FosterWiki Opinion Piece

Would you foster all over again? “In a heartbeat”

A FosterWiki interview with foster carers Carolyn and Derek Moody MBE

Carolyn Moody MBE is our FosterWiki Ambassador

When we peel back the layers of fostering there are many unique and inspiring stories, none more so than these two remarkable individuals, FosterWiki Ambassador Carolyn Moody MBE and her husband Derek.

I was delighted to speak to them about their lives and aims for the future, hoping this inspires others to pick up the fostering mantle.

For over two decades Carolyn and Derek have devoted their lives to fostering, providing children in care with a wonderful caring, skilled and nurturing home, and of course, most importantly, family.

Their dedication to caring for vulnerable children and their journey as foster carers has, like so many, been nothing short of extraordinary, and I mean extraordinary, quite literally.

I asked them what kept them fostering for 20yrs and in true understated fashion they simply told me “From the moment we became foster carers we knew we have found our true passion.”

Over the years they have fostered many children and young people, the majority of which live with some kind of disability, everyone with a unique tragic back story and acute individual needs, they have approached each and every child with the same unwavering compassion, support and dedication.

As foster carers during the last decade, they have also extended their commitment to continue to support their foster children in their transition out of care by becoming shared lives carers.

This allowed them to provide care and support for their young people with disabilities as they move into adulthood, empowering them to continue leading fulfilling lives within their family environment and out in the community.

Last year, deservedly, they had the prestigious honour of being awarded MBEs for this exceptional contribution to children’s care and society spanning over twenty years.

I asked them how that felt, to be recognised in such a significant way, Carolyn says “The news filled us with humility and pride, knowing that our work had been recognised and appreciated at such a high level.”

I always find it interesting when speaking to foster carers that words like humbled, pride, privileged and gratitude are so liberally scattered about. It’s a testament to them, as it’s remarkable they feel like this when faced with the ongoing challenges fostering brings with it, after all, it’s no secret that caring for acutely traumatised and in their case disabled children and working with overstretched children’s services, in what many would describe as a broken system, is no easy task, to say the least, it’s admirable that so many foster carers remain so resolute, determined and resilient despite these odds, but they do.

So how was it getting that MBE I ask Carolyn “It was unbelievably exciting but quite nerve-wracking, it was with great anticipation we travelled to Windsor to collect the MBEs, the ceremony was a grand affair, attended by dignitaries and fellow recipients and we had the great pleasure of meeting Prince William. I was petrified I was going to do something wrong and at the same time wanted to savour every moment of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

However in all truth, amidst all the pomp and ceremony, we were so grateful to be recognised for the work we have done, not something that happens often to foster carers, plus it’s also recognition for our children and young people whose lives we know we have been privileged to be a part of.”

The MBEs they received were more than just accolades; they symbolised the profound impact they, like many before them, and the many to come, have had on the UK’s most vulnerable children and how, in so many homes, this love and support does indeed continue into adulthood.

Their current young men are looking to move on and create lives of their own, whilst still supported by Carolyn and Derek, and I asked them what the next chapter looks like; “The MBEs were wonderful, but more than anything we hope they demonstrate recognition for the impact that good foster care can have.”

Without a doubt, they are a testament to the positive impact of a loving skilled foster home, and they went on to say; “As we continue our journey as shared lives carers until our young men feel they want to move on, we are happy in the knowledge that despite their disabilities we have given them everything they need to fly the nest.”

I asked Carolyn what the future holds and about her FosterWiki role; “Going forward I want to make an impact on the bigger picture, promoting foster care, and creating more sustainable improved quality fostering families for every child in the future.

This is why I joined FosterWiki as an Ambassador, to become part of that voice, our voice, to celebrate and champion foster care, something I feel we have not done enough for ourselves, we are always being ‘spoken for’, but I now feel it’s time for foster carers to come out of the shadows, to own their own sector and their own voice, because it can only be good for the children in our care if we feel empowered and supported by one another.”

“Importantly we must also champion what good foster care looks like, acknowledge that our own sector needs so much improvement and are we are only too aware we have a long way to go, raising these standards are imperative for the outcomes of our children and young people as currently simply they are not good enough nationally, yes, I want to be part of that improvement too. Working with FosterWiki affords me that opportunity.”

Carolyn and Derek see it as vital to help more people consider fostering, to them they see it as an incredible opportunity and want others to feel what it likes making this difference, changing young lives and promoting brighter futures with endless possibilities children may not otherwise have had.

As I continue the conversation with Carolyn and Derek, they don’t gloss over the real challenges and often harsh realities of fostering. Still, when I ask them if they would do it all over again, knowing what they know now, Carolyn’s immediate response says it all “in a heartbeat” she replies.

Why did I ask her?

“Because together as a community we have the power to make a positive difference and shape brighter futures for our looked-after children and to be the champions they need to give those the opportunities to thrive and achieve to reach their fullest potential”.

Amen to that.