From teddies to foster care
I wanted to do something and give our time to children, in situations they have no control over, and a make a difference short term,” says Lisa.
Starting with teddies and backpacks
Lisa (pictured left) says she always knew she wanted to foster however being a working mum with a busy family life, she wasn’t sure if it was something she was able to commit to. In 2010 Lisa saw an article in her local paper about the not-for-profit agency, Foster Hope. At the time they were looking for volunteers to collect teddies for children in care, and Lisa knew this was one way she could make a difference.
Foster Hope’s CEO Louise Allnutt (pictured right) says the teddies became so popular that they soon decided to expand their work to pulling together backpacks full of supplies and their volunteers are an invaluable part of the team in pulling these together. “Talking to foster carers they often say children arrive with nothing, so the pack includes a few things to get them through the first few days like toiletries and nappies,” she says.
Volunteering leads to further commitment
After volunteering as a donations drop-off coordinator for a number of years, Lisa says she decided she wanted to do more, and signed up with the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki (Child, Youth and Family at the time) to provide respite and emergency care.
“We have a busy life, with six [now adult] children between Anthony and I, and four grandchildren, but I wanted to do something and give our time to children, in situations they have no control over, and a make a difference short term,” says Lisa. “When I was a teenager, my mum had health issues, and we were passed around family quite a bit and at one stage, we did end up in foster care - short term.”
Giving something back
This feeling that Lisa was able to relate to a child coming into care, Lisa says is one of her motivations to become a caregiver. The children call her Nanny, “the name my grandchildren use,” and her family are her biggest support network. Lisa and her partner, Anthony, have cared for eight children since they became foster carers 18 months ago.
"We get together for family meals a lot and they all pitch in and help whenever we need it."
What makes it all worthwhile
Lisa admits it can be hard to say good bye when it’s time for a child to leave, “but you just have to remember the reason you do it is to make a difference for that child and to be there and help them through a difficult time.” Watching them grow and seeing the little changes and interactions when they become settled into a routine is what makes it all worthwhile, she says.