“I LOVE being able to offer stability, comfort and trust to someone at a time in their life when it’s what they need.”
That’s what St Annes mum Sue Mansell loves most about being a foster carer.
Currently looking after teenagers, Sue – a former flight attendant, hotelier, photographer and furniture retailer – has fostered around 30 youngsters over the last seven years.
And the mum-of-three says not only has it been immensely rewarding to know she has helped others, it also helped her own family to learn and develop.
Fostering through Blackpool Council is Sue’s full-time job, she now devotes her time to it and intends to carry on for as long as she can.
She said: “I want to continue to be part of what is evidently a crucial and effective system. For me, it makes perfect sense.
“The simple things most of us take for granted can make a massive difference to how a young person is able to cope with less than perfect circumstances.
“In my experience, children and young people feel shame for situations totally beyond their control, and helping them come to terms with life’s quirks can dramatically alter subsequent events.”
Sue started fostering when her youngest children were 11 and 13 and at school.
She had done a variety of careers over the years, including working as a PR and marketing assistant, vintage clothing boutique and flight attendant, and her eldest daughter had just left home.
The single-mum had a good friend who fostered, and another who was a member of a family who fostered.
She said: “It appealed in contrast to the nine to five treadmill, as it allowed management of my own time and ability to be at home for my own children.
“It was a combination of circumstances really, with my eldest daughter leaving home and my youngest being 11 and 13. As the assessment process developed, so did my interest.”
Sue said the assessment process was quite arduous, but she was expertly assisted and encouraged to identify her own strengths and weaknesses.
She describes it as a “huge learning curve, but an extremely empowering one”.
Sue started looking after young children between two months and three years old. Her own children are now 18, 20 and 32.
She said: “As my experience and birth children have grown, I slowly looked after older children and young people. I’m still a rookie really – there are foster carers who have been fostering for more than 30 years. I currently look after teenagers.”
Fostering is a role Sue has enjoyed and she believes has been a very positive experience, not just for her personally but the whole family.
“My family have learnt so much throughout our fostering career.
“My son has developed naturally into a brilliant mentor and is now at uni on a sports coaching degree course.
“My daughters are far wiser, grounded and compassionate than they would have been without the experience.
“Fostering to me means financial security, daily personal challenges and rewards – ensuring continual growth for all of us.
“And never a dull moment!”
Blackpool Council is currently looking for foster carers, who, like Sue, can provide help for children when they need it most.
Blackpool Council’s adoption and fostering teams can be contacted by calling (01253) 477888, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or clicking www.blackpool.gov.uk.