Meet Catherine Parnell, 41, from Buckley. Catherine left her job in e-commerce working for Iceland after 12 years to become a full-time foster carer having been inspired during the pandemic to do something more meaningful.
Parents to a blended family of their own, fostering is something Catherine and her husband, Stuart, 42, had been considering for a while.
In the early days of the first coronavirus lockdown, and like many Britons, Catherine continued her career of more than a decade from her home. But as the weeks went on, she found herself starting to think about escaping the nine to five and doing something more fulfilling. It was then when she read a story online about the rising number of children in care because of the pandemic and the need for more foster carers which ultimately motivated her to make the plunge into fostering.
It was only a matter of weeks before Catherine was on the phone with different fostering organisations and local authorities to find the best match for her and her family. In April 2021, Catherine was approved to become a foster carer with us at Foster Careline.
“Fostering was always something I had considered after seeing my best friend’s parents foster when I was younger. However, it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I had more time to think about my calling in life and started to consider fostering more seriously.
“I was slightly hesitant at first if I had the right qualifications, but I soon realised that I didn’t need an extensive CV to foster. After being approved to become a foster carer, I immediately started a week-long initial training course, which is mandatory. I learnt everything from supporting a child through trauma and safeguarding to behavior management and mental health. My family also went through rigorous training so they could support me to support the children in our care.”
Earlier this year, the couple fostered one teenager and are currently waiting for the arrival of their next foster child.
“Having worked in a corporate environment for so long, you can get really comfortable only celebrating big moments or events. What fostering has taught me so far is that it’s the little things that matter most. There are many children in care that don’t believe in themselves or have minimal self-worth because they think they are the reason for being in care. But when you start to see the youngsters who do change and become more confident in their own selves and abilities, it’s so incredible to witness.”
Looking to the future, Catherine shares how they hope to foster for many years to come, she said: “At Iceland, my job wasn’t flexible, and I found I was spending more time in the office than at home with my family. Now I can prioritise my family life, sport practice after school and family game nights after tea without thinking about a work deadline. The pandemic gave me the chance to rethink my work life balance and leaving behind my stressful nine to five job to become a foster carer has been the best thing I’ve ever done.
“Children in foster care have been through so much, they are so resilient, but they do need a loving and safe home to thrive. If you’re feeling stuck in your job or looking to do something more rewarding, think about fostering. It’ll be the best decision you’ll ever make.”