Young People at Heart is a not-for-profit Independent Foster-Care Agency (IFA) that’s expanding! At Young People at Heart outcomes for young people are paramount for the organisation and everyone associated with it. Quite simply, everything the organisation does has the interests of young people at heart and that’s the way we want it to stay. On that basis the people who work with us have to have exactly the same ethos. Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our latest recruits Estelle Cashin, our Placements Officer.
My first experience of an IFA was in the late 1990’s when I got my first job at a small IFA local to where I lived. It had a real family feel to it and it was a great place to work. I worked as a Receptionist/Administrator before being lured back to my previous employer and then starting a family.
I had grown up in a family who fostered and was one of four myself. As a result I have some fantastic memories of all of us piling into the car and going to see my grandparents in Great Yarmouth, sometimes as many as seven children and our dog. I always admired my parents for fostering and the children and young people we looked after were very much a part of our family. I think having this experience as a child has helped me to grow as a person.
After having my second child I went back to the local IFA and worked a few hours a week populating their new database (mostly I went in on a Friday afternoon to entertain the troops whilst doing the odd bit of data input!) and looked on, longingly, while someone else fulfilled my dream job, Placements Officer. I continued to be a full time mum of two and went on to have two more children.
When my youngest was at school I had a conversation with a friend, who worked at the agency, who told me that a Training Administrator position was about to become available. I applied and got the job.
During my working life I have had a handful of bosses who’ve had a positive impact on me and, the way I work. Dale Cooper, my new boss, was one of these and I am thankful that, although no longer my boss, he is now my friend. It was during my time working with Dale, in the Training Administration role, that I had an opportunity to help, and cover for, Sarah the Placements Officer. I was in my element as I had finally got to be, albeit in an adhoc way, a Placements Officer. Over time the role grew and I was given the opportunity to be the full time Placements Officer. Seven years later I still love my job.
Not long after being given the role full time the agency we worked for was sold to an investment company, who went on to purchase a number of different fostering agencies. The area and number of agencies I covered grew and I had a team of seven to manage. Although incredibly proud of what I achieved while I was there (the number of children I had found fantastic carers for, carers who gave the young people placed the lives they deserved) I slowly started to feel that the role was becoming less about the children and the carers and more about how many children could be placed. I always really wanted to make a difference and I didn’t feel I was anymore. So I made one of the toughest decisions I have ever made, to leave the organisation (where I’d worked for years and where I had met some incredible people).
I reached out to Dave Bailey and Gary Cox at Young People at Heart because I had worked with them before and admired what Young People at Heart stood for. So here I am, working for a not for profit organisation where everyone’s opinion, and feelings, matter. A place where I feel listened to, valued and am encouraged to put the young people we work with at the heart of everything I do. I meet the children I place and spend time talking to the carers on the phone so I can match them better by understanding their needs (which makes the placement more sustainable). I’m doing what I love most and making a difference again! But I never forget that I couldn’t do this job without the foster carers and their families. They are the people who volunteer to care for the looked-after children and young people who need them. The people whose children have to share everything including the time they have with their parents. The people who are in extremely short supply because each and every year the number of referrals increases. If you’d like to foster with young people at heart then give me a call.