A COUPLE from Swindon is urging others to consider fostering to help change the lives of vulnerable children. 

Raymartin Lacey, 40, and his partner John Tushingham, 46, first considered fostering when Raymartin became disillusioned with his career as a primary school teacher. 

Friends kept telling the pair how good they are with children, which cemented the idea.

Raymartin said: “I had been working as a teaching assistant for a couple of schools in Swindon, and decided that I wanted to retrain as a teacher because at the time I thought that’s what I really wanted to do. I absolutely loved teaching, and will always love it, but I found the hours needed for lesson planning and everything else to be totally consuming. I also began to realize that it was the emotional and social development that I enjoyed most about teaching, and my strengths tended to be with those children who had behavioral problems or had had a tougher start in life than most.

In November 2018, the couple, from Blunsdon St Andrew, were approved as foster carers with Five Rivers Child Care – an independent fostering provider. They are now foster parents to nine-year-old Graham. 

Raymartin and John are hoping to foster Graham on a long-term basis, meaning he will stay with them until he is able to live independently as an adult.

With more children and young people in a need of a loving and safe home every day, fostering provides the flexibility, security, and stability that many are looking for. 

“Once the idea of fostering was in our heads, John and I just knew it was the right decision, not just for me and my career, but also for us as a couple,” Raymartin added.

“I’ve always wanted to help and support children and fostering would allow me to do that on a more personal level than being in a school. I love that has become a foster carer means that I am able to follow my passion, as well as giving Graham my undivided attention and support.

While working as a teacher, Raymartin found he struggled to find a work-life balance and often felt he was struggling to spend quality time with John, who works for a broadband company.

Raymartin added: “It got to a point with teaching where I felt all I did was work. I had almost no time to spend with my family and other commitments made it feel like we were living two separate lives. Fostering has given me my life back, I’m able to enjoy the time we have as a family of three and the extra time I now have with John too. 

“Of course, there are still demands with fostering, but I’m nowhere near as stressed, and it’s such a privilege to be making a difference to Graham’s life and future which is undoubtedly the most important thing. 

"Graham’s a completely different child to when he arrived, he’s so much more confident in himself and together we’ve helped him to overcome some big hurdles in his life. We’re just so proud of the person he’s becoming. We’re excited to see what the future brings and to create more memories with him.

“I would genuinely encourage others who may be thinking about fostering to give it a go, it is the most incredible and rewarding thing I have ever done. There are so many transferable skills from other careers and from parenting that I think makes fostering a viable, and really secure, career path for a lot of people.” 

With UK unemployment rising to 4.8 percent, and the number of people claiming work-related benefits rising by 1.5 million since the start of the pandemic in March, Raymartin thinks it could be a viable career option for many others facing job uncertainty.

With more children and young people in a need of a loving and safe home every day, fostering provides the flexibility, security, and stability that many people are looking for in current times. 

Adrian Chappell, fostering services manager, said: “Raymartin and John are amazing examples of carers who have provided love and support for children and young people. They have totally committed themselves to give Graham a better life by giving him the tools so that he can reach his full potential."

"Although being a foster carer expands beyond a traditional nine-to-five job, making a positive impact on a child’s life can be extremely rewarding.

“The coronavirus pandemic has affected many industries across the UK, and the impact the virus has had on retail and the airline industry, in particular, can clearly be seen across Wiltshire and the South West. 

“We’d like to encourage caring individuals who may be facing redundancy or a change in their job situation because of the pandemic, to consider how rewarding fostering can be. Fostering offers flexible working, a competitive fostering allowance, the comfort of working from home, and job security due to the constant demand for carers. 

“We’re keen to hear from people from all backgrounds across Swindon and Wiltshire who are nurturing, compassionate, and enjoy supporting others, as well as anyone who has questions about fostering and the variety of roles available.”

People from all walks of life can be considered to become foster carers as long as they are over 21 years of age. This includes single people, co-habiting couples, same-sex couples, and people living in rented accommodation. You will need a spare room for each foster child. 

A career in foster care offers flexible working and competitive rates of pay. 
For more information on foster care contact Five Rivers Child Care on 0345 266 0272 or visit www.five-rivers.org