Service couple Lisa and Daniel Hinton have been foster carers with the National Fostering Agency (NFA) for almost a decade. We caught up with them to find out why fostering can be well suited to Army life…
Tell us about yourself
Danny and I met in Catterick Garrison and were married in 2004. It wasn’t until a few years later that we came across the NFA, which was recruiting at a military show in Aldershot. In the last eight years, while fostering, we have moved six times.
How does the NFA help Service families?
Initially we were concerned about how fostering would work with being in the Army, as we moved so much. Our social worker reassured us that the NFA would support our moves and it would not impact on any placements we may have at the time. As the NFA is a national agency, it enables us to foster children from all over the country.
Was the Army supportive?
The chain of command has given Danny the time to attend training. The process took four months – some nights we sat up until 11pm trying to get through the form!
What was it like fostering for the first time?
We had respite placement for a little boy for a week. It was exciting but you can’t make massive changes. That’s a lesson we learned quite early. You have to welcome them with open arms, live your life normally, and they thrive.
Have people been understanding?
The Army is aware as we had to gain permission to foster in Service Family Accommodation. They have been supportive and we have never experienced any difficulties. All our neighbours and friends have been extremely supportive and very welcoming.
Your lives must have changed overnight…
On our first long-term placement we took the children to choose their own bath towels, toothbrush, pyjamas – everything they needed to make themselves comfortable. Little things like that make them feel welcome and give them their own space and independence.
How many children have you fostered?
Around 18. We have supported young people with various needs and issues, including abuse and specific health and mental health needs. We have really enjoyed fostering and the level of support that we can offer. Both Danny and I value the relationships that we have made with the young people and the positive impact we have on their lives in a short time.
How have the children adapted to Army life?
They love it. They’ve had some big experiences – they’ve met royalty, been to parades and Trooping the Colour.
Does the NFA continue to support you?
The NFA has a fantastic support system in place. There’s a monthly meeting for support groups and a social worker 24/7. Ours is brilliant, we could pick up the phone to her at midnight and she would answer.
How has fostering enriched your lives?
Getting phone calls from children years after they’ve left saying ‘thank you’ – that’s a big thing for us. You may not see the impact you have on them straight away, it’s often further down the line.
What would you say to other Service couples thinking of fostering?
Go for it. We did, and we’ve never looked back!