She was fourteen and a foster child who became lost while looking for Da with Angels who guide. In my job, our foster children often used the webchat on our agency website to get help when needed. And this is how one child found me. She had lost her Da, and I made it my mission to find the angel she needed.
My screen ‘pinged’ with a new chat; the message read…”Can you help me look for Da?’ I instinctively knew this was a child because of the question’s simplicity. The child came from another area and referred to him as ‘Da’. I needed to know if she were safe and where she was to help her find her Da.
When I asked her if she were safe, she snapped back, ‘You’re not listening to me; no one ever does; I am asking if you could help me look for Da?’ I replied gently, ‘I am listening and 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…
Time stood still as I waited for her to reply to me. My heart was pounding; had I scared her by mentioning her Da? After an eternity, she replied, ‘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 Wi-Fi)!
She told me her name and where she lived. However, our system showed we didn’t have her details on file; she wasn’t one of our children. I needed to learn more about her and asked if she had a friend or teacher I could call.
She snapped again, ‘Do you not want to help me?’ So, I gently said, ‘Yes, is there anybody you think might be looking for you that I can call?‘ Immediately, she replied, ‘yes, my best friend ever will be looking for me; my best friend is 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 child told me about the lovely lady in McDonald’s, with a ‘star on her blouse’ who had given her a drink. She said, this lady is the boss and is sitting with her while talking to me; ‘she was ‘keeping an eye on her.‘
I had called Emma, and her phone went straight to voicemail; I left a message and told the child a half-truth. I said that Emma had no signal and I would keep on trying. However, 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 Mcdonald’s store. Brilliant.
I called Social Services for that area and explained the purpose of my call. I shared with them that Emma was the child’s most trusted friend; did they have an Emma on that number? Was Emma her social worker? I was getting worried; maybe I should have called the police.
She saw the Church and went to Look for Da.
The child was one of the foster children with the Local Authority and had gone missing as she went ‘Looking for Da’ on a school trip that morning. Everyone was out looking for her, including Emma, her social worker.
The woman I spoke to told me they had been calling the child’s phone themselves, but she wasn’t picking up. I told them she’s not particularly good at multitasking and explained my reasons. Thankfully, their office was only 5 minutes away from the Mcdonald’s where the child was. Emma had gone straight out to get her, calling the child whilst running; they said they would call me and update me later. The call ended; she had gone. And I felt anxious.
The time from the web chat being received to tracking Emma was 20 minutes; all the time, the lady from McDonald’s was 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 get more information. Recruitment staff are usually not social workers, and we have no real training in dealing with these calls effectively. We were admin staff in the department I worked in, but we care deeply about the children with our foster carers. It is why we do the job that we do.
The day continued the same as usual; I tried to concentrate on my job, but it wasn’t easy. I shared my thanks to my colleagues for supporting me on the call. We are a good team; safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is paramount in all that we do. Finally, I had a message to call Emma, and she told me a bit about the child and her journey…
Emma told me the child had been on a school trip on the high street with her teacher. They had gone past a church, and shortly after, the teacher 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 fourteen, and she had a functioning age of eleven. The child also had developmental delays and learning difficulties and had taken on the role of carer for both her Da and her sister. The challenge would be to keep them together. However, finding foster carers with the skills to care for each of their needs might be a problem.
She also told me that a family member had come forward, and she had spoken with them. Hopefully, this could mean that the girls could stay within their own families if suitable; I hoped so. If a child ever needed an Angel caring for her, it was her!
Angels who guide, keeping an eye open for children everywhere…
Behind the scenes, an army of Angels guides and supports children. They listen and hear what children say and, more importantly, what they are not saying. They recognise their feelings through our innate empathy; it comes naturally to them.
The woman working at McDonald’s was an angel who guide. She saw a child on her own at 11.00 am in her school uniform and ‘sensed’ the child needed help. She had kept her ‘eyes open for her,’ and she made sure she felt safe.
Sadly, words can cause children to fear, feel threatened, and cause pain. Angels who guide, know and help vulnerable children recover from abuse with kindness and love. Many Angels guide and quietly observe, keeping their eyes open and often providing a soft ear to listen to children without judgment.
Foster carers create calm to heal children’s hurt.
These angels offer a comfortable silence of warmth and love. They have natural empathy and an innate understanding of how children view the world. The Angels who guide are people who never stop caring and always watch help a child in need.’ As a result, they repair the pain children suffer and create a trust to help children heal from trauma.
Angels who guide come in many shapes and sizes. They are often disguised as family members, strangers, neighbours, and friends. Also, they are usually found in the strangest places, as they keep their eyes open; usually when you least expect them.
Foster carers are Angels who guide. Foster carers understand, empathise, and support vulnerable children with safe and loving foster homes. We need exceptional foster carers; we need Angels with the skills, experience, and dedication to repair the hurt many vulnerable children in care have suffered. More importantly, we need foster carers to be the ones who will make a difference in a vulnerable child’s life.
Contact us on the form below if you want more information about becoming a foster carer and the Not-for-Profit charities we work with. We will contact you and arrange an informal chat; there’s no cost or commitment. Just honest advice on the fostering role and the process of becoming a foster carer.
Together, we can all keep an eye on vulnerable children and keep them safe. Can you foster?
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