Foster carer Ben reflects on the tumultuous events over the last sixteen months.
It wasn’t that long ago that when pressed for an answer many of us might have confused the terms epidemic and pandemic. 2020 brought an unwelcome crash course in vocabulary we would rather have not signed up for: epidemiology – the study (scientific, systematic, and data-driven) of the distribution (frequency, pattern) and determinants (causes, risk factors) of health-related states and events (not just diseases) in specified populations (neighbourhood, school, town, city, county, country, global). Who knew? And who have we to thank for expanding our knowledge without invitation? A new addition to the family of coronaviruses waiting in the wings referred to as SARS-CoV-2 known as COVID-19. And so the stage was set for a pandemic that has challenged and confounded governments around the world. It happened with lightning speed: on 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) learned of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The rest, as it is said, is history. It has been a tragedy resulting in 3.43m fatalities worldwide. If not a man-made catastrophe – assuming it won’t be found to have escaped from a research lab in Wuhan – there is plenty of evidence to suspect it could be the consequence of liberties taken with nature. However it arose, one fact is indisputable: its rapid spread was fuelled by the unprecedented age of mass human travel we live in. Airlines proved to be the vectors of this novel and highly transmissible disease. We now have to think very differently about our place in the world and the risks of such global interconnectivity. Never again can any of us rely on the idea of distance keeping us safe. What happens in Wuhan can happen in Woking.
It’s to be hoped that never again will world leaders behave in a hesitant and casual way in the face of the unknown: to confront a pandemic affecting a panglossian and cavalier attitude is a dereliction of duty. The banality of repeating mantras about “lessons having been learned” will not suffice. All governments should adopt the precautionary principle from the outset of any new pandemic. This one has dealt a systemic shock to our collective psychology, institutions, and structures of government. Departments reeled as it became quickly evident there was not enough PPE to protect hospital staff. And this despite Exercise Cygnus held in 2016: a three-day simulation exercise carried out by NHS England in October 2016 to estimate the impact of a hypothetical H2N2 influenza pandemic on the United Kingdom. This should have identified the overriding need for reserve supplies of PPE.
The image of the virus – a backdrop to daily news briefings – has been imprinted on our minds much as the fabled and revered sudarium might have been. The way the virus has behaved has been unpredictable and its effects agathokakological: a malign and widespread impact on global economies whilst eliciting courage from health workers who relegated their own safety to care for others. Coronavirus means in the rich developed nations we all have one thing in common: a sense of what it is to be truly vulnerable. Our technology lapsed momentarily and we were left in a life-threatening void waiting for the men (and women) in white coats to ride to our rescue. Which they have done in magnificent style: we now have several highly effective vaccines. But because new variants keep appearing, it would be a mistake to think we are out of the woods. Nonetheless, the surge of relief is almost palpable as people head off to restaurants and green-listed foreign destinations. For those in power left to mull over the impact of coronavirus, there is still much to be puzzled by: it appears there is no correlation between the severity of national lockdowns and mortality. On the other hand, there appears to be a close link between the severity of national lockdowns and economic damage. It would be unfortunate if we all suffered from lacunar amnesia along with long covid: we need to retain the memory of those first few months of 2020 when everything was frightening and uncertain. Why? Because perhaps for the first time since our technological accomplishments seduced us into thinking we would always be invulnerable, we found ourselves humbled by nature. Human beings are not immortal and as we cautiously emerge from the pandemic, the lesson we need to learn is humility.
(Names always changed to protect privacy).
Rainbow is urgently looking for people to train to foster with us. There is something of a country-wide crisis in foster care at the moment. On 31st March 2019, there were some 44,450 fostering households and this represented a 2 percent rise compared with 31st March 2018. The same period has seen a 3 per cent rise in the number of children being placed in foster care. Every year there is a shortage of foster carers. And this year following the recent Foster Care Fortnight campaign delivered by The Fostering Network, this figure stands at 8,600.
Enjoy good health and possibly looking for a new career path in life? Fostering might well be for you. It has a great deal to offer: foster carers enjoy job flexibility and as well as the chance to work from home. Think no daily commute. You will need to be committed to providing the best care and emotional support for vulnerable children.
Our Rainbow foster carers have one thing in common: they are all committed to the idea of building their knowledge, skills, and experience by taking advantage of the high-quality training we provide. Just one of the many reasons Rainbow has been rated ‘Outstanding in all areas’ by Ofsted. This means you can always be confident we will always do our best to support you and your fostering family.
The children we are supporting in London, Birmingham, Manchester, and in parts of Hampshire are diverse and of all ages. We need foster homes for teenagers, sibling groups, and children with complex needs. We are also getting asked to provide homes for young mothers and their babies – known as parent and child fostering. Whatever path you take, you will know you are making a tremendous difference – possibly all the difference in the world – to children who need stability, love, and a second chance.
No one needs special skills or qualifications to foster a child or young person. But you must have a spare room. Call us on 0330 311 2845 to find out more about fostering. If you like the sound of what we can offer, the application process is quick and efficient. We will start by contacting you over Skype to collect your details. It’s very easy – one of our friendly recruitment advisors will give you all the help you need to set this up.
Another of our blogs covering a fostering topic:
For the latest information on the pandemic and staying safe –
visit – https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus Contact details and for Rainbow Fostering Services where you can leave your details and apply to become a foster carer can be found at: http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/contact/
Rainbow putting the focus on fostering.