Tori and Phil Doig began fostering in 2013. With no children of their own, they wanted to offer a home and sense of hope to young people who, through no fault of their own, found themselves in care.
When they open the door of their home in Brockworth, the couple’s three cocker spaniels offer an enthusiastic welcome.
Dilly, Dotty and Daisy play a big part in the Doig household, and have been an instant hit with the children who have joined them.
“The dogs give them love – which is what it’s all about for children who haven’t had much of it in their lives,” said Tori.
Their fostering journey began after many attempts at having their own children.
“We always wanted to be parents – we knew that. But I’d had four miscarriages. Then we had IVF treatment. I finally got pregnant but our little girl Maddie died when she was one day old,” said Tori.
It was a devastating blow. They investigated the possibility of adoption but that came to nothing.
“We decided to look at fostering. The Community Foster Care website was pink. We rang and they answered straight away. Someone came around to see us really quickly and she was brilliant.
“She told us we’d make perfect foster carers. We thought ‘Wow!’ After all those years of wanting children and being rejected, suddenly someone was saying ‘yes’.”
The Doigs’ first child was a 17-year-old boy who came for a respite weekend. Then along came a 10-year-old girl as a short-term emergency placement.
Now Phil and Tori are carers to a boy who arrived as an emergency placement at 2am one Sunday with a carrier bag full of belongings and never left.
“He has taught us so much,” said Phil, a driving instructor. “He reminds me of what I was like as a child. Christmas with him was fab. He said it was the best he’d ever had.
“Whatever happens, he will be part of our family forever. We will always be there for him.”
After more than 10 years as a support worker for people with learning disabilities, Tori is skilled at knowing how to get the best out of children who may have had a difficult time.
“Every child is different. They can put up a lot of barriers to protect themselves. It takes time to gain their trust. But when you get that trust, that first ‘thankyou’, or a laugh and a hug – it’s priceless.
“You have to know when to put your foot down and when to give them space.”
Phil added: “If we can make a difference to a child’s life and change an outcome that was looking bleak, so they are safe and can become a valued member of the community, that’s what it’s all about. We want to offer them hope.”
They are pleased that they chose Community Foster Care.
“CFC is amazing. We couldn’t have chosen a better agency. We get lots of training and review meetings and more support than we ever thought. Our social worker is brilliant – he fights tooth and nail for us,” said Tori.
Their advice to others is unequivocal: “If you have patience and you enjoy mothering and fathering, and you want to make a difference to a child’s life, then go for it.”