Fostering Anniversary! A landmark year reached at Rainbow

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Fostering Anniversary! A landmark year reached at Rainbow

Fostering can be incredibly rewarding for everyone involved. This is especially true as we enjoy marking our 22nd Anniversary. Another milestone in Rainbow’s history. Over the last two decades, Rainbow has dedicated itself to recruiting, training and supporting foster carers who; through their dedication and commitment, have changed the lives and prospects of a great many young people. Along the way, their lives have been transformed – as have the lives of our foster carers. And this is what makes fostering so unique. The journey’s we have all shared together means our carers and young people can hopefully look toward brighter futures. 

Everyone at Rainbow would like to thank all our carers – past and present – who have made such an incredible contribution over the years. As we celebrate this special occasion, we are mindful that we are doing so in what has been one of the most difficult and challenging years we have all had to face. An unprecedented year: the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on every aspect of daily life for everyone – whatever we do. As we celebrate, we salute the nation’s key workers who have made tremendous sacrifices on behalf of us all. So we say a heartfelt thank you! 

The need to find loving and secure homes for vulnerable children has not gone away during this troubling time. Indeed, as we emerged from the first lockdown and children returned to school, the scale of the problem has begun to emerge. And now we are coming out of a second lockdown. More foster carers and homes will be needed as never before. This has made the work of recruiting new carers for Team Rainbow even more pressing. 

Our Anniversary comes at the end of an unprecedented year.

Virtual home visits have been arranged and zoom meetings have meant we have been able to maintain support networks for our foster carers. This has been a collaborative effort which has drawn us closer together as a fostering community. The team at Rainbow has embraced new ways of working and we will hopefully see these bear fruit. In so many ways they already have. We have worked to provide online training opportunities along with webinars and access to national support groups – and these activities are continuing. This year difficult decisions have had to be made along with a range of unprecedented measures. And these all had to be carefully considered. How would our carers feel not seeing their families; not having face-to-face contact with their supervising social worker; not being able to continue training? Most of all we were concerned about how best to provide continued support. For the staff, we had to make the changes to enable them to work remotely as efficiently as possible. Because the agency

benefits from flexible and advanced IT – combined with ‘in-house’ expertise – working from home did not present too many problems. Early on, our Rainbow ‘IT Champion’, Aly, helped set up Skype so online meetings were possible. This meant we could maintain contact with our foster carers, staff members and carry out Supervisory Virtual Home Visits. We judged it essential that

nothing impeded the application process for new foster carers. Much of this was and still is, a learning curve. But the feedback we have had has been very encouraging. In the beginning, we had no idea how long this situation would last. It has proved to be months. Hopefully, the end is in sight, but we are still maintaining high levels of vigilance.

Applauding the efforts of our foster carers and Team Rainbow 

During the lockdown, our staff remained working for home. Children were also kept at home confined indoors. This was a challenging time, to say the least, with staff and foster carers trying to juggle arrangements for homeschooling and virtual family contact. This was on top of managing all the worry and stress caused by daily news reports from around the world about the

pandemic. Throughout this emotionally difficult time, we listened to your struggles, your achievements and all the positive stories. It was heartwarming to learn of the love, trust and care that were strengthening relationships every day throughout this ordeal. There have been times during the lockdown that we have all needed to be there for each other.

Every cloud has a silver lining: by using technology we have created new ways to communicate. This has been challenging as well as exciting. We have been able to connect with children and young people across the UK. Young people have acquired learning and gained confidence through the use of technology. We have made new friends and added to our knowledge. If there is another single word that has impressed itself on our minds as much as ‘unprecedented’ has during the pandemic, it is ‘sharing’. For that is what we have all learned to do. Experiences of the lockdown, ideas, stories, art, poems, music, homework and so much else relating to family life have been widely shared. Our virtual holiday clubs have been a huge success. Witnessing the positive outlook shown by everyone has been life-affirming. The irony; and in many ways it is a delightful one, is as we have been forced to stay apart, we have in other new ways been drawn closer together. As our Registered Manager, Kim says – 

“These unprecedented times have left us all feeling incredibly proud of the optimism and dedication showed by every member of our Rainbow family. We have all found different and imaginative ways of coping. Strengths in ourselves and others have been identified. Our knowledge base and skills – especially in relation to the use of digital technology – have come on leaps and bounds. And at every stage of this extraordinary journey, we have cared for each other physically and emotionally with a sensitivity I shall never forget. Uncertainties remain but I and the directors wish to reassure everyone of our continued commitment and vigilance. We still need to exercise caution so every visit will continue to be rigorously planned and assessed, both for the member of staff and everyone in your household.” 

The technology and working practices we have had to introduce can never replace face-to-face contact and human interaction. It does have a solid place in our future and in this crisis it has served us well. It has also pointed to new and productive ways of working that will certainly be

of benefit.

We were rated ‘Outstanding in all areas by Ofsted and what has been so heartening is to see how the team at Rainbow has responded in this unique set of circumstances. The response has been truly ‘Outstanding’. We have redoubled our efforts in supporting our carers as well as creating new and innovative ways to reach out to those with an interest in fostering. 

We constantly inspired by the efforts of all our foster carers who overcome challenges every day. And particularly in this year of crisis, they have braved so much and adapted so well. It’s timely to be able to draw on the words of one of our foster carers, Barbara Lothian (aka Mary) to represent the efforts of all in this toughest of years. Her story and poetry were a noteworthy contribution in this Summer’s Newsletter: sentiments that resonate powerfully, especially the closing line as there is the hope of a vaccine in 2021.

‘Neither here barely there’.

somewhere lost in between.

The seasons change, somehow, I remain berried in the past.

Indelible marks fade away, the print on my heart eased its grip.

As I walk along the bamboo road. The branches like limbs,

Reach down to hide my path,

Peeping through, I see a glimmer of light.

A sure sight I am on my way to a better life.

Finally, as we celebrate another Rainbow anniversary, the pandemic has made us all know what it is to be vulnerable. We perhaps have a better understanding of ourselves and hopefully of others.

It’s this hope we carry this forward as we mark the achievements of our amazing foster carers, our dedicated members of Team Rainbow and above all our foster children who did so well in this unforgettable year.

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