “lengthy but needed.” They navigated interviews, background checks, and panels with remarkable dedication and honesty. 

“We just answered everything, whatever they asked,” Manoj explained. “We were just ourselves.” 

Their commitment was met with swift results. Within a few weeks, they were approved and eagerly prepared their home for their first child. Pervina recalled the preparations, making their house safe and welcoming, ensuring it was ready for the child who would soon fill it with laughter and love. 

Their first child arrived promptly, and the couple embraced their new roles with open hearts. Despite the initial challenges, they felt supported by their social workers and Progress. 

“The support there was amazing,” Pervina recalled. “Honestly, fostering has changed our lives.” 

As they adjusted to their new family dynamics, Pervina and Manoj found joy in the chaos of their bustling household. 

“At first, it was just me and Manoj,” Pervina laughed. “Now, the house is messier… but it feels like a family.” 

Their fostering journey was not without its unique challenges. The young person they cared for had specific needs due to a brain injury. Still, Pervina and Manoj found creative ways to communicate and connect, ensuring the child felt at home. 

Looking ahead, Pervina and Manoj shared their aspirations. They hope to support their young person through school and beyond, empowering her to pursue her dreams despite the challenges she faced. 

“My expectations are to help encourage her to get the right apprenticeship, the right college,” Pervina shared, “to make that kind of dream possible and see what our options are.” 

Manoj added, “We’re always there for her… always.” 

In their cosy home, filled with love and laughter, Pervina and Manoj have found fulfilment in fostering. Their hearts expanded as they witnessed the transformation of their house into a home—a place where a child found solace, support, and the promise of a brighter future. 

As they shared their story, Pervina and Manoj’s words echoed with warmth and sincerity, a testament to the profound impact of fostering on their lives and the lives of the children they welcomed into their hearts. 

To learn more about fostering with Progress Fostering Service and how you can become a foster carer, please visit progresscare.co.uk/fostering or contact us directly at 01902 561066. 

Second Chances: A Journey Through Foster Care

This heartfelt poem was written by an 11-year-old under the care of Progress Fostering Service. This young poet beautifully captures their journey and the transformative power of foster care.

My life was no fun

My fears would make me run.

Until out of the blue

I met you.

 

I became a foster child not once but twice

When I hurt myself you gave me ice.

You helped me learn

Everything I get I earn.

 

I am a little bit sad

Sometimes I get a little bit mad.

Me and my brothers would hit and hit

Until one day we got split.

 

We see each other often

We all need a correction.

I’ve learnt a lot of things

And my foster carer says

Teamwork makes the dream work.

 

I do much better now in foster care

I smile most days

I hope you can do a favour

And help people to become more able

And children who have lost hope

And start believing

Bring them in and give them a second chance in life.

 

As we celebrate Foster Care Fortnight, we invite individuals and families in the Midlands who are interested in fostering to join us. Together, we can make a profound difference in the lives of children and young people in need of stability and care.

To learn more about fostering with Progress Fostering Service and how you can become a foster carer, please visit progresscare.co.uk/fostering or contact us directly at 01902 561066.

Celebrating Foster Care Fortnight 2024: Recognising Our Exceptional Foster Carers

As Foster Care Fortnight 2024 officially kicks off today, Progress Fostering Service, an outstanding division of Progress Children’s Services, takes immense pride in celebrating the dedication and impact of our remarkable foster carers. This significant event, running from May 13th to May 26th, is a testament to the profound role foster carers play in transforming the lives of vulnerable children and young people across and beyond the Midlands. 

At Progress Fostering Service, fostering isn’t just a service; it’s our passion and commitment to providing safe, nurturing homes where children can thrive. We are honoured to recognise the outstanding contributions of our foster carers who embody compassion, resilience, and unwavering support for the children in their care. 

Phil O’Brien, Registered Manager of the Fostering Service at Progress Children’s Services, emphasised the significance of Foster Care Fortnight: “This fortnight is a special occasion to shine a light on the incredible work of our foster carers. They truly are unsung heroes, offering stability and love to children who need it the most.” 

Tina Bhardwaj, Head of Children’s Services at Progress, added, “Foster Care Fortnight allows us to showcase the critical importance of fostering and the positive impact it has on vulnerable young people. Our foster carers exemplify the values we hold dearly at Progress: care, trust, respect and progress, and the belief that every child deserves a nurturing home.” 

Bal Dhanoa, CEO of Progress, echoed these sentiments, stating, “We are immensely proud of our Ofsted-rated outstanding fostering service. This recognition reflects our unwavering commitment to providing the highest standards of care and support to both our foster carers and the children entrusted to us.” 

As we celebrate Foster Care Fortnight, we invite individuals and families in the Midlands who are interested in fostering to join us. Together, we can make a profound difference in the lives of children and young people in need of stability and care.

To learn more about fostering with Progress Fostering Service and how you can become a foster carer, please visit progresscare.co.uk/fostering or contact us directly at 01902 561066.

Let us continue to champion the extraordinary efforts of our foster carers and advocate for the transformative power of fostering in our communities.

World Autism Awareness Day: Progress’ autism-aware approach

Tuesday 2 April 2024 is World Autism Awareness Day

The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism so they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society.

Autism is a lifelong neurological condition that manifests during early childhood, irrespective of gender, race or socio-economic status. The term Autism Spectrum refers to a range of characteristics. Appropriate support, accommodation and acceptance of this neurological variation allow those on the Spectrum to enjoy equal opportunity, and full and effective participation in society.

Autism is mainly characterised by its unique social interactions, non-standard ways of learning, keen interests in specific subjects, inclination to routines, challenges in typical communications and particular ways of processing sensory information.

The rate of autism in all regions of the world is high and the lack of understanding has a tremendous impact on the individuals, their families and communities.

The stigmatisation and discrimination associated with neurological differences remain substantial obstacles to diagnosis and therapies, an issue that must be addressed by both public policymakers in developing nations, as well as donor countries.

700,000

There are 700,000 autistic people in the UK – that’s more than 1 in 100. If you include their families, autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people.

30%

Just 30% of autistic adults in the UK are in any form of paid employment. This is amongst the lowest rates of employment for people with additional needs or disabilities.

3x

Autism is 3 times more prevalent in boys than girls. Signs of autism in girls can present themselves differently and as a result can be misdiagnosed or missed leading to more boys getting a diagnosis.

Progress’ autism-aware approach to interior design

“Colours can have a profound impact, especially for children with autism. We strive to create adaptable spaces where colours can be changed to suit individual preferences, ensuring the environment remains stimulating and comforting.” 

At the core of Progress’ approach to interior design is the concept of sensory design. We utilise principles such as space, colour, texture, form, and light to create spaces that meet the unique sensory requirements of the children they care for. These principles are not just about aesthetics; they are fundamental in addressing the sensory needs of the children.

Preet Anand, founder of Mood Interiors, has been instrumental in redefining the role of interior design at Progress’ homes. Preet and her team approach each Progress project by understanding the specific needs of the children. She described it as a comprehensive process that takes into account the individual requirements of each child.

In sensory design, colour plays a pivotal role. Preet says, “Colours can have a profound impact, especially for children with autism. We strive to create adaptable spaces where colours can be changed to suit individual preferences, ensuring the environment remains stimulating and comforting.”

How the darkness of COVID-19 led Jackie to the brightness of fostering

Meet Jackie, one of the incredible foster carers at Progress, a place where she’s not just a foster carer but an integral part of an outstanding service that is supporting children and families across and beyond the Midlands. She’s all about making positive changes in kids’ lives, and she’s been doing it for over four years now. 

Just like several other foster carers, Jackie’s journey into fostering wasn’t planned out. It all started during the chaos of the COVID-19 lockdown. She’d always wanted to foster, but life kept getting in the way. “I’ve always wanted to foster, but circumstances never aligned until the lockdown,” Jackie reflects. When she and her husband had to stay home because of his health, fostering suddenly seemed like the right path. And it turned out, her husband had always wanted to foster too, so it felt like fate. 

Since then, Jackie’s been part of Progress. Just like several other foster carers with Progress, Jackie stumbled upon Progress online, and it’s been a perfect fit ever since. She talks about how everyone at Progress is always ready to help out, making it feel like a supportive community.  

“Everybody is always keen to help. You know nothing is a problem and if you have got a problem, they are all sorted out for you. There is always somebody there to help you out and so you’re not left on your own,” Jackie emphasises. 

What Jackie loves most about fostering? Well, everything! Whether it’s opening her home to children in need of emergency placement, helping families in need of a break, or committing to long-term care, Jackie is all in. To her, fostering isn’t just a job; it’s her calling. She says she gets so much joy from knowing she’s making a difference in the lives of children. 

“I just love it all. Whether it’s emergency placements, respite care, or long-term fostering, I embrace each opportunity with open arms and a nurturing heart.” 

And Jackie’s not planning on slowing down anytime soon. Even at 63, retirement isn’t on her mind. She is determined to keep supporting kids for as long as she can. “I get great pleasure out of doing what I do,” she affirms. 

Jackie’s story is inspiring. Her dedication to fostering with Progress shows just how much one person can do to help children when there is abundant support and guidance. Jackie and her partner are proving that a little love and care can make a huge difference in someone’s life. 

Do you connect with Jackie’s story or is your journey to considering fostering different from Jackie’s? Talk to us today and we will gladly support you to bring your fostering dreams to reality.

If you are considering fostering, please get in touch with Progress via enquiry.fostering@progresscare.co.uk to find out more. 

Celebrating Achievements: A Glance at Progress Fostering Service Awards Event

In a heartwarming celebration of dedication and compassion, Progress Fostering Service which includes the fostering team, foster carers and other stakeholders, recently gathered to commemorate the service’s remarkable achievements of 2023. Held with joyous spirits, the event not only highlighted the milestones but also served as a testament to the profound impact of fostering with Progress.

Among the highlights of the evening were the presentations of certificates of achievement, celebrating years of unwavering commitment and tireless support and services provided by the foster carers. It was a momentous occasion as those who had dedicated years to fostering with Progress were honoured for their remarkable contributions.

As the ceremony unfolded, the room buzzed with an atmosphere of appreciation and gratitude. The heartfelt speeches echoed the sentiments of the entire Progress Fostering Service community, acknowledging the invaluable role played by each foster carer in transforming the lives of children and young people.

Captured within the frames of the photographs are moments brimming with pride and camaraderie. Smiles adorned the faces of foster carers as they celebrated those that received their well-deserved accolades, their eyes gleaming with a sense of fulfillment that comes from knowing they are making a difference.

The event was a tapestry of emotions – from jubilation to quiet reflection, from shared laughter to silent tears of joy. The event was a celebration of foster carers’ stories of resilience, compassion, and unwavering dedication, weaving together the threads of countless lives touched and transformed through the power of fostering.

Looking back on these cherished memories reminded attendees of the profound impact of fostering – not just on the lives of the children and young people entrusted to the care of Progress Fostering Service, but also on the lives of people involved, especially the individual foster carers. Foster carers in attendance summarily described fostering as a journey that delivers the best rewards for everyone involved when it is defined and guided by love.

Indeed, the event was more than just a celebration of achievements; it was a celebration of the human spirit, of the profound capacity for compassion and kindness that resides within Progress’ foster carers. It reinforced the spirit of camaraderie and dedication that defines fostering, knowing that every milestone reached by a child is a testament to the transformative power of love and care.

Progress is Proud to Support Employees to Become Foster Carers

Progress Children’s Services Ltd and Progress Adult Living Services Ltd, collectively known as Progress, are happy to announce we are part of the Fostering Network’s ‘Fostering Friendly Employers’ programme and as such, we have implemented a fostering friendly policy for employees who foster or applying to do so. Through this policy, Progress offers up to five additional days of paid leave, to enable staff to complete their fostering commitments, training and other critical activities in the role or in the application and approval process.

Angeline Freer, Head of Corporate and Commercial Services at Progress explains “In addition to always looking for more ways to support our workforce, I felt it was important as a fostering agency to support this initiative and our employees to foster, given the critical need for more families for children who need them, which is ultimately why we exist”.

The Fostering Network, a membership body, is the UK’s leading fostering charity. Their Executive Chair, Mervyn Erskine says ‘becoming a fostering friendly employer is something to be really proud of. Foster carers are the bedrock of children’s social care, for the difference they make to the lives of children. It is important that this vital role is not only recognised, but also encouraged by employers.  

Angeline added, “By supporting our employees to foster, be that through us or another agency, we can help to address the thousands of extra fostering households needed in the UK, for the children who need them most”. 

The fostering community is open to people from all walks of life, no matter your age, gender, relationship status or sexual orientation. If you are considering fostering, please get in touch with Progress via enquiry.fostering@progresscare.co.uk to find out more. 

A Year of Dedication and Care: Fostering Service Reflects

The staff team and foster carers have again gone above and beyond to make sure we are providing the right opportunities and outcomes for our young people.

The yuletide season is here and Phil, the Registered Manager of the Fostering Service at Progress Children’s Services, extends his heartfelt congratulations to the entire team for their unwavering dedication and hard work throughout 2023. In a goodwill message, Phil expresses gratitude to those who have played a pivotal role in providing exceptional care to the children under their charge.

“I would like to congratulate everyone involved with the fostering service throughout this year for the hard work, commitment and dedication they have shown in providing outstanding care to the children we look after,” says Phil, acknowledging the collective effort that has defined the service’s success over the past year.

Fostering Service at Progress Children’s Services has thrived on the commitment and dedication exhibited by both the staff team and foster carers. “The staff team and foster carers have again gone above and beyond to make sure we are providing the right opportunities and outcomes for our young people,” notes Phil, emphasising the tireless efforts put forth to ensure the well-being and positive development of the children in their care.

Going beyond the call of duty, the team has tirelessly worked to ensure that the children receive the best possible care and opportunities. “Throughout this period, we have had brilliant support groups for both carers and children and looked to deliver training that is engaging and worthwhile,” Phil states, highlighting the comprehensive support system in place to foster collaboration and understanding among carers and children.

Throughout the year, Progress Fostering Service has not only met but exceeded expectations by delivering engaging and worthwhile training. “We have provided events like the youth club, Summer Event Day, and pantomime that have given us incredible feedback,” Phil shares, underlining the service’s commitment to not only meeting the basic needs of the children but also creating enriching experiences that contribute to their overall development.

As we approach the New Year, Phil extends warm wishes to all those involved, expressing gratitude to every single person who has made a positive impact on a child’s life in 2023. “We hope you enjoy the holiday period and thanks to every single person who has had a positive impact on any child in 2023, and we hope you have a happy new year,” he says, encapsulating the service’s appreciation for the collective effort that has made a difference in the lives of the children.

The message from Phil encapsulates a year marked by compassion, resilience, and a shared commitment to the well-being of the children in the care of Progress Fostering Service. As we bid farewell to 2023, we join in celebrating the achievements and successes of the fostering service, while looking ahead to a future filled with even greater accomplishments and contributions to the community.