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Day in the life of a Portsmouth foster carer: Rachel’s story

Meet Rachel, a 47-year-old full-time sole foster carer for over 20 years who looks after unaccompanied children seeking asylum. Prior to caring for unaccompanied children seeking asylum, Rachel offered emergency care, long-term foster care, short-term foster care, and respite care.

lady with reddish hair standing in front of a greenery wall looking at the camera

A new life path

Rachel, then 25 and working as a maternity nurse, was inspired to foster after spending time with her best friend’s foster children, who quickly became a regular fixture in Rachel’s home and life, filling it with laughter and contentment.

“I thought to myself  ‘I could do this’. I’d always wanted a big, loud fuller family as I love kids. I had my two sons, now aged 23 and 25, but divorced before I could have the big family I dreamed of.”

Rachel provided emergency foster care after passing the assessment process and being approved, providing a safe haven for young people in need. Of these young people, a sibling group of six, nine, and eleven year olds Rachel looked after have since found long-term foster homes, giving them consistency and a greater sense of permanency, stability, and belonging within a family.

Rachel also specialised in caring for teens, including those who have experienced trauma, before training as an unaccompanied children seeking asylum foster carer.

“I was adopted myself and was a challenge at times as a teenager. This carries through to fostering for me and is why I have cared for teens who have experienced trauma.”

A typical day

Rachel’s days are incredibly varied as she cares for three young people, two from Sudan and one from Afghanistan, all of whom are practising Muslims.

We spoke with Rachel during Ramadan, so her ‘typical day’ isn’t an accurate representation of her life, but it’s still critical to be aware of this important holiday in the lives of many of our unaccompanied children seeking asylum.

“Right now, our days are backwards. The boys are sleeping most of the day. As they can’t eat or drink during the day it can be a struggle to be up during sunlight hours, and then they’re awake, active and eating all night.

“Any other time of year, the boys are up early and eager to get to their places of education, but right now, getting the boys up can be a bit of a struggle because it’s Ramadan, which can be incredibly draining on their minds and bodies.

“When they wake up around 5pm, they mentally, physically, and spiritually prepare themselves.” A significant portion of this preparation is known as wudu, a purification process that every Muslim must perform before praying.

“Then we’ll all cook together, so plan on spending more time in your kitchen than you’ve ever spent before. Everything is made from scratch, and all ingredients are fresh and purchased at the market.

“We’ll play marble games, a favourite pastime of theirs, as well as other simple games. I was initially concerned about the language barrier, but we communicated using translation apps or the very simple method of nodding once for yes and twice for no. My older two boys go to the gym late at night, and I spend my time doing housework or relaxing.

“One of the boys has an emergency dentist appointment tomorrow because his teeth are bothering him, so we’ll go there. But, because it’s Ramadan, nothing can be done, even though he’s in a lot of pain, because the dentist won’t be able to spray water in his mouth or anything.”

The best thing I’ve ever done

Rachel describes her change to caring for unaccompanied children seeking asylum as, “The best thing I’ve ever done. It’s been fantastic.” She encouraged: “Do it! It will change your life as well as theirs. It did mine. 100%.

“Despite the fact that it takes two to three years to get to England and that they go through unimaginable hardships, the boys I’ve cared for are so humble, grateful, and full of kindness.

“The look on their faces is absolutely priceless when they return home from their place of education and they’ve passed an exam or gotten a good grade on their coursework and they hear that you are proud of them. The same as when I learn a new word in one of their languages and correctly pronounce it.”

One of the boys Rachel cares for said, “Thank you very much for what you have given us Rachel, and for very good foster care. We are grateful to you.”

Another ended: “Thanks for everything. You [are] always in my heart.”

Could you foster?

More people like Rachel, who offers her heart and home to vulnerable young people, are needed in Portsmouth.   

We welcome foster carers from all backgrounds, regardless of nationality, relationship status, or religious beliefs. 

There’s no upper age limit, and you don’t need to own a home. Prospective carers must be at least 21 years old, have a spare room, some experience with young people, and a lot of patience, resilience, and a positive outlook. 

We offer our foster carers fantastic allowances for the children in their care, thorough training and continuing 24/7 support, access to the award-winning Mockingbird model of care, social activities, and free membership to The Fostering Network. 

If you have further questions to ask, give us a call on023 9283 4071 or email us at and a member of our team will answer any and all questions you may have. 

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