Foster carer's three decades of changing children's lives

A West Kensington grandmother who has spent nearly 30 years fostering children said helping to transform young lives is the best job anybody could hope to have.

Hanora McCool, who lives near North End Road, has fostered 190 children and said she still loves fostering as much as she did 27 years ago.

The 60-year-old was a registered child-minder before she became a foster carer and said, although it can be difficult, fostering is far more rewarding.

She said: “I thought it’d be the same sort of thing but it’s very different. Before, I was looking after children for working parents for a few hours but children go to foster carers for many different reasons. Often there’s some sort of drama in their lives.

“When you get the feedback from social workers saying how much the child has changed, how they have come to life from being really sad and withdrawn, it’s really rewarding.

“It can be hard work, especially when you get children who are quite challenging but you receive really good training and the support you get is really helpful. I’ve had fantastic support from my supervising social worker. If there’s anything I’m not sure about she’s always there. You’re not just left on your own to get on with it. And there’s support from other carers as there’s a support group and a mentoring programme.”

Hanora has always loved being around children and although saying goodbye can be hard, many keep in touch and welcoming someone new is always a pleasure.

She said: “I have three birth children, two adopted children and six grandchildren with two more on the way. I’ve always had children around, even when I was at school I used to work at an orphanage at Christmas time.

“I get quite a few stay in contact, it’s lovely. Some come and visit two to three times a year, with others I get a card at Christmas. I take photos while they’re here and put it in a book, a bit like a story, and they love looking back at it when they visit and talking about the things they did.”

Hanora might be a grandmother now but she has no plans to stop fostering anytime soon.

She said: “I still go on funfair rides and everything, I’m not one of those old grannies that stays at home. I’m very active. I go out most weekends and do something with the children.

“I absolutely love it. I’m always excited about whose coming next.”

Visit www.lbhf.gov.uk/fostering to find out more about fostering and click on carers’ stories to read first-hand accounts about why they find it so rewarding.

Or call freephone 0800 169 3497, or email fostering@rbkc.gov.uk, to find out more.

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