There are many different types of fostering. Short break foster care (or respite care) includes different types of part-time care, and allows birth parents or full-time carers a “break” for short periods of time. Read how Asa spent time with Helen through respite care and how the experience has changed his direction in life.
Asa is a happy and bright 22 year old young man living in Hove. He has Autism Spectrum Condition and thanks to support from Team Domenica, a Brighton charity supporting young people with learning difficulties, he’s now building a career in hospitality, and has completed work experience in Brighton hotels, including The Grand and Hotel du Vin.
But just a few years ago, things weren’t looking so bright. As a teenager, Asa was struggling in his relationship with his mum and spending a lot of time in the virtual world.
Both mum and Asa needed some support. Thanks to Barnardo’s Family Link Plus in Brighton and Hove, they were put in touch with Helen, a local contract carer. Asa started spending some nights at Helen’s house, to give him a change of scene, and his mum some rest.
“When I first met Helen, I didn’t want respite care,” says Asa. “I was very unsettled for my first overnight stays, you are literally staying in a stranger’s house. Although I was still quite young, I understood it was to give my mum a break.” But he soon began to relax. It just took “…more time and finding out that Helen wasn’t scary after all!”
Today Asa credits Helen with changing the direction he was heading in life.
Helen helped Asa in all kinds of ways. She filled in the gaps in his education and helped him develop key life skills. She even showed him how to tie his own tie for his first work placement!
“I learn something every day with Helen,” Asa says, crediting her “wisdom and experience”. Crucially Helen has been able to fill the gap in services and support, by helping with the soft skills like college applications and benefit enquiries. Without people like Helen, families and young people are all too often left on their own and miss out on opportunities and vital support.
Asa is upfront about how Helen has supported him with developing positive strategies to understand and manage his own mental health. He sees that he is a lot less “snappy” and has good insight in to how best to manage his feelings of anxiety. It was thanks to Helen that he found out about Team Domenica and she encouraged him to apply for work placements.
Even though Asa has now left Barnardo’s Link Plus service, he still visits Helen and continues to grow and develop. Thanks to Helen, Asa is now learning to drive.
The bond between Asa and Helen is clear to see – there is a warmth and enjoyment in each other’s company and Asa describes Helen now as part of his extended family. The relationships formed in foster care are enduring and often go beyond the end of the service.
Asa agrees that the world needs more people like Helen. “Caring is not an easy job,” he says. “Carers need to be down to earth and dedicated. They also need patience, but the rewards are huge!”
If you are interested in starting your journey to becoming a foster carer, whether that's short or long term fostering, we'd love to hear from you. Complete our fostering enquiry form to speak to someone about fostering.