Blackpool foster mother encourages other 'empty-nesters' to give it a go

A woman from Blackpool who started fostering earlier this year after her eldest left the family home, is encouraging others to follow suit.
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Bernadette Oshea, 56, from Thornton-Cleveleys, had always thought about fostering full-time having spent more than 10 years working for a charity that supports and cares for children of Chernobyl with radiation induced illnesses.

However, it wasn’t until her eldest son moved out, leaving Bernadette with an emptier nest and just her youngest daughter living at home, that she started to think about fostering full-time more seriously.

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Bernadette started fostering earlier this year with Foster Careline – an independent fostering organisation and part of the Five Rivers social enterprise family - which is based in the Wirral and has foster carers across the North West.

Bernadette O'Shea has been fostering parents and their babies since June with Foster Careline, an independent fostering organisation and part of the Five Rivers social enterprise familyBernadette O'Shea has been fostering parents and their babies since June with Foster Careline, an independent fostering organisation and part of the Five Rivers social enterprise family
Bernadette O'Shea has been fostering parents and their babies since June with Foster Careline, an independent fostering organisation and part of the Five Rivers social enterprise family

She said: “When my eldest Ryan moved out it was a really difficult time for me. Although I still had my youngest daughter living at home, she was starting to live her life more independently and didn’t need me as much as she used to.

"I just felt like I had so much more love to give as a mum and wanted to pour all of my energy into helping others in my community that needed extra support.”

With more than 45,000 learners from across the North West alone going to university this year and the number of children entering the care system rising rapidly, it would take less than three per cent of parents who have children moving out for university to meet the current shortfall of the 1,330 foster homes currently needed across the region .

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Bernadette has since fostered two parents and their babies on parent-and-child placements, a specialist type of fostering where a young parent or parents and their child stays with foster carers when they’re in need of extra help and support.

Kind-hearted Bernadette has opened up her home to those in needKind-hearted Bernadette has opened up her home to those in need
Kind-hearted Bernadette has opened up her home to those in need

The family usually live with the foster carers for 12 weeks to assess if the parent(s) are able to live independently with their child, with the aim of keeping them together as a family unit where possible.

Talking about this specific type of fostering, Bernadette added: “After doing some research into fostering opportunities available in my community, I came across parent and child fostering and knew it was something I was destined to do.

"I felt like I could help so many young parents secure a better future for themselves and their children by doing this type of fostering in a loving and safe environment.

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“It’s such a privilege to watch these young people grow and see their journeys as parents develop in the short time they are with me. I wake up every day with so much love in my heart seeing the progress they’ve both made.”

Pauline Fitzgerald, Manager at Foster Careline, added: “Bernadette’s dedication and passion for helping recent parents and their babies has helped her make a positive impact on their futures.

"The way that Bernadette has opened her home and heart has made her stand out as a carer with Foster Careline."

You can find out more about fostering with Foster Careline on 01513 911 345, by email [email protected] or visit www.fostercareline.com.

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