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

Meet Michael, a 49-year-old full-time IT project manager who fosters teenagers on his own. Before moving to Portsmouth and transferring to Foster Portsmouth, a straightforward process that took just three months, Michael had previously fostered with a London-based agency.

Foster carer Michael smiling in the sunshine with a backdrop of countryside and hills

Sparking the interest

Michael was aware of the impact a loving household can have on the lives of young people who have been removed from the family home for a variety of reasons, because he had grown up in foster care himself. Due to a number of factors, he was unable to have the family he had always desired, so he turned to adoption and fostering.

“Because I was fostered myself, I chose to become a foster carer rather than adopt a child. I spent the majority of my childhood in long-term foster care with the same wonderful carers. I might not have had the amazing opportunities they gave me without them.

“I wanted to give something back to children who needed some much-needed care and stability in their lives because I’m so appreciative of my foster carers and the life path they helped pave for me.”

All about the teenagers

Michael has fostered six children since being approved by the previous agency, including respite care for a sibling pair and an emergency placement. His three longer-term placements have all been teenage boys, one of whom was an unaccompanied child seeking asylum.

“The challenge with teenage boys, particularly older teenage boys, is that they’ll already have their own routines in place by the time they arrive at your house. It’s pointless trying to impose strict rules and routines on them because they’ll rebel and do whatever they want anyway.

“My role is more about incorporating their existing routines in the most beneficial way for them. Rather than attempting to set their path for them, steer them in the right direction. The young people I’ve cared for have been eager to work and earn their own money, which is admirable, but sometimes you have to think ahead. I try to encourage them to continue or return to school, or if they aren’t academically inclined, I try to steer them towards a career path in which they can grow.

“One piece of advice I would give to a potential teen carer is to always keep a supply of food on hand! On my way home from work one day, I bought a box of six Cornettos to share with the family, put them in the freezer, and promptly forgot about them.

“It wasn’t until a couple of hours later I had an ‘Aha’ moment and went down to grab one and let the boys know they were there. But what did I find? An empty box of Cornettos! The boys had eaten every single one of them, typical of boys though and their ferocious appetites!”

Read more on fostering teens in our blog, featuring, one of our foster carers Zhoura, here: Fostering teens: “I’ve never looked back” – Foster Portsmouth

A typical day

“My day as a foster carer has two sides to it, the parenting side and what I call the fostering side. The parenting side is very practical and typical of living with teenage boys.

“You’ve got to make sure they’re up and dressed, a mammoth task at times. Remind them to make sure their phone is charged for the day, making sure they have a meal prepared, pick them up from a friend’s house in the evening, and encourage them to do school or college work.

“The other side is the fostering part. This entails admin work such as daily logs on the young people to complete, meetings with my supervising social worker, making dentist, doctor, and other appointments, and the young people’s social workers visiting them.

“As a relatively new foster carer, I was surprised by how much admin there was, but once you get into a routine it becomes second nature and not a task at all, just something that slots into my day after I finish my full-time day job.”

Open diary laying across keyboard of an open laptop

The appreciation makes it all worth it 

“Teenage boys are often thought of as not expressing or discussing their emotions. But there have been many touching moments between me and the young men I’ve fostered over the years, which makes it all worthwhile and lets me know that I’ve been a positive chapter in their story.

“When one of the boys I looked after turned 18 he moved out. We met up a little while later for a coffee and a chat, and so I could give him some of his post. When I stood up to leave, he stood up and shook my hand. The next time he hugged me, which his social worker and parents said he never did. I was really moved by those gestures.

Could you foster?

More people like Michael, who offers his 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, please contact us.

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