Released On 9th Apr 2015

Allie: ‘Being fostered put me on the straight and narrow’

I had just turned 16 when I went into care. My mum had met someone who became abusive, who wasn’t very nice at all. I ended up taking myself out of it, running away. Social Services got involved then because I didn’t go home.

At first I lived in a children’s home to give me somewhere safe to go.

After a few months I was offered a choice. I was asked if I wanted to go into independent living, or if I wanted to be fostered. Because I was still quite young I said I wanted to live with a family. I didn’t feel like I wanted to be on my own.

I was really lucky to end up staying with Bill and Maggie.

When I first arrived, they were really welcoming, all big smiles. I visited them with my social worker and the person who led the children’s home where I’d lived.

They explained that if I was interested in staying with Bill and Maggie, then that was my choice. They all showed me around and we had a chat in the front room.

Bill and Maggie had four children of their own, and when I was there they were also taking on emergency placements, and had another child who stayed there a bit longer.

They put me back on the straight and narrow, and helped me get my life back on track. I’d go out drinking and doing silly things. But they helped me through college. I didn’t complete it all, but they were there to support me when I struggled. They helped me find a part-time job while I was in college so I could keep myself independent. If anything happened, or I needed them, they were there. There were times when I would get told off for something, and my reaction back then would be, ‘Oh, whatever’, but I knew they were doing it for my own good, like any parent, and they did get through to me.

You knew that you couldn’t walk over them, but you also knew that they wouldn’t walk over you.

I stayed with them for about a year or so until I was 18, when I decided to move out and get my own place, but we always stayed in touch.

Today, if I need any help, I know they’re just on the end of a phone. I have two boys of my own now, and Bill and Maggie are always more than happy to help if I need a hand. They treat them as if they’re their own grandchildren, and we always meet up for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, for birthday meals together.

For me, the most important thing was that I knew where I stood with them. They’ve been so loyal to me; if I had any issues I knew I could trust them.

I’ve turned everything around. My fiancé and I are getting married next year, and Bill and Maggie are both going to be playing a really important part in our wedding, which is going to be really nice.

If you’re thinking about being a foster carer, you should give it a go. All children are different and not all teenagers are difficult. A lot of the kids I knew were in care due to problems at home, families breaking down. It wasn’t them – they had issues at home they were needing to get away from. But people automatically think, ‘Oh no, a teenager’.

If you can be that positive person to help them, who sees things differently, you can make all the change in the world.

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