Jahanara and Nural have been foster carers with Capstone for the last 6 years and during that time all their placements have been unaccompanied minors.

Jahanara said:

‘6 years ago, we decided to return to fostering after some encouragement from our children and we have been with Capstone Foster Care ever since. A lot has changed in that time and since joining Capstone we have learnt a lot and the training has been very good. We also have a lovely community of carers here and we are all good friends which means we have great support.

When we joined Capstone, it wasn’t a specific preference, but all our placements have been unaccompanied minors and we currently have 2 in placement with us at the moment. When we got sent our first referral, we said yes, and it just happened from there. It has had its ups and downs and its own challenges, but I would say that it has had a lot less issues that your standard placement may experience.

The main worry with unaccompanied minor placements is that the young person may be missing home, their family and that they might feel alone because they are not used to this country. They are suddenly placed in a new home with new people and who might not understand them.

As a foster carer the biggest responsibility is finding a way of connecting with them. You may follow the same religion, talk the same language, like the same food or have the same hobbies and just need to find the one of these that helps the young person. This is something I was comfortable with as I moved here when I was 12. Although I moved with my family I can understand how it feels being in a strange place and at new school, so it gives me the strength to take these placements as I know what they must be missing, and they can talk to me and know that I understand.

One of the challenges is teaching the young person to do things for themselves and teaching them respect. A lot of unaccompanied minors have been told that when they get here they will be able to ask for what they want, and it will be provided, so you need to help them understand the process whilst being mindful of what they may have been through to get here. They are just children and they don’t understand.

If I was to give advice to anyone who is thinking about placements, then I would say try it and you will probably enjoy it. I really do. You are given the chance to make them into something and you know when they leave that they will appreciate you and what you have done for them. Children are children at the end of the day and if you want to help an child then help any child. It is humanity.’


Our wonderful foster carer Lynne Blencowe has written a guest blog for International Day of Happiness.

Happiness: a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by, among others, positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

As a foster carer I usually experience many different emotions throughout the day, but no matter what the day has brought, I always like to end it on a positive note with the beautiful children who are part of our Chosen Family.

When I put the children to bed I always get them to say something specific and wonderful about themselves that has happened, or how they feel about themselves that day. This can be anything including, “I am really proud of myself as I got all of my spellings right”, “I am precious to you”, “I am beautiful and have beautiful skin.” I then tell them 5 positive things about themselves or what they have done that day. These might be, “I really loved that cup of coffee you made for me today – it was just what I wanted” or “Thank you for reading to me so beautifully today – I loved the expression you used – you are a great reader” or “You made me really laugh today when you told me that funny story of what happened at school”

To find 5 positive things to say to a child or young person when everything is going well is easy to do. What’s harder is finding those things when times are tough – but often that is when it is most important and meaningful. For me, I find it can be extremely useful in the prevention of Blocked Care which Dan Hughes and Jonathan Baylin describe in their book, “Brain based parenting” as:

Blocked Care (the stressed-out survival-based brain mode). Blocked care’ describes ‘how stress can suppress a well-meaning parent’s capacity to sustain loving feelings and empathy towards his or her child’. It stems from a need for self-protection and defensiveness and fosters a reactive style of parenting that is narrowly focussed on the immediate behaviour and most negative aspects of the child. In blocked care there is a tendency to overreact to a child’s nonverbal communication; nonverbal communications are processed faster than verbal communications and therefore blocks verbal communication. Blocked care has a tendency to be judgemental

Some young people, especially teenagers, in my experience, find it very difficult to accept praise, so on occasions I have shouted messages through the bedroom door at night – “By the way – I loved the way you did your hair in that up-do style” and I have received the response, “**** **”” but a few days later I have been asked, “Did you really like my hair the other day?” So – they are always listening and taking in what you say – even if they pretend not to!

If at all possible, the only way for me to end each and every day, particularly on the International Day of Happiness, is with positive and pleasant emotions both for myself and the children I love. Maybe give it a try?

Happy International Day of Happiness.


Community Psychiatric Nurse, Team Leader – Georgina Cadby-Fisher, who has been working in mental health for 3 years has written an advice piece on how to spot the signs and provide support to somebody who is self-harming.

Georgina Cadby Fisher

What is self-harm?

So what do we mean by Self-harm? Self-harm is when you hurt yourself as a way of dealing with very difficult feelings, painful memories or overwhelming situations and experiences that feel out of control. It can be the thing people turn to when they feel they have no other option.

Signs of potential self-harm:

There are not always obvious signs that somebody close to you may have begun self harming. But there are some signs you can look out for:

  • Unexplained cuts, bruises or burns
  • Wearing more clothing than usual to cover any evidence of self harm
  • Changes in eating or becoming secretive/obsessive about eating
  • Unusual weight loss or weight gain

So why do people self-harm?

There are many reasons people self-harm, such as being bullied, stress, bereavement, experiencing a form of abuse whether that’s sexual, physical or emotional.

  • If people are angry, self-harming can be a form of release of pent up anger or emotion
  • Self-harm can be a form of control for people if they feel they have no control over other aspects of their life
  • It can be for psychological reasons such as hearing voices that tell them to do it

Advice for people living with somebody that self-harms

Living with somebody or watching people close to you self harm can be difficult and distressing but there are things you can do to help:


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