24 year old care leaver from Essex helps promote fostering


“I look back on my time in foster care with Derrick and Rachael with a lot of happy memories.” Michael, a foster care leaver from South Essex, helps promote Foster Care Fortnight

A young adult who credits his foster carers in helping him get to where he is today is encouraging more people to come forward and foster as part of a campaign run by Essex County Council during Foster Care Fortnight from 9th to 20th May.

23-year-old Michael from Basildon in Essex was in foster care for 9 years from the age of 9 – 18 years. He says: “They made me feel like I had a home with them, I was just like everyone else. I had that stability and safety, which many people take for granted, and it’s those little things that make such a big difference.

“They helped me become more confident and come out of my shell a lot more and just helped me open up as a person. They made me feel seen and heard. I could talk to them about anything, and it wouldn’t faze them, they just listened and supported me.”

Michael fully credits his foster carers Derrick and Rachael for supporting him and giving him a home, something that so many take for granted.

“Now I’m living on my own and I have a good job that I enjoy in telecoms, I look back at my time in foster care and I smile. It’s full of so many happy memories and I know how lucky I am to have been fostered by Derrick and Rachael. They are my family.”

Derrick and Rachael, who are also from Basildon, have been fostering for 31 years and 9 years respectively and have fostered many young people long term to help set them up for the future.

“For Every child that comes into our home, we support them and hope to set them up to become an independent person and look after themselves. Most children come to us between the ages of 10–13 and stay with us until they are 18 years old.

“Caring for children until they move out and become independent allow us to really make a difference and see them into adulthood. We helped one young person move into their own place last year and we are planning on doing the same with our other young person who has learning difficulties in a couple of years’ time.”

There are 1,100 children in care and Essex County Council is urging more people to consider fostering because more foster carers are needed to offer part-time and full time fostering. Foster carers can be single, married, from the LGBTQ +community or retired

Essex County Council offers all foster carers excellent local training with an active network of support groups providing opportunities to meet and learn from other foster carers. It also offers 24/7 local support, a dedicated social worker and access to clinical psychologists.

Cllr Beverley Egan, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Early Years at Essex County Council, said: “We need more people to consider fostering to help children and young people become confident and independent.

“Our foster carers provide a safe, stable, and nurturing home environment to hundreds of young people across Essex every year, which helps them prepare for independent living.

“The support provided by Essex County Council enables our foster carers to follow their passion and make a real difference to a young person’s life.” 

Michael highlights how important it is for foster carers to just be there for their foster children and how Derrick and Rachael did this for him.

“Knowing they are on the end of the phone and that I have a place to call home when you haven’t had a home or a family before, is all you need as a foster child. You need love, you need stability, and you need someone to be in your corner.”

Derrick and Rachael are encouraging anyone thinking about fostering children or young people to pick up the phone and enquire.

“We love fostering, it does come with its challenges, but that’s why we do it. We want to help children who haven’t had the same opportunities as ours did.

“They’re all part of our family and when they tell us they’ve got that job they wanted, or they’ve got into the University they wanted, we feel so proud of them. We know that it’s down to our support, that we are making that difference and helping them grow up and set them up for the future.”

Find out more by visiting https://bit.ly/ECCfostering or call 0800 801 530. 

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