A Fostering Journey
9th March 2022
Pauline Rayner and her husband Barry have been HSC NI foster carers since 2013. They live in a tranquil rural setting between Armagh City and Loughgall village and after their three sons left home as young adults they set about filling their lives (and empty rooms) with children and young people who needed foster care.
Pauline said: “Looking back on the last nine years we have really enjoyed caring for babies right through to teenagers. We’ve also cared for sibling groups of differing ages and appreciate how important it is, if possible, to keep brothers and sisters together in foster care.”
Pauline and Barry take pride in how they have made a difference in the lives of the children and young people they have cared for. The rewards have been immense and have outweighed any of the challenges they experienced. As parents living in a rural setting they often had the feeling of “always being on the road” transporting their own children to various activities when they were growing up and this has continued with the young people they currently care for.
In the early years of their fostering career, Pauline and Barry really enjoyed the experience gained from fostering children who were in need of a short term foster home. They appreciated how short term care allows for children and young people to return to their families and younger children who could not return home were placed with their new adoptive families.
Pauline and Barry’s previously busy, bustling house has now become a more settled home for three young people aged 16+ years. These young people are being cared for on a longer term basis until they reach the age where they can live independently. “We also have a young grandson who loves to visit us and fits in perfectly with the young people we care for,” said Pauline. The couple’s focus now is helping these young people to learn life skills, like budgeting, food shopping, cooking and taking care of their health. One of the young people that they cared for was a young refugee from Romania. She has now been reunited with her parents and has kept in contact with Pauline and Barry. Fostering a young refugee was a new and interesting experience which required them to develop their own knowledge and skill set.
Barry said: “It has been a pleasure to get to know and help all the special children and young people we have cared for. They have greatly enhanced our lives, and we really appreciate the support and encouragement we have received from our sons, wider family network and friends. We have also been supported by our supervising social worker and have attended numerous training courses, all of which have been instrumental in helping us over the years.”
If you have been thinking about fostering, why not take the next step and get in touch with HSC NI Foster Care on 0800 0720 137 or visit adoptionandfostercare.hscni.net. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter