Grandmother Susan McAlinden had often considered becoming a foster carer.
With four children of her own and six grandchildren, the 62-year-old had a hunch it would suit her down to the ground.
It took a nudge from her 27-year-old daughter Sally to take the plunge.
“There was an advert in the local paper and Sally said ‘you keep talking about it mum – let’s go and do something about it’. So she came with me to an information session run by Community Foster Care and that was it,” said Susan.
“When I looked back on all the jobs I’d done, looking after children and being a mum was the role I loved the most.
“I took the CFC leaflets home and thought ‘yes, it’s what I want to do’.”
An only child, Susan left secondary school in Ulverston when she was 16 and married at 17. Widowed in 2004 at the age of 50, her four children are now all grown up and the last has finally left home.
Now living in Barrow-in-Furness, she has spent some time working as a nurse at Abbey View Hospital in Barrow. She has also been a registered childminder.
Becoming a foster carer meant six months’ training with her chosen foster care agency, Community Foster Care: “The training was quite intense but it was also cathartic. You talk about a lot of things you haven’t spoken about before – but maybe should have done. It was draining, but worth it,” she said.
Her first cared-for child arrived in January 2016. “I got a call in the afternoon and she was on the doorstep that evening with just a few bags and very upset.”
Susan has not looked back. “I hope it’s a win-win situation for both me and the children – that’s the goal. All they want is to be in a place where they feel safe, and when you see positive changes in them, you know you’re probably doing something right.”
Her advice to others who might be considering fostering is to follow their instincts. “If seeing an advert for foster carers triggers a little something in you, follow it up.
“With Community Foster Care there’s always someone at the end of the phone if you need to talk. It’s not scary at all. And it’s definitely the best job I’ve ever done.”