Growing up as part of a fostering family Leigh-Anna always knew that she wanted to be a foster carer
A Cumbrian foster carer, who herself grew up in a fostering household, is sharing her story as part of Sons and Daughters Month - the annual celebration of the vital contribution that the children of foster carers make.
Organised by The Fostering Network, the October awareness month recognises the important role sons and daughters of foster carers play in helping to welcome fostered children into their families. Growing up as part of a fostering family Leigh-Anna Mason, 27, from Maryport, always knew that she wanted to be a foster carer. She said: “I was at Primary School when my own mum started fostering and to be honest I can’t remember a time before we were a fostering family. This is the norm to me - it is my life. “I always enjoyed being part of a fostering family growing up and having lots of ‘brothers and sisters’ around me. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always easy seeing the foster children struggle and how they treated my mum sometimes and how it affected everyone in the house. But as I got older I realised that was the change happening – it was all about supporting them at their lowest and helping them through it. “Because of my experience growing up I always wanted to be a social worker or a foster carer when I grew up. I did a Youth and Community Work degree at University and after I finished my studies last year I decided to apply to foster. I was settled with my partner Matthew and we were living in a three bedroomed house, just the two of us. We knew there were children out there who needed a family home and we had two spare rooms, we are both very family-oriented and we had lots of love to give.” Leigh-Anna with her partner Matthew, also 27, applied to foster last year and are currently caring for two siblings under six. Leigh-Anna said: “We contacted the council in September and were approved to do short or long term fostering for children aged four to 11 in April. Our first placement is a sibling group who’ve been with us for 12 weeks now and it’s going really well. “Before they moved in we were so nervous even with all my experience, as we knew that we were going to be a big part of the children’s life. But from the start it went really well and within a couple of days it felt like they’d been with us forever. “The progress they’ve made since moving in even baffles me. The eldest really struggled with behaviour and understanding his own feelings and just by having boundaries in place, letting him know he was safe, secure and loved, he’s come on leaps and bounds. “Seeing that change is the reward for us and seeing how they’ve accepted us into their life. It’s also been lovely to see the development of their ‘siblingship’ and that bond between them. I’ve two sisters of my own and if you can keep families together then you should, they’ve had so much change in their short lives already. ” Cllr Anne Burns, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “The sons and daughters of our foster carers play such an important role in helping to nurture, guide and support their foster siblings “During Sons and Daughters Month we would like to say a massive thank you to them all and to highlight the positive benefits that fostering can have on the sons and daughters of our foster carers which often stays with them all through their lives, as leigh-Anna’s story illustrates.”
You can find out more about fostering at cumbria.gov.uk/fostering