27 March 2019

Foster Focus

Foster_Focus_main

Result CIC talks to Luke Rodgers who is the founder of Foster Focus, an organisation which provides children's services opportunities to grow and improve by involving young people.

What inspired you to start Foster Focus?
I was brought up in care, this is the root of my decision to set up the social enterprise. 

I started off by sharing my experiences with foster carers with the focus on providing them with stories about how foster carers helped me, even at times when I seemed to be beyond help. Foster carers work each day to communicate with children who may be struggling with there own emotions, they may feel that they cant have relationships and often don’t believe that they are lovable. This can be a challenging thing for a foster carer as every day they try to show love and care to children, and sometimes those children are not ready to receive this.

Children see and hear everything but sometimes they struggle to feel. Foster carers who communicate with warmth, love and good intention will always transmit emotion which young people will feel. However sometimes it takes until a child leaves care to look back and realise that people did care about them. This leaves children with a sense of regret as they wished they had listened earlier, and foster carers often feel they have failed children, thinking that didn’t get though to them at the time.

I wanted to start Foster Focus to share stories about these moments, where foster carers spoke with warmth, love and good intention and how these messages echo into the future and present themselves to children when they need them to progress and move forward with their lives.

We are a sector that’s dominated by negative stories of children in care and fostering. I wanted to bring real stories about how relationships, with the all of their ups and downs, can transform a child’s perspective of themselves and as a result of this affect their lives in the most positive way.

What are you most proud of?
People always ask me this question and it always makes me think of the personal transition I’ve had to make to become the person that is able to achieve easily.

I’ve been on an inward journey. As a child in care I felt that I was unable to achieve, that I was unlovable and lacked in confidence (even though I seemed extremely confident). I had to make some huge changes to the way I behaved, the life choices I made and make decisions that were healthy. Whilst I was in care I did none of this.

I think for me the thing that gives me the most pride is this transformation to becoming stable emotionally, psychologically healthy and physically well.

What challenges have you experienced along the way?
I experience the same challenges that I’ve always experienced, being a care leaver and the stigma that comes with this.

We see stigma as a dirty word and often focus on the negative judgements people have placed on people. However their is another side to this that isn’t often spoken about, its how people hold you back unintentionally because they care and want to protect you.

You have two types of people who play into stigma, those who judge negatively and destructively and those who are compassionate and protective. 

We know that the negative and destructive judgment causes barriers, discrimination and is just not nice, we know about this all too well. But what about those who are compassionate and protective, as I've found this to be my challenge.

You can’t really affect me with negative judgement because I’m sharp enough to point you out on it and on occasion have been known to be fiery, this I need to work on but I just really dislike ignorant judgement. What I face however is people who try and protect me because of my care experience, they will limit my exposure to things to protect me, they will assume I need more support that I think because they care about my emotions. The kind of people who will say ‘are you sure you're ok about doing this?’, ‘I’m worried that working with these young people that it's close to your experiences’ and so on. These people are lovely and protective, but sometimes it prevents me from being given opportunities and this can become a barrier to work.

Its important for me that I build balanced relationships with clients and colleagues that are professional but also emotional, not the emotional where people fear a bounty is crossed but the one where they understand me as a person, value my ability as a professional and respect my experiences from my emotional level.

What would you say to a young person who may be struggling?
It depends because each young person is different and you can communicate on different levels dependent on who is in front of you, this is the beauty of people.

I think what I would project on to all young people is that they are safe, they are loved and this struggle like all things will pass. I would let them know that they have someone they can speak with outside of the working hours of 9-5pm. I would do something with them that they enjoyed, I wouldn’t give up if a young person didn’t give me a positive emotional response to my warmth. I wouldn’t be scared of any emotion the young person would show me, I wouldn’t be offended to any projections that place on me and I would be constantly present, loving and open to them.

What exciting new ideas are you working on?
My latest project is a non-profit social enterprise called The Care Leader Fellowship where we are offering 10 young people a fellowship programme that provides then with a 12 month training offer in social enterprise, a coach to help them develop an idea for social change and linking them up with some of the most innovative and creative social enterprises in the UK.

The aim is that by the end of the fellowship we will have 10 young people, with 10 ideas and these will become their own non-profit social enterprises.

Visit the Foster Focus website to find out more.

 
 
 
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Result CIC works with charities and social enterprises to offer low cost coaching and training to inspire their clients to work on the beliefs which are stopping them going forward in life. Result CIC is dedicated to reaching members of the community who do not normally have the opportunity to receive such training and coaching.  

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