A young woman has spoken about how an inspirational foster carer’s support helped her to turn her troubled life around.
Amelia, not her real name, says the time she spent living with Nic O’Neill helped her deal with long-term emotional and mental health issues.
Nic is one of Leicestershire County Council’s One2One foster carers who offer full-time, intensive and dedicated care and support to young people, aged from 12, who have complex emotional and or behavioural issues.
Leicestershire County Council is now looking recruit more people to these life-changing roles.
They are looking for carers to open their homes and their lives to vulnerable young people and offer the time and support to help them reach their full potential.
Amelia, now in her 20s, went into a one-year placement with Nic when she was 15 and says it transformed her life.
She said: “Shortly before I moved to Nic’s house I spent a year over three admissions in an adolescent psychiatric hospital.
“I just can’t seem to justify with words quite how amazing Nic is.
“How she stuck by me through some really trying times. How she guided but didn’t coerce me. How my opinions always seemed to matter. How Nic listened to me, listened and adjusted conversation to help me realise ideas and concepts that my teenage mind perhaps wouldn’t have realised.
“Nic taught me how to be strong, she taught me that you always have yourself, if nobody else.
“There were times when I’d just want to be alone, untouched and quiet.
“Nic recognised that. She worked out what I needed without asking me, which perhaps seems easy, but I was a very troubled teenager.
“Even I didn’t know who I was, but Nic helped me to find myself.
“Nic taught me practical things too - how to work the washing machine, oven, assemble items.
“Nic provided me with everything I needed without making me feel embarrassed or like a burden.
“Because of the nature of my medical issues, I had a stupendous amount of appointments and meetings that Nic helped me to decide things that I wanted to address.
“There really are so many things that I could mention - tiny things like eating your chips before your burger at McDonald’s because your chips will go cold!
“How I felt so welcome and settled. How, amazingly, while doing everything that I have mentioned and a huge amount more, we created a wonderful bond that we still have now."
Amelia added: “I just wanted to say thank you to Nic, for helping me become the person I am today, and for giving me the best start into independence I could have asked for.
“Every child should have a Nic!”
Nic, who lives near Loughborough, said: “Reading this feedback is incredibly gratifying and validating.
"During the time Amelia was with me it was complex and busy, with many professionals involved and many issues to help her to address.
"She was a pleasure to have and has become part of the family.
"That has meant continuing to support her post-placement when she has struggled to get help from elsewhere.
"I'm proud that I've been able to help her and to have watched her grow into the amazing person and mum that she has become.“
Nic added: “The One2One fostering scheme is both challenging and rewarding. It allows you to use the skills and experience you've
developed as a professional in your home environment, giving the luxury of time that you often don't have as a worker.
“If anyone feels they have the skills and qualities to help young people in difficult circumstances to achieve the best they can, to empower and support them, I'd encourage them to find out more about the scheme.”
One2One Foster Caring is a full-time and well-paid professional role, which is ideally suited to someone with experience in social work or residential work, those who have worked with children and young people, or teachers and teaching assistants who have worked with children and young people with complex and challenging behaviour.
One2One Foster Carers receive from £35,360 plus allowances a year, as well as ongoing training and development, access to regular respite care and round-the-clock dedicated support from Leicestershire County Council.
There are currently more than 600 children and young people in care in Leicestershire, and many of them need extra care and support to allow them to reach their full potential and find their place in the world.Person:Leicestershire County Council's cabinet member for children and families, Councillor Deborah Taylor
If you have the skills and experience needed to be a One2One Foster Carer, we’d love to hear from you.
Anyone who is interested in finding out more or registering interest can do so on Leicestershire County Council's One2One Foster Carers page or by calling call 0116 305 0505.
Find Out About Fostering events are held every three weeks from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, giving potential carers the opportunity to hear from foster carers themselves.
The next event is being held online on Thursday February 24.
More information is available on Leicestershire County Council's foster care pages.