BEING IN full-time work has not stopped Richard Smith from Ashfield taking on the extra role of fostering with his wife Janet.
The couple, who have three children of their own, decided to share their home and their precious time with children who need their help.
Now with their youngest being 16, they have learnt to juggle their own family commitments and work with fostering children.
“It’s always difficult but you have to accept you can’t please everybody all the time and compromises have to be made,” explained Janet, who up until recently worked part-time.
“But we still have a lot of love and care within us that we wanted to pass on.”
The Smith family have accepted seven children on full-time foster placements and provided respite care for a further seven over the past five years.
Richard’s shift work as a prison officer has given the family flexibility and his employers have been very accommodating.
The couple have received support not only from social services but their own family including Richard’s dad who grew up in a residential home.
“He speaks to the children about his own experiences and has real empathy for their situation,” added Janet who went to school with a lot of children in care which acted as a motivation for her becoming a foster mother.
“Opening our home to others has made us closer as a family and has opened up my dad’s heart and mind about his past,” added Richard.
Knowing they make a positivecontribution to the children’s lives makes the sacrifices worthwhile for the Smiths.
“We are not super special people we just get on with it but your heart has to be in it,” added Janet. “When a child comes to stay with us, at first you presume they can do the same as your own kids but this isn’t always the case.
“They perhaps can’t read but by investing the time and effort you can soon see the results and also their improved confidence .”
Both would encourage others to foster too and Richard has even got a few of his colleagues interested by spreading the word at work.
“More children need help from families like ours so don’t think you can’t - just make the call and try.”