Donald, Chair of Board of Trustees
During Foster Care Fortnight 2020 we are sharing stories of how foster care transforms lives. By sharing the stories of people who have had their lives transformed by foster care, we pay tribute to the wonderful work foster carers are doing.
We will share thoughts from foster carers, staff, Board members and young people who have experienced foster carer.
Next up is Donald, the Chair of our Board of Trustees.
How long have you been volunteering at Carolina House Trust?
How long have you been supporting foster carers in one way or another? How do you do this?
I suppose I’ve been involved in this ever since I began as a social worker in 1991. I always worked in children’s services and whilst not directly supporting foster carers, I’ve been involved with them all this time.
What is your CHT or foster care career highlight?
Being asked to become Chair of the Board of Trustees was a huge highlight. So far as foster care generally is concerned, then that stretches back over many years. Removing a child from their family home is a huge thing to do, but that is necessary sometimes. Seeing that child coping with that trauma and then start to blossom and thrive in the loving, caring environment of a foster home was always a highlight.
Have you had a low point? How did you overcome it?
Some children are so damaged by their home environment that despite what we do to try and help, they are on a path to self-destruct. It was a tragedy to hear of a young person who you knew, dying long before they should through drugs or self-inflicted harm. I don’t think you ever overcome that, but you learn to live with it by asking yourself if there was more you could have done and reconciling with yourself that you did the best you could.
What would you change about foster care?
I’m not sure that I’d change anything. I think we have a pretty good system in Scotland. Now that answer guarantees that I’ll get lots of messages telling me how naïve I am and telling me what needs changed!
What challenges has COVID-19 and lockdown brought to how you provide support? How are you overcoming them?
The Board of Trustees is lucky in the CHT has excellent leaders of the organisation in place. We know that CHT will be run well. I think my job as Chair of the Board, is to make sure Joy & Sara know I am here for them and that they can contact me any time about anything. Technology has really come in to its own. From never ever having made a video call I now have Zoom, MS Teams, WhatsApp, and Facebook video all loaded up on my computer and ready to go.
What has been the funniest moment of your CHT or foster care career?
Not so much funny, but most pleasurable. That has got to be the first time I attended a Carers Christmas lunch. I just looked around the room and saw all those people who have given so much to help the most vulnerable and damaged children have a life that they will find worth living. Being in a room with so many caring and compassionate people was a truly humbling experience. It restored your belief in humanity.
What do you enjoy doing when you have some time to yourself?
Photography. Since my wife died, I’ve had to make a life for myself. Getting out to the wilds of Scotland with my cameras (yes, I know, I spent far too much) is all that I need.
The theme of Foster Care Fortnight this year is ‘’Foster Care Transforms Lives”. How has being immersed in the world of fostering changed your life?
immersed in the world of fostering changed your life? See my answer to Q5. In a world where making money and scrambling over the other guy to reach the top of the tree is congratulated and rewarded, it is so good to see that the important work is done by people who are the real unsung heroes. Nowadays with the COVID-19 virus, society has seen that health staff, residential care staff, refuse collectors, lorry drivers, etc are people who really matter. For years, I’ve known about people who are in that category – Foster Carers.
About Foster Care Fortnight
Foster Care Fortnight 2020 is taking place from Monday 11 to Sunday 24 May.
The Fostering Network’s theme #ThisIsFostering provides an excellent opportunity to highlight the incredible work foster carers are doing, especially in such unusual circumstances. The overarching message of every Foster Care Fortnight is ‘foster care transforms lives’. Foster care makes a difference to the lives of fostered children and young people, but it also has the power to change the lives of foster carers, their families and all those who are involved in fostering.