As told to Andrea Warman, NAFP Consultant, and lead for the Looking After Yourself (Yoga) project

‘It’s just over a year since I joined my fostering agency. Me and my partner. Our own kids had grown up and gone, and we were left in this big house. Plenty of space. And wanting to do something. Give something back.....

We run a laid back home. That’s what it looks like. We don’t get into arguments or conflict, we like it to be easy. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t rules and boundaries. No. Things are safe and they go smoothly, and that’s all about finding the right balance. A lot of people might find it hard to get that balance, but it’s something that comes more naturally to us. Maybe because we’ve brought up our own. Done it now and learned from that, and have the confidence....

And that’s why we like looking after teenagers because I think that work is all about the balance. They need some care – of course they do. But they don’t want smothering. They don’t need you in their face. Because they didn’t grow up with you, and mostly they have a family. Even if it’s not perfect and there are good reasons why they can’t live with them. There might still be a connection, even love. And you have to respect that.....

The young woman with us now she’s 15, nearly 16. She’s not in education but the plan is to get her back to school, back to college and maybe university – because she’s capable of that. She’ll be with us ‘till she’s 18, and so our role is to get her ready. Make sure everything is in place, and she has what she needs to get by. Especially being out in the world and mixing with others. To be able to do what other kids do. We’re helping her with that. Doing what we did for our own – but they didn’t even know we were doing it. The things most kids can just take for granted......

I’d be lying if I said it’s always easy. In the house sometimes on your own with all those feelings and emotions. With any teenager it can be hard. That’s why the yoga we’ve been doing at our Centre has been so good. I never realised just how much I would get from it. Just really loved it. Being with other carers. Helping the aches and pains we all get. But more than that just doing something for yourself, and feeling so good....

So when they started a group for the teenagers to try it too I encouraged her to go. And I knew the breathing, the exercises Liz shows you would help. Because like any teenager she gets angry. And probably has more reasons than most to get that way. But the breathing will help to calm you down. It’s something she can learn that will really help. And this week they’re running a workshop too. So the girls will be learning about healthy food and eating well. How to be strong. It all helps...’

National Care Leavers' Week 2014

With thanks to:
ISP
Liz Lark
Scott Wishart (photography)