The COVID19 pandemic has impacted us all, touching on every aspect of our daily lives. Through-out this period young people have continued to come into the care system and so the need for foster carers has also continued. This has meant the fostering recruitment team, like everyone, have needed to adapt to new ways of working to continue raising the awareness of fostering and to ensure the recruitment process continues for those wanting to become foster carers.

Many people have been using this time to evaluate their situation and look at ways they could change their job and the way they work. With working from home, generous financial allowances and ongoing training many are realising fostering is a great option. Fostering is not only incredibly rewarding but can be a professional career choice you can build on. But how have the team managed to reach those deciding to take that first step?

Community and word of mouth is a major way for us to get the message out and it has been incredible to see these communities move online and with the same dedication help spread the fostering word. Rather than become unused, community centres have become a busy hub for everything from food banks to information hot spots.

The team have also been very busy on social media with our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites showing lots of interesting posts about all things fostering. The information sessions have also now moved away from the Town Hall to Facebook Live and have seen our foster carers get involved to give their first hand experience. We have collected a great library which means you can now attend all our past sessions too!

While recruitment moves online the assessment stage is far more physical. Many challenges we are now all familiar with; meetings come with technological booby-traps and kitchens and bedrooms have become offices. This battle for space has impacted the rest of our family, especially children and we have all seen someone glide across the background of a meeting!

But for a team which guides applicants through an extremely personal assessment process, the distance has made it harder to connect and discuss any difficulties of the past. Physically being in a room with a person is different to talking over a video call with many of the complex personal signals of communication lost.

But drawing on experience and training as well as the unlimited patience of the applicants the team have navigated these challenges. The virtual visits require extra vigilance and simplified communication but they have been successful. We are all now more aware of how we communicate and are more understanding and careful in our everyday interactions.

Recruitment is still a big ask but with us all slowly getting more comfortable with our new way of life we are able to make sure your fostering journey can continue successfully.