One Thousand Pairs of Shoes - Neill's story

27 September 2017
A man and a child


“My life has completely changed, and although a lot of that is down to my own drive and determination, I am so thankful to my foster carers who put me on the right path.”

Meet Neill

Neill is 38 and had a difficult childhood where he sadly couldn’t live with his own family and spent lots of time in children’s homes, boarding schools and foster homes as he was growing up.  Neill wanted to share his story with us to show people the difference people can make as foster carers, and how his own foster family helped him turn his life around.

“Growing up was a really difficult time for me, and not something I can look back at with many happy memories.  I felt unwanted and a burden to my family and spent most of my time living with my grandparents, in children’s homes and in boarding schools.

“When I was at home, I ran away.  I was treated badly and sometimes I just needed to get away from it all and this is the only way I knew how to do that.   My step dad was a bully and as I got older, I stood up to him.  I remember the day so clearly, I had just turned 13, and suddenly I found myself being left in the reception area of a children’s home.

“I was scared and worried about what was going to happen to me and coped by keeping my defences up all the time.  I wouldn’t let people in as I was so used to rejection, so I became the one who would do the rejecting. 

Meeting my foster family

“I remember my first foster family well, it was strange for me being in a loving and caring environment.  They welcomed me and supported me, but I struggled because of everything I had been through.  They were patient with me, firm and fair but I wasn’t able to talk about what had been happening to me.

“I was only with them on a short term basis, the couple were already fostering two other children so I couldn’t stay there long.  I built up a really strong friendship with the lad they were looking after and we turned to each other for support, I’m still in touch with him now as well as the foster family.

“Looking back it was chaotic, I was moved from the family and stayed in lots of children’s homes until I was 16.  By that time I had no way to get a house, no job or any experience of how to look after myself.  I saw my grandparents every so often but I ended up on the streets and the only way I knew how to survive was to commit crime as I didn’t know any better.  I went to prison on a few occasions, my life was a mess.

Turning my life around

“I felt let down and eventually I turned to my old foster carers as I knew I couldn’t go on like this.  That was the turning point for me and I’m so thankful to them.  They put me in touch with a friend who was able to give me a job and somewhere to live, and I was then able to make money without hurting others.

“It felt good!  Especially when I was able to afford to rent my own flat, find a better paid job, put myself through college and start a respectable career.  I met my girlfriend and we went on to get married and buy our own house, and I was so happy when our son came along.

“My life has completely changed and although a lot of that is down to my own drive and determination, I am so thankful to my foster carers as it was them who set me on the right path.  I have the utmost respect for every single foster carer out there, they are doing so much to help children and give them the love and support they need that they don’t get from their own family.

“I’m happy to say that my wife and I are now taking the steps to becoming foster carers ourselves.  I want to be a good role model and do all I can to save children from having to go through some of the things I had to when I was growing up.  We can provide a loving and caring environment where we can support children to learn, grow and progress which will be so special for me – I want to give something back.

“To be a foster carer I think the most important qualities are to be able to listen and be there, set boundaries and be firm but fair.  Foster carers have such a positive effect on people and I would encourage anyone thinking about it to do what we’re doing and take the next step.”

How we’ll support you in your foster carer role

We provide preparation training for foster carers to help get you ready for the role, and offers lots of different training courses tailored to different needs.

Our team will help you with advice and information and support you at every stage, and will put you in touch with other foster carers in your area to help you build a strong support network.

We will also pay you a weekly allowance which is higher than the government recommended rates.

Get in touch today

We’d love to talk to you if you want to know more, you can get in touch by:

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