A Sheffield couple have spoken of the huge ‘rewards’ of taking in a child as they urge others to help address a huge shortage of foster carers.
Indi Bareham and his wife Linda took the plunge and applied to become foster carers after returning from their honeymoon in 2014.
They were paired with 12-year-old Luke in 2015, and say it has been a ‘privilege’ getting to know him and building a strong bond over the last two years.
Indi and Linda opened up about their experience for Foster Care Fortnight - running from May 8-21.
The shortfall of carers stands at more than 9,000 across the UK and 775 in Yorkshire and the Humber, according to The Fostering Network.
Indi, a former plasterer and dad-of-one from Deepcar, said: “The most rewarding thing about caring is that we’ve had the privilege of helping change someone’s life for the better.
“Of course, it can be challenging at times; just like being a parent it’s a 24/7 job that requires a lot of patience and dedication, but the rewards make it all worth it.”
Despite a troubled upbringing and his initial shyness, Luke has blossomed since settling in at his new home, and enjoys football, trips to the cinema and walks with the family’s cockerpoo, Winnie.
The family last year went on vacation to Majorca, where Luke spent most of his time in the pool and learned to dive for the first time.
Indi and Linda, who works in social care, were paired with Luke through the independent fostering agency Five Rivers Fostering, and they praised the training and support they had received.
Indi had lived abroad for more than 11 years in countries including Greece, Israel and Slovakia, and the similarities between the Slovak and Czech languages helped him find common ground with Luke, who hails from the Czech Republic.
Indi said: “My advice to anyone thinking about becoming a carer is that the most important thing to have is commitment. It is time-consuming and at times it can be difficult but with patience and dedication, you can make a real difference.
“Through our time with Luke we’ve gotten to know him and understand what makes him tick. He’s learnt from us and become responsible”
A career in foster care offers benefits including competitive rates of pay and flexible working.
* For more about fostering through Five Rivers, visit www.five-rivers.org or call 01246 642055.
BREAKING: South Yorkshire man hit with hammer, slashed with machete and throttled in armed raid
UPDATE: Sheffield's Crystal Bar 'reviewing security procedures' after woman is raped
Alan Biggs at Large: Why I think Sheffield Wednesday are flying in the right direction under the right type of foreign ownership
Alan Biggs at Large: Ched Evans’ signing is a gamble for Sheffield United - but surely one worth taking
VIDEO: Dramatic dashcam footage captures moment DUCK smashes into car windscreen in Sheffield city centre
Deadly 'zombie drug' Spice seized during raids on South Yorkshire homes
Sheffield brothers who lived lavish lifestyle as kingpins of drug empire are jailed
Sheffield rapist branded 'dangerous' and 'nasty' by police
South Yorkshire drug dealer concealed hundreds of pounds of crack cocaine in a Kinder Egg
Download The Star's mobile app now for FREE