Fenland couple celebrate 10 years of fostering and are urging others to give it a go
A Wisbech couple have recently celebrated their 10th year anniversary of fostering children and young people.
Kerri, who has a nursing background and Dion Warwick, a firefighter, have for the past decade provided care and a loving home for children and young people with fostering agency, ISP Fostering.
According to local county council reports there are around 759 looked after children and young people in Cambridgeshire alone. The couple hope their decade long experience will raise awareness of fostering and encourage more people to consider becoming foster parents.
After raising their four children from previous marriages, the couple decided they were not done raising children and were "keen on exploring all options" including trying for a child themselves or looking into adoption or fostering.
The Warwicks said it wasn’t until an unexpected conversation on the sidelines at one of their son’s rugby matches that they first started to really consider fostering.
A friendly stranger, now one of the couple’s best friend, Geff, overheard a conversation the couple were having and chimed in to encourage the two to try fostering and the rest has been history.
Kerri said: “After going through the process, you come to realise that certain people are born to be foster parents, but they just haven’t made it to that point yet. It takes just that slight bit of encouragement from someone else to make you realise.”
Reflecting over the past decade, the couple are still in shock at how quickly the time has gone. Kerri said: “It does not feel like 10 years has passed at all, it has flown by. When I sit and think about all the things we have done, the memories we have made, it really hits us. We wouldn’t change it.”
Fostering has its highs and lows. Dion said: “While it may be the greatest day for you that you can help these children, you have to understand that it could also be the worst day for them. So many children don’t realise the impact of their past and watching them come to the realisation of that is the hardest for me. You have to let them process it in their own way.”
The couple added they have found over time that distance makes the heart grow fonder.
Kerri said, “You work so hard to become a foster parent and it’s that thought of letting go and taking respite which was very difficult for me. I know it’s only for a short period, but they are my children at the end of the day, I always want to be with them.”
In total, the couple have cared for 18 children and young people from a range of respite, short-term and long-term placements.
Kerri said: “On our TV we have a rolling picture of all the years, including all the children we have looked after. Each one has shaped our lives in a different way and the memories will always be with us.”
Many of the young people the couple have cared for have been teenagers.
Kerri added: “There is a stigma around teenagers and a sense of over analysing of their behaviours because they are in care, but we have found that teenagers are almost more appreciative of the time and attention they are given."
The Warwicks said in a way the pandemic over the last year has allowed them to grow closer as a family unit: “If there is anything we can do together, we will. Whether that be going for dog walks, movie nights, independent cooking evenings, or even silly things like hiding from the salesman at the door, we really try to make it a group activity. Anything about the ‘togetherness’, the children thrive off it.
“For us it works. I can see it might not work for everybody but to live and breathe it, there is no feeling quite like it.”
ISP is an independent therapeutic fostering agency, which looks after vulnerable children and young people. During the pandemic, ISP has adapted to provide virtual support to their existing and prospective foster parents with home visits and assessments now being conducted virtually.
If you think that you could become a loving family for children, or if you would like to find out more about fostering in general, call the friendly team on 0800 0857 989 or visit www.ispfostering.org.uk for more information.