‘ I am extremely proud to be a Fostering Ambassador for Verve’.
Bronagh Howell and I met when she applied with Verve to become a foster carer after answering a Social media campaign. I called her to run through the criteria for fostering and explore her motivation to become a foster carer. It is vital to take the time to find out about people, engage with them, and fully understand them; for me to portray her skills to potential fostering charities. Bronagh was amazing; her personality and warmth shone throughout the phone call; however, her life had not been easy.
Bronagh had placed herself into care when she was 14 years of age after enduring a lifetime of abuse from her mother. She was ‘insight’ of Social Services throughout her childhood who had ‘removed’ some of her siblings; however, no matter how hard she begged to go with them, she stayed. The reason, she found later, was ‘she was seen to be a Good Girl’. Bronagh didn’t ‘kick-off,’ she didn’t cause a fuss, and therefore, they didn’t need to do anything with her; subsequently, she stayed.
Finally, I was placed in care, where my foster parents found me.
You would suspect that after having endured this childhood, that Bronagh may have felt bitter. Not a bit of it; when Social workers finally placed Bronagh in the care system, she subsequently found her foster parents, her angels. With their love and support, Bronagh studied hard at University, gaining a Batchelor’s honours degree in Childcare and Early Education.
I shared with Bronagh my reasons for setting up Verve, and our passion for children in care and children’s services were the same. Inevitably, we formed a strong friendship together; and I was delighted to ask her if she would become a Fostering Ambassador for Verve? Thankfully, she said yes, because, for me, Verve represents women who understand the trauma that children face. We understand the ‘system’ from personal experiences and do not let the past define us.
Bronagh Howell; my story so far…
‘I feel it is vitally important that all children have a secure, safe and loving home, with people who will not only nurture their physical health and wellbeing but support and nurture their mental health and wellbeing.
Supporting children whilst giving safe boundaries, even if this stability is only for a short period, that time may have a significant impact on that child’s life outcome. My foster parents fostered me; therefore, I know how important this is, especially in the long term.
As a child who went through the care system, I am passionate about getting it right for children in care who need foster placements. I was fortunate and had terrific foster parents; however, my experiences as a vulnerable child taught me that ‘trust’ was the one thing that needs earning. Consequently, that takes time and patience, but it’s well worth it because 33 yrs on, I still have my family!’
‘I went on to become a specialist nurse in neonates, a Health Visitor and sexual health nurse until my medical Retirement 3 years ago. Now I guest lecture and do voluntary work with women with mental health problems, and I also help with a wildlife rescue. I have a teenage daughter who has grown up in a very blended family; she knows that blood isn’t the only way to make a family.
‘Children learn by our actions, not by our words.’
Verve Fostering Ambassadors are the change-makers who represent women who have had enough of the way things are for children in care. We know there has to be a better way to help children break free of the bias against them; because it does appear to be a postcode lottery. Their birth does not define children; they are shaped and formed into people by the people who care for us. Naturally, this would be birth parents; however, we know only too well that this often does not appear to be the case. Subsequently, children that have suffered trauma connect with others to share their feelings. Sometimes it works; sometimes, it goes badly wrong when life choices are made that are not in the child’s best interests.
Find out more about Verve…
To find out more about Verve, who we are and what we do, please contact the contact form below. Alternatively, you can read more about Bronaghs story on the following blog https://ververecruitment.org/child-abuse-mother-and-the-good-hidings-i-lived-with-until-social-workers-put-me-in-care/.