Capstone Foster Care News

Last month I wrote about the newest addition to our family. Not a child, but a dog; Akira the Siberian Husky. It was quite an emotive piece of writing, so I felt I should lift the mood a little this month by talking about the same subject from a different angle, so here it is.

I’ve always praised Capstone as our fostering agency for the high quality of the training and support they provide. Well, Capstone – you’ve been outdone, because this week, we had to have a session with a Dog Psychologist. Yes, that’s a job.

Please don’t freak out – our dog isn’t a psychopath, but she’s a Husky, and so the similarities are there. Akira is beautiful and friendly and intelligent and happy and energetic… but she is also headstrong, and about two minutes after bringing her home from the shelter, it was very apparent that she had never been trained a day in her fluffy little life. Akira is two years old, and, much like a foster child, we know very little about her past or how that shapes her future, so it’s not like we were ever going to have the ease of training this puppy as an empty vessel.

The Dog Psychologist has been a god-send (or dog-send, if you will), but the person who’s had the most success in training Akira is The Boy. Maybe it’s because he knows what it’s like to come into a strange family home and act, adapt and fit in within new surroundings and existing structures? Whatever the reason, The Boy loves the dog, and in working with her he has shown me one or two lessons along the way in patience! The bond is strong, and I wouldn’t change it.

However, not everyone likes the idea of bringing kids AND pets into the family home. I actually had one person ask me if I was scared the dog would attack The Boy. Yes. I have grave concerns that one day the dog will brutally savage him in the kitchen, and that’s exactly why I’ve left them both unattended at the house with easy access to guns, heroin and bleach.

Any pet, whether already in your home or introduced to your family at a later date, will always pose some element of risk, but it’s about weighing up those risks and managing situations carefully – as you would with any contact your child is going to have. In our family, I’m probably less scared of either Akira or Barry (the cat) hurting The Boy than I am about The Boy hurting himself falling over his own boots at football.

For me, pets add a wonderful dimension to any family. They’re non-judgemental (unless you have a cat), loyal (unless you have a cat) and will happily spend their time making you feel loved (unless you have a cat). The focus of attention on a family pet can do so much. It can diffuse an awkward situation or silence, provide unconditional comfort, and teach a child or young person responsibility for the care of another living being. Yes, a cat will take a swipe at you if you push its boundaries, but this in itself is a life lesson, and despite the comments earlier in this paragraph, cats can be wonderful pets, and kids can learn a lot from their resilience.

I don’t know the exact stats, but there are more kids at risk from their own parents than there are those at risk from a family pet. Why else would we need foster carers? So, if you’re put off fostering because you have a pet, or you’re already fostering but putting off the idea of getting a pet in the future, re-think the situation. Weigh up the risks, be vigilant of them, and then once you have put everything in place to ensure that anyone or anything with two, four or more legs is safe in your loving home, enjoy all the benefits that having a pet can bring to your family.

Oh, and take out insurance on your furniture.

15 year old twins, Callum and Freya Roberts, have climbed two of Britain’s highest peaks, Scafell Pike and Snowdon to raise money for Amigos, a Barnstaple based charity who support Ugandans to work their way out of poverty with dignity.

The hike up Scafell Pike took 9 hours to complete and the climb up Snowdon took 6 hours. The Snowdon ascent was far more challenging as they undertook it barefoot!

Freya said “The Snowdon walk was painful and we have a few bruises on our feet. It was a relief to put our boots on at the summit before the long climb down”

Callum said “We prepared for the challenge by walking barefoot on Exmoor and we applied surgical spirit to our feet for 2 weeks before the climb. We didn’t realise how difficult it would be as the ground was very rough but we are really glad we did it”           `

The twins are students at Pilton Community College and they will be visiting Uganda in October as part of a charitable school trip. They have visited Uganda when they were 10 years old with their parents when they went to meet their Amigos sponsored child and his family. They are looking forward to seeing them again as well as meeting and working alongside students at the Kira Farm Training Centre.

“We have been saving up for ages to pay for the cost of the trip ourselves. We have done this by saving our pocket money, Saturday and holiday job wages, Christmas and birthday money and we have sold lots of our old possessions”

Family and friends have sponsored them to climb the mountains and they have managed to raise £1549 which will go directly to Amigos for the great work that they do. They are still collecting donations on their Virgin money giving page: climb Mount Snowdon

Little Princess TrustFoster carer Sarah, her daughters and foster child have had their hair cut for a charity that creates wigs for children who have suffered hair loss.

They have teamed up with others from their local primary school for the big chop, after a son of a friend, George, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in January 2016. George has suffered with hair loss and his big sister wanted to raise awarenesss by cutting her hair and donating it to The Little Princess Trust. Other families got involved having seen first hand how George’s treatment has affected him and his family.

Families at the school were also compelled to raise awareness when tragically, in February 2016 there was the loss of a much loved parent, Sue Kendall, leaving behind her husband, young family including Jack who attends Woolston Community Primary and many close friends from the area.

The children have stepped forward from Woolston Community Primary School to show support and raise awareness following a difficult 12 months amongst families being directly effected by cancer within the school.

Sarah said: “My own daughters wanted to join in too to help raise awareness and support others affected by cancer, and soon lots of girls from the primary school and some mums were all joining in.”

The group from have so far donated 23 ponytail plaits to provide hair for the wigs.

Sarah added: “This has been a massive achievement and we are personally very proud of Bianka and our girls for this selfless act.”

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