Capstone Foster Care News

Last week marked a significant event in the fostering calendar here in the North West of England.  Blackpool Tower, The Trafford Centre and The Liver Building, amongst other high profile landmarks across the region, shut off their lights temporarily as a way to mark the ‘1200 Lights’ campaign; an initiative designed to raise awareness that our region alone is short of approximately 1200 families desperately needed to sign up and step up as Foster Carers.

I’m a big supporter of any event like this – they make a statement and they get people talking; and these two things together raise awareness.

However, more can – and should – be done to address this issue.

One of the reasons I started blogging for Capstone Foster Care, was because my first ever submission, which I’d originally scrawled on the back of an envelope as life unfolded around me, caused a huge spike in traffic and hits to the Agency’s website.  People were not only reading my blog, but they were sticking around in cyberspace to look through the website as a whole to find out more about what fostering involves and how they could potentially get involved.   This was a fantastic result, and exactly what the Agency had wanted.  I had begun to make the concept of fostering relatable.

What was really interesting for me, however, wasn’t the traffic, or hits, or whatever you want to call it.  It was the feedback – the actual comments I was receiving based on what I had written.   A cynic would say that I merely adored the praise, but it went beyond that.   As I continued blogging, I was fascinated by what people thought and really motivated by the fact that people took time out of their day not only to read my blogs but to comment on them and share them.   It was amazing for me to realise that in speaking so openly, I was playing a significant role in dispelling myths, providing real-life details, and breaking taboos surrounding how the whole fostering process really works.  I had always wanted to do these things, because I don’t write to be creative; I write to be real.

As my readers get to know me, it probably won’t shock a lot of them to discover that a few of my blogs have actually been ‘Capstone censored’ or ‘toned down’ along the way.  Unsurprisingly – I hate this.  The point of my writing is to give people the clearest picture possible, because for me, the only way we will ever get more Foster Carers on board to address the desperate shortage highlighted in the 1200 Lights campaign, is to make sure that people feel able to go into this process eyes open; lights on.Jo and Ste

charity climbEarlier this year, staff and fostering families at Capstone climbed Mount Snowdon to raise funds for Shanias’ operation for spinal surgery, which was a procedure that could only take place in the US. As Shanais’ condition deteriorated the operation was fast-tracked and the family raised the funds they needed to take Shanais to have the spinal surgery she needed. Capstone raised almost £1000 for the cause.

Here’s what Shanais’ mum had to say:

“I want to say a massive thank you to all the social workers and foster carers from the Ringwood office who climbed mount Snowdon to raise funds for Shanais operation in America . Shanais is 13 weeks post op and doing amazing , she is back to most sports and her strength is getting stronger every day. Because of this new Tethering operation to correct her Scoliosis she will be able to live a pain free life , with full flexibility. Without all the support from yourself s and others we wouldn’t have been able to do this  So a big Thankyou once again. From one very happy mum. Shelley xx “

Birth children of foster carers Callum and Freya did it! They participated in a project with the Amigos charity to support orphaned children in Uganda. During their time away they met up with friends they made on a previous visit. On this trip they helped to build a source of clean water for the locals and learnt more about life in Uganda. Read more about their amazing experience below:

How did you feel when you arrived at Kira Farm?: 14716330_1218148271582078_2276876656955285889_n

We were both really tired after hours of travelling but when we arrived we were so excited and happy to be back. We couldn’t wait to meet all the trainees the next morning and find out what we’d be doing.

Had it changed since your last visit?:

We recognised Kira straight away and it still has most of the same buildings and facilities. However they have recently built a big guest house for visitors like us which wasn’t there before, it is also a place where trainees can practice hospitality and catering skills. We arrived during the night but when it got light the next morning we remembered how beautiful the training centre is.

Were there more children this time?: Every year Kira recruits about 40 students between the ages of 18 to 25. We remember there being roughly the same amount of trainees as before.

How had Snoopy grown since your last visit, did he recognise you?: 14563314_1220544991342406_2693338613116252146_n

Snoopy has grown up so much since the last time we saw him, so has the rest of his family. When they arrived at Kira Farm to visit us, we gave each other big hugs.  Snoopy told us how much we’d grown. We all recognised each other straight away, the only difference is their height! They are still the young children we grew so close with on the last trip. We were all really happy to see each other, Aunt Betty doesn’t speak English but I could see she was very emotional and Rizic explained they were tears of joy.  Years before, when Aunt Betty was asked to look after all of the orphaned children, she was terrified as she had barely enough money to care for herself and her young daughter. Amigos stepped in to help her and found sponsors.  This enabled the children to go to school regularly.  They also provided training, guidance and a small loan so Aunt Betty could set up a small business to provide for her extended family.  She is so grateful to Amigos for all of their support.

Snoopy played football with the boys and I chatted to his sisters and cousin about how they are doing at home and school and their plans for the future.  Unfortunately it was just a brief visit as they had to get back to Kampala as it was getting late.

What was it like helping the locals in the community?:

Helping the locals was such a rewarding experience, we were split into 3 groups and between us we made 3 water jars in one village, this way no one has to walk too far to get a clean drink. All the groups were shown where the village has to get their water, it was a filthy pond at the bottom of a steep hill. We filled a jerry can with 10 litres of water to carry back to the family our group was making a jar for, they were so heavy and usually a 10 year old has to carry two of them on their own. The water jar took us about 3 days to make and the family would sit outside and watch the whole time, children would come from around the village to watch too. The jar is filled with rain water coming off the roof, this is much cleaner than muddy pond water so now the people of the village are less likely to get ill. It is wonderful to know that we have helped provide clean water for such a wonderful family and an entire village.

Would you be visiting Kira again in the future?:

Yes, we hope so! It would be great to see what has changed and to meet the new students with inspiring new stories. We would also like to see the staff again who we are grateful to for making our trip so comfortable and enjoyable.

What are your next steps with Amigos are there any more challenges on the horizon for you both?:IMG_8183

At the moment we want to promote Amigos and encourage more people to support the charity.  If we were to go back we would definitely want to pay for it ourselves again and raise money for the charity whilst doing so. Fundraising was easier than we thought as people were so generous.  We wouldn’t want to walk up Snowdon barefoot again! We would have to think of another challenge, perhaps ‘Tough Mudder’?

Our Foster child really wanted to come to Uganda with us and hopefully she will get a chance to go there one day.  She is now also sponsoring a 7 yr old girl called Catherine who we were fortunate enough to meet whilst there.  They will write to each other and learn about their different lives.  We will obviously always keep in touch with Snoopy and we hope to meet again in the future.

What does this charity mean to you?:

Amigos has provided us with two life changing experiences and a chance to meet Snoopy, his sisters and his Aunt who we consider a part of our family. We thank them for educating us on the issues at hand and how we can help the Ugandan people. We have met so many amazing people and seen the most beautiful things which we will remember for the rest of our lives. We have been shown what Amigos are doing and how much positive impact it has on people who have suffered so terribly, they help people to help themselves which will benefit families for years to come.

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