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"It's all you can do, give them all of your heart": Galina's story

Monday 23 November 2020
Portrait of Galina, a foster carer with Action for Children

Fostering is something that Galina and Vilnis have wanted to do since they moved to England. Galina waited two years to improve her English before approaching Action for Children about fostering

Galina said, “Me and my family moved to England from Latvia so I didn’t speak much English at the beginning, and I didn’t understand much. But I was always thinking about fostering. I saw an Action for Children advertisement on the internet and applied, I was contacted straight away by the team.”

The couple have five children, three were young and living at home at the time. Galina said, “We’re a big family and find it really easy to attach to children and open up our house. My family is so welcoming, so we never worried too much about new children coming in. I worried about my language barrier at the beginning, because it’s so important that you can speak to children and that they understand you. But in reality, it wasn’t a problem for us.

Age isn't the important part for us. We always talked to our social worker about the child's needs and if my family can help them.

Galina

“When we first started fostering, we didn’t mind about the age. Whether they were very little children or teenagers, the age isn't the important part for us. We always talked to our social worker about the individual child’s needs, and if my own children and family can help them. So, age was never considered, only the individual child, and every child is different.

“The first young man I looked after was such a lovely boy. And once I got started, I could see that I could be a good foster carer. Sometimes you don’t need to talk so much, you just need to do. It's important that you’re aware of what your face is telling the child, the tone of your voice, your reactions and your actions matter, it’s not just about language.”

Teenage boy laughing

Galina and Vilnis have fostered 10 teenagers, with some children choosing to stay on past the age of 18.

Galina said, “I have seen the benefits in lots of children who have stayed with us after they’ve reached 18, because sometimes they don’t have much life experience, they’re not ready to live by themselves.

“We’ve had a young man stay with us for five years, he’s 23 now. We’ve been supporting him to get a part-time or voluntary job. It helps when I sit down and look for jobs first. Then together we talk through how he feels about each one and if he thinks he could do it. It's about encouraging them every step of the way, until they’re confident enough to do it on their own.

It's about encouraging them every step of the way, until they’re confident enough to do it on their own.

Galina

“For me the best part of being a foster carer is seeing a smile on their face. Because when they first come to your home they are scared, worried, stressed and sometimes even shaking. With each week that goes past, you start to see smiles appear on their faces. You feel very proud about yourself as a foster carer, because you made that smile happen. You made them feel welcome and safe.

“My advice to anyone thinking about fostering is: Don’t be scared, just do it. You can help, together we can all help lots of children be part of a family. You might worry about how you’ll manage. Just give them your love and everything will be fine.”

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