"The positive effect that comes about with time and consistency can be amazing"

Barney and Rajainder’s Fostering Story

Barney and Rajainder

After a career in social work, Barney, along with his partner Rajainder, followed the “unretirement” trend and decided to take on a role which gave them purpose. They joined as foster carers with Swiis Foster Care in 2019 and have since gone on to foster over 33 children and young people.

“In 2019, aged sixty- six, I decided to retire from my work in a Community Mental Health Team and looked forward to leaving in the November of that year. I met my partner, Rajainder, in 1989 whilst we were both undertaking nurse training in London; he is thirteen years my junior.”

“On returning to Newcastle in 1995 to care for my mother, I undertook Social Worker training in 1997 and have since worked between Local Authorities and the NHS in various care roles, spending the last seven years of my career as a therapist.”

“During our holidays of July 2019, we discussed future work I could consider, utilising the skills I had acquired over the years as I did not want to finish work completely, but no longer wished to work in the NHS; Rajainder mentioned fostering.  We had previously discussed fostering a few years previously and at the time it was not something I wanted to consider.”

“Early social work experiences had given me insight to the experiences of children and young people accommodated and how complex the needs of some individuals were and, the care required; I did not think I could contemplate fostering and full-time work which I wasn’t ready to terminate or, to make changes in our lives given the commitment which fostering requires.”

“Having revisited the thought of fostering, it was like a light switch being turned on and I knew straight away it was now something I could do and utilise the skills I had acquired through work and, most importantly, life.”

“How children and young people may feel about being placed with a same sex couple was obviously a consideration we discussed and concluded that anyone to be placed with us would be informed prior to placement, making it their decision.  We agreed that I would be the main carer whilst Rajainder continued his nursing and the same day, the phone call was made to start the process.”

Barney and Rajainder

“My work had taken me into many different care, nursing and Local Authority departments where information and feedback in respect of other organisations are obtained so I was aware of Swiis as a fostering organisation and my preference should we become foster carers.”

“Having completed the assessment process, our first placement, siblings aged six and nine (brother and sister), arrived five days before Christmas. Chaos ensued as they were not used to a calm, caring, consistent environment in which age-appropriate independent living skills were taught. Following a twelve month stay with us, they moved to a long-term placement with a developing self-esteem, confidence, and self-identity they had not known. We feel privileged to have been part of their lives at such a young age and given them the confidence and skills to move forward.”

“For the past three years we have undertaken Emergency and Respite fostering so we have had a very diverse range of placements, each with their individual presentation and needs.”

“I think I would advise prospective foster carers to consider children’s and young people’s presentations, not as challenges, as they are often referred to, but rather consider their background and history and respond appropriately; the positive effect that comes about with time and consistency can be amazing and gratifying.”

“I can only say that fostering as a same sex couple has been such a positive experience for us and for some of the young people we have had placed with us, giving them the confidence to initiate age appropriate conversations about thoughts and concerns they had in respect of their own sexuality; a topic they had previously felt uncomfortable approaching, which obviously had a negative impact on their confidence, mental health and behaviour.”

“We have received nothing but respect and support from all professionals involved and to see the growth in confidence and self-respect of a young person is very gratifying.  As in any relationship, supporting and communicating with each other is crucial and I am thankful to have received both from Rajainder.”

“To any couples considering fostering as a career, I would urge them to ‘GO FOR IT’.”
Barney and Rajainder

If Barney and Rajainder’s fostering story has inspired you, speak to someone in our team about becoming a foster carer. They will be happy to answer any questions you have.

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