The view of Narnia
I’m on a journey into foster caring. This journey of mine is a little different from the norm. For me, it’s a bit like the C.S.Lewis book, ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’ For those who are unfamiliar with the story,the main character, Lucy, stumbles upon a whole new world on the other side of a wardrobe she is hiding in. The world she ends up in, Narnia, is full of new, life-changing things to discover. The way, of course, is littered with potential pitfalls and dangers. Lucy enters Narnia for the first time on her own before eventually taking her family with her in the form of her brothers and sister. Together they are shaped by the events of the story and eventually they thrive.
As I write this very first blog, I’m probably in that place that Lucy found herself in near the beginning of the book: I’m in the wardrobe, with one hand parting the row of coats, aware that the air on the other side is different: fresher, bracing, compelling. My fingers have brushed that first fir frond that tells me there is a new world to discover on the other side. You see, I’ve been working at Eastern Fostering Services (EFS), an independent fostering agency, for about 2 years now. During this time, I have very much been on this side of said wardrobe, but it’s been a wardrobe with a view.
Let’s rewind a minute.
I’m Lucy and I have 2 boys and a husband. In the days before this rather messy, rather boy-heavy, at times rather smelly but equally rather wonderful existence, I worked for various small businesses, helping them to grow.
When we had the boys, my husband and I decided that I would stay at home while he worked in the city. I loved every minute of this but as someone who likes to be busy, I knew that I had to use that time wisely. I started to write. Then I did a writing degree. Then I wrote some more. Once both boys went off to school, I started to run creative writing and story telling classes for the children at their school. Soon I knew that I wanted to do this for children who didn’t necessarily have all the opportunuites that these kids did. Around the same time I was asked by someone I knew well, who runs EFS, if I would consider being on their Panel. I was delighted to accept.After I had been doing this for a while, I asked if I might run some storymaking sessions with the agency’s looked after children. EFS is a highly creative, child-centred agency and they were delighted to have another form of direct children’s work. So effectively I had 2 hats: panel and direct children’s worker. After about a year, my husband decided he could no longer stand to work in the city (who can blame him) and opted for a PhD in plant science instead (as you do). As providence would have it, this was the exact time that EFS asked me if I would be willing to put on one more hat. They employed me to help them recruit foster carers.
Now, EFS is a small agency and as Sister Sledge once declared: we are family. We all muck in and we all share in the ups and downs. Throughout my time at EFS, I have built relationships with the children, the carers and the EFS staff. I have felt both the elation and the heartache of these 3 groups. I’ve seen fostering families flourish. I’ve seen children happy and settled. I’ve listened as carers have bared their deepest fears for the children in their care. I’ve laughed with our social workers and cried with them too. I’ve seen frightened children. I’ve seen exhausted carers. I’ve seen how tough it is for everyone concerned. I’ve been furious. I’ve been sad. I’ve whooped for joy. At times I’ve been unable to think of anything else. In short,I’ve fallen in love with this bold, new world.
And so I’m heading through the wardrobe into Narnia. The Stevens’ have decided to foster. Lucy made her first foray into Narnia on her own. After 2 years of gazing, open-mouthed between the coats, this Lucy is going with her family at her side. And you’re invited too. Every step of the way.