Phil and Ange Dakin have lived and worked in Episkopi Station for 12 years. They’ve been registered as a foster family for the last three, providing emergency and respite fostering to the British Forces Cyprus community. AFF’s Regional Lead Cyprus, Aileen Naylor, caught up with the couple to hear about their experiences…

Why did you choose to foster?

We’re always keen to put something back into the community and as professional youth workers we wanted to use our skills to support young people; fostering felt like an appropriate way we could help. We wanted to ensure that we found a balance so that the needs of our own children were met and those of the young people that needed short-term support. Fostering in Cyprus is a community support function whereas in the UK it is seen as more of a profession. Placements here are generally short-term because where possible the social work team tries to find a suitable placement for the young people with their extended family. That means we usually have a young person for a few weeks at most.

What’s it been like?

The initial assessment period was quite intense, but we had a good relationship with our social worker and that helped us to work through the application process, which included background checks, interviews and meeting with a panel.

The training was informative and the process took almost a year, but we’ve had a very positive experience due to the support from the social work team.

Tell us about your first placement…

It was a new chapter in our family life – eye-opening, daunting, exciting, fun and a little bit scary. We’re used to having our house full of young people when our daughters’ friends stay over but this was significantly different. For instance, we had planned to go to Troodos as a family with friends from the UK, however, to do this we needed permission from the social work team to ensure we were still following the guidelines. This worked well and we were able to have fun as a foster family. During the weekend we had a number of questions for the social workers but they were great – there was always somebody at the end of the phone.

How are you supported?

The support here is excellent. Any issues get sorted quickly and we’ve found the whole British Forces Cyprus  community really supportive and our friends have been incredible too. We’ve been able to maintain stability for the young people in our care and they’ve been able to remain in school and take part in their regular clubs and activities as normal. In what can be a very scary time, this makes the transition for them so much easier.

Would you recommend the fostering experience in Cyprus?

Absolutely. It’s been a positive experience for us and our own children.

They have been really caring to the young people we’ve looked after – read stories, played games and been helpful.

Having boys in our house has been a learning curve for us all, but we have loved every minute of it.

If you’re currently or are due to be posted to Cyprus and are interested in fostering, email contactuscyprus@forcessocialwork.com

ALL CHANGE FOR CARERS IN CYPRUS

Polaris Children’s Services took over the contract for social work and welfare services for the forces community in Cyprus earlier this year.

For families who use the service, the key message is ‘it’s business as usual’, with the current social work and support
services still available through the same qualified and experienced staff. Polaris has already provided social work services for military communities in Germany and across the world.

They have a great website where you can find out more – forcessocialwork.com

USEFUL LINKS:

Becoming a foster carer – gov.uk/becoming-foster-parent
Polaris – polariscommunity.co.uk
Foster Carer Associates – thefca.co.uk
AFF – aff.org.uk

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