Frances Donnelly

Western HSC Trust foster carer

People from all walks of life do foster.

Frances is from Co. Tyrone and has been a foster carer for the Western Trust for 19 years. Frances is a retired Family Support Worker with over 30 years experience under her belt and has enjoyed supporting families throughout the years. She loved it so much that she continues to support young people who cannot live at home with their families.

Frances and her husband Tony started their journey in fostering in 1997 when they put themselves forward to care for a 10 year old boy they had been befriending, who lived in a Children’s Home. Frances shares, “I felt so strongly that this young boy deserved the chance to grow up within a family, and I felt it should be with my family with my own teenage children”. Frances and Tony supported this young boy to return home to his family 4 years later. The couple went on the foster two brothers on a long-term basis, supporting them into early adulthood. The boys continue to live within the family home.

In 2015 at the age of 64 years old Frances transferred into the Western Trust Specialist Therapeutic Fostercare team as she felt she still had a lot more to give. “The boys have grown up and are busy  out and about with their own wee lives. I have always been in the caring role and I believe I still have a lot to offer a young person”. Frances is currently caring for a teenage boy who has very specific needs due to his diagnosis of Autism.

In recalling all her experiences as a foster carer, Frances said, “I have had many challenging times, but the positive aspects of seeing children settle and become a big part of my family, seeing them do well and developing great relationships far outweighs the challenges, it keeps me young”.

Frances has valued the support she has received over the years from her supervising social worker and the children’s social workers. She has also enjoyed attending training to keep her knowledge and skills up to date and has valued meeting other carers through the different courses.

Frances would encourage anyone with an interest to find out more, “I would urge anyone interested in fostering to take that leap, I did, and I have never looked back”.

To find out more about becoming a valued HSC foster carer, call Regional Adoption and Fostering Service on 0800 0720 137 who will put you in touch with your local HSC Trust. Alternatively you can enquire online.