She was 14; she was a foster child in care and got lost while looking for ‘Da’. Our Foster children often used the web chat on our agency website to get help when they needed it; this is how she had come to find me. She required an ‘Angel to guide’ her; therefore, I made it my mission to be the angel she needed. My screen ‘pinged’ with a new chat. The message read…‘Can you help me looking for Da?’
I knew instinctively that this was a child through the simplicity of the question. I assessed that maybe the child was from another area due to her Dad’s calling as ‘Da’? The information on my screen gave me her name, a telephone number and a location where she was calling from. It gave me a start to explore our system to establish if this child was one of ours? I also needed to know if she was safe and where she was to help her? When asked, she replied, ‘You’re not listening to me; no one ever does; I am asking if you could help me looking for Da?’ Instinctively, I wrote back to her. ‘I am listening, and I want to help you; however, I need to know that you are okay. When did you last see your Da?‘
Time stood still, and I waited for her reply…
She didn’t reply straight back to me, and my heart was pounding. Had I scared her by mentioning her Da? After what seemed like an eternity, she came back and told me, ‘I’m OK. I’m at McDonald’s cos my phone works there, and I last saw my Da in the Church’. …(Thank God for McDonald’s free WiFi)!
Our system showed we didn’t have her details on file, so she wasn’t one of our children. Therefore I had to find out whose child she was. I asked her if she had a friend or a teacher I could call? She replied straight back with’ ‘Do you not want to help me?’ ‘Yes, is there anybody that you think might be out looking for you that I can call?’ I asked back. She told me, ‘yes, my best friend ever will be looking for me, my best friend is called Emma.’
Her best friend ‘ever;’ was Emma, her Social worker. I stupidly asked her why she hadn’t called Emma herself? Her reply made me smile, ‘Because I’m on the phone talking to you!’ I suggested to her that I call Emma and get Emma to call her? She gave me Emma’s number quickly because Emma’s phone number was in her head!
The Angel from McDonald’s with the star on her shirt.
The nice lady in McDonald’s who had a ‘star on her blouse’ had given her a drink. She told her that she was the boss and would sit with her while talking to me. She said to her that ‘she was ‘keeping an eye on her’.
Emma’s phone went straight to voicemail, I left a message, and as a result, I told the child a white lie. I said that Emma had no signal and I would keep on trying. In the meantime, could she tell me what school she went to? Would the lady in McDonald’s tell her which shop they were in? She came straight back with the postcode for the McDonalds store. Brilliant. I called Social Services for that area and explained to them the purpose of my call. I shared with them that Emma was her most trusted friend. Did they have an Emma on that number? Was Emma a Social worker? I was beginning to get worried, and perhaps I should have called the police?
She saw the Church and had gone ‘Looking for Da’…
The child was one of their children who had gone missing while ‘Looking for Da’ on a school trip that morning. Everyone was out looking for her, including Emma, her Social worker.
They told me they had been calling the child’s phone themselves, but she wasn’t picking up. I said to them that she’s not very good at multitasking and explained my reasons. Thankfully, their office was only 5 minutes away from the McDonalds where she was in the town centre. Emma had gone straight out to get her and was calling her while running. The call ended; she had gone. And I felt anxious.
The time taken from the web-chat being received to tracking Emma was 20 minutes. At that time, the lady from McDonald’s had been chatting with the child and ‘keeping an eye on her’.
Webchat is a way a child can reach out for help…
Webchat is a way for people to chat with us about foster care and maybe get more information. Recruitment staff are usually not Social workers, and we have no real training in dealing with these calls effectively. We were mostly admin staff in the department I worked in. However, we care deeply about the children who were with our Foster carers. Subsequently, this is the reason why we do the job that we do.
The day went the same as all the other days, and I tried to concentrate on my job. It wasn’t easy. I shared my thanks to all of my colleagues for the support they gave to me. To us, Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is paramount in all that we do. I had a message to call Emma, and she told me a little bit about the child and her journey…
Emma told me that the child had been out on a school trip on the high street with her teacher. They had gone past the church, and shortly after that, the teacher had noticed she was missing. Sadly, the child’s father had recently passed away; he was the child’s sole carer and her younger sister.
Finding a Foster carer with skills to support both children was a challenge…
The child was now 14, and she had a functioning age of 11; she also had developmental delays and learning difficulties. The child had taken on the role of carer for both her Da and her sister. The challenge would be to keep them together, and finding a foster carer with the skills to care for their individual needs would be a problem.
She also told me that a possible family member had come forward and spoke with them. Hopefully, this could mean that the girls could stay within their own family if they were suitable. I hoped so. If there was ever a child who needed an Angel caring for her, it was her!
Angels who guide, keeping their eyes open for children everywhere…
Behind the scenes, there is an army of Angels who guide and support children. We are listening and hearing what they say, and more importantly, what they are not saying. We recognise through behaviour their feelings through our innate empathy, which comes naturally to us.
The woman working at McDonald’s was one of these Angels who guide. She had seen a child on her own at 11.00 am in her school uniform and ‘sensed’ that she needed help. She had kept her ‘eyes open for her’, and above all, she made sure she felt safe.
Many Angels guide out there, quietly observing and keeping their eyes open and often provide a quiet ear to listen without judgment. Sadly, the power of words can cause children to fear, feel threatened, and cause pain. Angels who guide see this and help vulnerable children recover from this abuse with kindness and love.
Giving calmness and love to heal the pain.
These Angels offer a comfortable silence of warmth and love; they are a calm presence of peace and love. They have natural empathy and an innate understanding of how children view the world. The Angels who guide are men and women who never stop caring; they always ‘keeping their eyes out to help a child in need.’ As a result, they are repairing the pain and recreating trust in children to help them heal.
Angels who guide come in many shapes and sizes, and often they are disguised as family, strangers, neighbours and friends. Most importantly, they can be found in the strangest of places, ‘keeping their eyes open, usually when you’re not looking.
Foster carers are Angels; they understand and empathise to support children by giving them a safe and loving home. Verve recruits carers for ‘Not for Profit’ fostering charities who will provide you with Outstanding support networks to support children in care. We need exceptional foster carers; we need Angels who have skills, experience and dedication to repair the hurt that many children have suffered and, more importantly, to be the ones who will make a difference in a child’s life.
If you would like more information about Fostering with Verve and the charities we work with, please get in touch with us on the form below, and we will contact you back.
- Step Down Foster Care is the difference young people need now…
- My Foster Carers gave me a future filled with love.
- ‘Child abuse’, ‘My Mother’ and the ‘Good Hidings’ I lived with until my Social Worker put me in care…
- Children, the ‘big’ things in life and the people who ‘just know!’
- Fostering; Can you open your heart to fostering?