Sharon Telfer
Sharon Telfer has looked after 14 foster children over 18 years

Foster mum Sharon Telfer has been shouted and sworn at, had a bedroom trashed and worried about a runaway child - but would do it all again.

The 56-year-old, from Earl's Court, west London, has been fostering for 18 years and has looked after 14 children.

She is currently looking after a 15-year-old foster child.

Ms Telfer, who has two adult daughters and grandchildren, said it was her own experience with depression that inspired her to foster.

"I saw how people were treated when they were ill and that's when I realised I wanted to help people who weren't supported, to advocate for them," she said.

"In a way (depression) kind of helped me to understand and help others."

According to The Fostering Network, there were more than 57,000 children in England living with foster families on 31 March 2022.

The charity said thousands of new foster families were needed every year.

Ms Telfer began fostering after a friend, also a foster parent, suggested it.

When she met with recruiters in 2006 she said she immediately felt a pull.

"I thought, this is what I want to do. Kids and animals are my passion," she said.

Her first foster child, a teenage girl, arrived six months later.

:Sharon Telfer with her current foster child
She is currently looking after a 15-year-old foster child

Over the years, Ms Telfer has challenged social workers, sheltered toddlers and been a mother to them all - all while working and raising her own family.

She has had a bedroom wrecked, toddlers screaming in her ears, been sworn and shouted at, a seven-year-old who refused to sleep and spent hours worrying about a placement who tried to run away.

"Don't come into fostering thinking it's all fairytales," she said.

"You need to come with a blank slate. Every child is different. You can't think any one child is the same. You're setting yourself up for failure if you do that."

Sharon Telfer with her 15-year-old Jack Russell Mia in the kitchen.
Ms Telfer, pictured with her 15-year-old Jack Russell Mia, says "kids and animals are my passion"

Ground rules are a must. She tells every child who walks through her door to be honest and be happy.

The bonds she has formed with her placements are what has kept her fostering, she explains.

She has been invited to birthdays, births, is sent messages and photos, and gets called mum.

Ms Telfer has called the fulfilment she gets "unparalleled".

But after almost two decades of fostering would she do it all again?

"Without a doubt," she said


From BBC




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