Paul and Diane Bassett

Western Trust foster carersDiane and Paul Bassett, foster carers

Paul and Diane Bassett from Ballykelly have been fostering for 11 years and have provided respite, short term and long term care to a number of children.

“We initially looked into fostering because we felt we had had a lot to offer children and had good parental skills,” says Diane. “Our two sons had left home and we had a big empty house and a lot of time and energy because we’re still quite young so we thought we could do something good for a child who really needs help,” she continues.

Paul comments: “I wanted to foster because I just love being a dad. I suppose I’m quite selfish in a way. Plus, I believe that every child deserves a stable, loving and caring home and that is something I think both myself and Diane can offer a child.”

Paul and Daine have welcomed five foster children into their lives on a long term basis over the last 11 years. They have also cared for several children on a short term basis. Today they share their home with Tommy, who has been with the family for six years.

“when children go innto foster care there is more often than not a sad history behind the placement. Every child struggle to adapt an dcome to terms with their sitaution so while fostering is rewarding it can be very challenging, says Diane.

Diane says it can be difficult to say goodbye to a child who you have fostered. “A lot of people who might consider fostering may be worried about how they would cope when they have to say goodbye to a child they have become attached to – it is difficult at times. However, when the placement is short term you are usually prepared for the fact that the child will likely be moving on. The way I cope is I say to myself that I’ve given that child the ability to be with his / her parents and to live a happy and normal life. And that may never have been possible had it not been for us being there for that child at a time when things at home were difficult. That is a very satisfying feeling. Ultimately, you have to put the child’s needs ahead of your own,” she says. “There is no doubt that it can be sad for a while but you can comfort yourself in the knowledge that you have done something really quite special for that child,” she continues.

Paul talks about the assessment process they went through when applying to become foster carers. “The assessment process can take up to six months. At the end of it, your application is put before a fostering panel and you can attend this panel if you wish. It’s a good chance for you to ask questions from the panel and vice versa. Some prospective carers might be worried that the assessment process will be intrusive but we didn’t think it was at all. In fact, I found myself really looking forward to the social worker’s visits. It was like continuing a story of your life – a lot of good memories were brought out from the interviews,” he remarks.

Paul and Diane both feel they have received excellent support and training from the Trust. “I really feel we work in partnership with the Trust. They give you training and help you along and give your support whenever you need it,” says Paul.

The Bassetts would recommend fostering to others. “If you are interested in fostering I would say give it a go. You’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Paul concludes.