Steve waves proudly at dozens of pictures of the children he and Wendy have cared for which bedeck the walls of the couple’s cosy kitchen in Coney Hill.
“It’s one big happy family,” he says proudly.
The couple decided to look into fostering when their own sons were 10 and 14.
“We’d lost our daughter when she was only four years old. We had a lot of help at the time and we felt we wanted to give something back,” said Wendy.
“Community Foster Care put a leaflet through the door. They were having a drop-in evening at the local community centre, so we went along.
“They told us there was a big need for foster carers because a lot of local children were being placed out of the county.”
Wendy was a domestic at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital at the time and Steve worked at Severn Trent.
After a thorough training course, which included their two sons, the Impeys’ first placement was a three-year-old girl who stayed for two weeks.
A second toddler stayed for 18 months until she was adopted. Now 16 years old, she keeps in contact with Wendy and Steve and pops in every Christmas.
Then there were three brothers who became a part of the Impey family for two years. Another boy and his sister stayed for more than eight years.
“It’s always hard when they leave, but knowing that they’re moving on for good reasons makes it okay,” said Wendy, now a learning support worker.
“We keep in touch with most of our children. It’s brilliant when they pick up the phone for a chat, or ask if they can come for the weekend.”
They reel off the names of one child after another, proud of each one’s achievements in overcoming some difficult times, holding down a job, keeping out of trouble and conquering seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
“Cared-for children need safe boundaries,” said Steve. “They need to be shown respect because they’ve been rejected so often – that’s one of their biggest issues. The most important thing we can offer is stability, honesty and the chance to be part of a family.
“We welcome them in as part of our family. Whatever we do, they do with is – parties, holidays, Christmas, the lot.
“They’ll walk over glass for each other and adopt each other as brothers and sisters. They really want to belong.”
He and Wendy are grateful to family and friends, as well as other carers from Community Foster Care, for the support they’ve had over the years. They stress that being a foster carer isn’t always easy.
“But the high points definitely outweigh the low ones,” said Wendy. “No problem is too big to conquer and we tackle each issue as a family. When you get a smile and a hug, that makes it all worth while.”
Steve swears he wouldn’t swap his role as a foster carer for anything. “When I come home after work, I never know what to expect. Some chaps just go home to a night in front of the telly.”