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Foster Care StoriesFoster Carer Stories

Hear from some of our existing foster carers to find out how fostering changed their lives, and how they have helped change the lives of local children for the better.

Our foster carers come from all different backgrounds and there is no ‘typical’ foster carer. What all of our carers have in common is a shared dedication to the support and welfare to children and young people, and the desire to help them achieve their goals.

Lesley and Grahams StoryJos StoryWayne and Cheryls Story

Gemma & Michael’s Story

Gemma & Michael’s Story
We have been fostering for 2 and half years now.

We are registered for short term fostering, children under the age of 4.

We are only on our second placement. Our first placement stayed with us for 18mth, and our second placement is looking to move to their forever family and has been with us 10mths now.

Before becoming a foster carer, I worked in a nursery as the Nursery Manager. I have always worked within childcare it was always my passion but after 17yrs and after having my own little family of 3 boys which are now 9yrs, 7yrs and 5yrs old, I needed something new. I have always been a part of lots of children’s wellbeing and education, but I wanted to give more and wanted to stop missing out on my own children’s achievements. It was another foster carer suggested for me to look into this role and I haven’t looked back, and this is where I am today.

I had so many people say “how are you going to do that job with 3 young children of your own?” it has been the best decision we have made and we feel that as a family we can give so much to each child that we open our home and family too, plus I get to be their for my own children and work around school hours for any meetings I need to attend. I love being part of my children’s lives again and I feel we have all benefited from my change in my job role of a 9-5 working to being flexible around them. Seeing all the children achieve all their different goals and how it helps them to grow into their personalities is a great feeling.

I love being part of the fostering community as I don’t get to miss out of time spent with my own children as well as knowing when we welcome other children into our home how much it is helping them to achieve their own goals by giving them everything that my own have. I have got to know so many different people through my journey so far and they are all amazing for help and support, you never feel alone.

I would say the best thing about fostering is seeing how much of an impact on other children me and my family have had, watching and helping other children to achieve. Also watching my children become part of such an amazing community opening their home up to share with each child and knowing it makes a difference as they smile to themselves knowing they have helped.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t foster, fostering can suit everyone, you need to believe in yourselves and know that a little means a lot to a child that needs it

Lesley and Graham

Lesley and GrahamParents-of-six Lesley and Graham enjoyed raising their own children so much that they became foster carers to give others the opportunity to have a stable and loving family life.

The couple, from Ashton, started looking into fostering as their older children grew up and left home and they even moved to a bigger house so they could accommodate as many children as possible.

They became approved foster carers for Tameside Council in 2013 and currently look after four children – three girls aged 10,13 and 14 in long term placements under special guardianship and a nine-year-old boy who has been with them for nearly a year.

Lesley, 58, said: “We had wanted to foster for years but there was never enough room while most of our children were still at home. In the end we decided to move to a bigger house – we just felt we had so much to offer in terms of being able to give children a stable and happy home. We have always had a houseful of children so fostering felt right for us.”

Fostering felt so right in fact that Graham, 62, even gave up his job as a college lecturer to foster full time.

He said: “Fostering is 24/7 but you are your own boss and can work from home and there is lots of flexibility – we can all enjoy weeks down at our caravan over the summer without anyone having to worry about going to work. More than anything, you get a lot of satisfaction from it - you see the rewards all the time. It is very special to see children who arrived with their own challenges growing up to be very lovely and settled young people.”

The couple told how they enjoy doing normal activities with the children – from playing football in the garden to going out for a Chinese meal. They also enjoy giving children experiences and opportunities they may not have otherwise had – such as going on holiday.

Fostering has gone so well for them that one of their own birth children has now become an approved foster carer for Tameside Council.

Lesley said: “Our children have always been very positive and accepting about us fostering, they treat our foster children as part of the family, buy them presents and invite them over. They have seen for themselves the difference it makes and we’re very proud of our daughter who has gone on to foster herself.

“Our 16–year-old daughter who still lives with us says it is challenging sharing your parents but she also says she wouldn’t have it any other way – she treats our foster children just like one of her siblings and they enjoy spending time together shopping, going to the cinema or going out for coffee.”

While the couple enjoy having three children in long term placements and giving them security and stability, they do keep one of their placements as short term and have looked after different children for emergency, respite and short term care.

Lesley said: “You do get attached and it is difficult when they move on but it is so rewarding to be part of their journey to a better life, whether it be with their parents, long term foster carers or adoption. You can really make a difference.”

Tameside Council is looking for people from all backgrounds to become foster carers for local children and provides full training, support and an allowance. For more information call 0161 342 2342


Jo's StoryJo

Our wonderful foster carer Jo talks about how she switched from her Civil Justice career in 2009 to fostering to make a difference to the lives of local children, and has never looked back.

She supports the council’s current foster carer recruitment drive and talks about how it could change your life too. We are looking to speak to potential foster carers from all backgrounds, to look after local children of all ages.

Jo, from Ashton, has been a Tameside foster carer since 2009, and throughout that time she has cared for 13 children in total. She started as a task-centred foster carer and now looks after a 10-year old girl who has been with her for the last 5 years.

“I first thought about fostering when I spoke to friends who fostered, and it was clear how rewarding it could be. I heard in the local news about many babies that were in need of foster carers and that really encouraged me to go for it.”

Jo started fostering babies before looking after younger children. After being a task-centred carer for a number of years, the time was right for child to stay long-term, and the little girl in placement was settled and the matching with Jo was very good.

“By chance, my niece and nephew have always been the same ages as the children I fostered. They would form strong bonds with the children before they would move on, never wanting them to leave. The time was right for a child to stay long-term so it has worked out really well.”

“I always say, it’s the whole family that foster, not just the carer. It’s so important that the child is made to feel like they are part of the family no matter how long they are with you for.”

Jo talks about preparing children to be adopted, and the transition of helping them move on to their new families. “Although it’s difficult when the child moves to their forever home, saying goodbye possibly forever, there is a huge sense of achievement knowing that you have helped the children through the difficulties and issues that the came to you with initially.”

“Seeing them meet their new families for the first time, you feel such a sense of achievement, it’s a very special time.”

“Being a single carer has never held me back, and my social worker was always very encouraging from the start. The one-to-one support really helps the children to develop and build strong relationships, so for many children this is a real benefit”.

“Fostering has changed my life in every possible way. I recently had a Zoom call with a boy I used to foster, who is grown up now and it’s amazing what he remembered. It’s the small day-to-day things that help to create memories, like giving them their first bubble bath. It’s important to remember that every day counts and all the little things make a real difference.”

To anyone considering fostering, Jo says “Go for it, I did and haven’t looked back. You can start off as a respite carer to find your feet before moving on to short-term and longer term placements when you know it’s right for you.”

Speaking about the support when becoming a foster, Jo talks about her social worker “we have a very good relationship, she has been my social worker for 8 years. The support from other foster carers is also great, there is a real support network available to you.”

Has Jo’s story inspired you to get in touch? We need carers from all backgrounds to look after children of all ages, including younger children, teenagers and sibling groups. Full training, support and an allowance is provided. For further information see Fostering ( or call 0161 342 2342.


Wayne and Cheryl's

Wayne Allington and Cheryl HartleyFormer teaching staff Wayne Allington and Cheryl Hartley have told how they switched their school careers to fostering to help make “more of a difference” to the lives of vulnerable children.


The couple, from Stalybridge, are foster carers for Tameside Council and currently look after two siblings – a three year-old girl and her nine-year-old brother – and a 13-year-old girl.


They are backing the council’s foster carer recruitment campaign – the fostering team want to hear from people from all backgrounds but those who already have experience of working with children are particularly encouraged to get in touch.


Wayne, 50, a former teacher and Cheryl, 51, who was teaching assistant, told how they were working together in the same primary school when they made their career change to fostering.


Cheryl said: “We saw increasingly more children presenting with issues and needs that there just wasn’t time in the curriculum to properly address. We did what we could - gave them breakfast when they hadn’t been fed and provided an education - but then we didn’t know what happened to them when they went home.


“We realised we could make more of a difference to children’s lives if we became foster carers – we could give them the time and take more of a  pastoral approach. We already knew we worked brilliantly together – we make a powerful team – and we just felt we could do something really positive for looked after children.”


Wayne said: “You don’t need a PHD to make a good foster carer, you just need to show the children interested, support and acceptance of who they are. It is wonderful to see them grow in confidence and realise what they are capable of with the right support.


“Routines and boundaries are paramount to help them feel safe and secure. Food is a massive for them – they get a lot of reassurance and stability from regular mealtimes. They go to bed without having to worry about when they are having their next meal and they get up feeling positive about their day.”


The couple have the full support of their own children. Cheryl has 13-year-old Harry, who lives with them, and 22-year-old Louie while Wayne has two daughters – Rose, 14, and Phoebie, 11 – who stay with them at weekend.


Cheryl said: “I’m a homebird and a nurturer and nothing pleases me more than seeing our children and foster children all together around the table, enjoying a family meal and lots of interaction.”


The couple say there are many golden moments of fostering, but one of the highlights is when the children express how happy and comfortable they feel.


Wayne said: “Just the other day the nine-year-old walked through the door and said ‘ahh home sweet home’ and it was lovely.”


Cheryl said: “I like seeing them become part of the family, watching them grow up and overcoming things. I know it is a cliché to say it is rewarding but it is, the job satisfaction is brilliant.”


Foster carers are needed for children of all ages including, teenagers, young people in further education and sibling groups. Full training, support and an allowance is provided. For further information see or call 0161 342 2342


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