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Five Rivers Fostering - Join A Force For Good PDF Print E-mail

Of all the careers suited to ex-forces personnel, fostering may not be high on the list of good matches: personal qualities such as resilience and team-working make for an excellent employee, but what about empathy and the skills of parenting?

Being a great foster carer needs compassion and a caring attitude, but that must be combined with a firm but fair approach: forces people understand authority and the difference it makes to children who have experienced neglectful parenting without any boundary or discipline. The special skill of the foster carer is to give back the child their childhood through creating a sense of security, while building self-esteem. Many foster carers find it extremely rewarding to see a child’s resistance and hostility change to trust - thanks to patient, kind, yet firm parenting.

Sadly, many children in care have previously been psychologically abused or physically traumatised. This can make them challenging to deal with, but ex-military personnel who have endured conflict-related trauma and come out the other side - with help and support - will know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for anyone who has undergone difficult experiences.

So, what else does fostering have to offer someone leaving military life? How about bonding and a sense of commitment? Foster carers are a body of like-minded people providing a vital service to their community and society at large. Social enterprise Five Rivers Child Care Ltd has been providing care and support for children around the UK for 25 years. They know what foster carers need to feel supported in what can be a tough job.

Head of Fostering Operations David Baker-Price says: “We provide peer support, training, and fun, with an action-packed social schedule and stimulating activities to build team spirit in each of our five locations.”

Does being a foster carer sound good to you? It doesn’t matter if you are married, in a civil partnership, or single, with or without kids, you could still foster. LGBT and all ethnic backgrounds are represented in the range of children we help.

Read our case study about Louise and Anthony to get more insight into the experience of fostering and the training on offer.
For a full information pack for forces personnel, or an initial chat, call the Five Rivers Fostering recruitment enquiry line on 01858 412765 quoting Pathfinder or visit

Anthony and Louise Little, Five Rivers foster carers

Louise and Anthony Little have been fostering since 2012. Anthony is a retained firefighter and they live in Fairford near RAF Brize Norton. The had their own son in 1999 but decided they would expand their family by fostering, as Louise explains: “We felt we had more love to give and wanted other children to benefit from the close-knit ‘village-like’ upbringing that we both had. Five Rivers approved us in May 2012, after a relatively short process, and we had our first placement pretty much the same day. We hit the floor running - I wouldn’t have had it any other way!”

Their first foster child had emotional and learning needs but the family rose to the challenge and moved to a larger house in 2015 to accommodate further children. They now have two foster children alongside their 17-year-old son. “It can be difficult at times,” Louise says, “the children are very different with very different needs - but it works for us and them.”

Since becoming a foster carer, Anthony has retrained as a firefighter - a big life change - but the demands of both jobs combine well. Being on call has a positive impact on his family, he explains: “If my alarm goes off - we have a plan. The guys understand and respond to the fact that they cannot mess around with the process - they know what they have to do and what their responsibility is. It helps them understand the dangers and the consequences to their own actions.”

The children are immensely proud of their dad, and the foster children both want to join the fire service.

Is there something about the forces lifestyle that makes personnel uniquely suited to fostering? Anthony says there is: “Ex-forces can get through to kids who have emotional and social problems. It’s all about empathy - you can understand what it’s like being moved around from one home to another; and you can relate to a child entering your home for the first time. It’s just like when you first joined up and went to training school and had to take in all the rules.”

While fostering is about family life, it’s a professional commitment and one that Louise takes very seriously, crediting Five Rivers with great support: “We have a designated supervising social worker who is with us throughout the process of placement. The training we receive is second to none and although we are classed as self-employed we feel very much part of the company. I feel the ongoing investment in our personal development is essential to the care of the children. It has benefitted me on numerous occasions when dealing with a difficult situation.”

While being a foster carer is sometimes hard, the benefits far outweigh the stumbling blocks for Louise, who says: “I cannot remember my life before we fostered. I love what I do and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Being a foster carer gives me the opportunity to watch little people have the opportunities and enjoyment in life that they deserve.”

Anthony and Louise are enthusiastic advocates for fostering among their own friends around the RAF base. One couple have already signed up and Anthony hopes others will follow: “It would be beneficial for society for more ex-military people to do this - it would make a big difference. Kids need boundaries and stability - and a service person does that most of their life. People in the forces have a lot more to offer to children than they realise. The things you learn about good behaviour - when you apply those principles to dealing with a child - the impact is so much greater. Kids will always go ‘Wow!’ when you tell them what you did. It’s a nice way in!”
Last Updated ( Monday, 15 May 2017 )
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