Neil and Tina Symington

South Eastern foster carers

People from all walks of life do foster

The Symington family are foster carers for South Eastern HSC Trust. Neil and Tina share their journey below:

“We have both worked with children and young people for the majority of our careers and over recent years we have worked more specifically with children and young people with disabilities and additional needs, but it was not until we read an advert in the newspaper one evening that we knew we could offer more. The advert was about a young boy with complex medical needs who was living hospital and in need of a foster family. We were truly inspired by his story, wanted to make a difference and it was in that moment we started to explore the possibility of becoming foster parents.

We expressed our interest by phoning South Eastern HSC Trust and were sent an information pack which we read through and watched the DVD with our 2 daughters. With their support we contacted the Fostering Social Work Team to arrange an initial visit. It was vital to us that our daughters were committed to and happy with the idea of fostering and we continually discussed this with them throughout the entire process.

The assessment and training lasted approximately 6 months and although extensive and challenging at times, it was an opportunity for us to fully consider the in’s and out’s of fostering. We explored the skills involved, reviewed our values and beliefs and reflected on our ability to foster as a family. It was a process that the whole family enjoyed and we had an excellent social worker who supported us at every stage.

We were delighted to be approved by the Fostering Panel to provide Respite Care for children aged 0–5 in May 2014 and could not wait to get started. Since then we have successfully provided regular care for a 3 year old boy every 6 weeks and a 4 year old boy every 4 weeks and more often during holiday periods, which fits in well with our busy family life. Each of the boys have specific medical and additional needs and prior to providing care for one of the children we completed extensive training to ensure we could provide the best care possible. We have worked closely with their full-time carers, social services and a range of other professionals to ensure that the children are happy, growing and developing in a loving and supportive environment.

As a family we continue to thoroughly enjoy fostering and have always been dedicated to providing children with a home where they felt comfortable, that was caring, full of fun and a place were they could flourish. We feel extremely privileged to be part of 2 children’s lives and value all that they have taught us.

We strongly believe that fostering provides a unique opportunity to truly make a difference in a child’s life. It was our reason for choosing to foster and we would strongly urge anyone with the same motivation to do the same”.

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.