When Phil began his career as a foster carer he was only too aware of the challenges facing children and young people in care.

As a teacher at Young Offenders’ Centre in Wolverhampton he had seen first-hand the high numbers of looked-after children who ended up in prison.

He wanted to try and interrupt this destructive cycle by providing children and teenagers with a happy, stable home.

Phil, 50, says; "My mission was to work alongside Heath Farm Fostering to change a child's life for the better. I wanted to help guide those children who've had an unlucky start to life and teach them how to take care of themselves - all with an aim of stopping ongoing issues that repeat with each new generation."

Initially worrying his relationship status and age would be barriers to fostering, Phil joined the Heath Farm family in 2014 and became a full-time, single foster carer. (Prior to 2014 he was fostering as a couple with his partner). During Phil’s foster care, he has successfully fostered ten children.

Based in Ashford, Phil's current family dynamic consists of a long-term placement - a boy aged 11 - and his two birth daughters, aged 21 and 24.

Speaking about his current placement, Phil said: "This was his first placement in foster care. Previously he had no stability and was passed from family member to family member - under the supervision of several social workers.

As a result he was missing structure, which in turn affected his health, social development and education."

Phil added; "He was initially quiet an aggressive child but we've managed to build a brilliant relationship, which has lead to a positive change and new direction for him.

“Since being with Heath Farm Fostering, his attitude and outlook on life has improved dramatically. More positive and growing in confidence, he has been given the support to concentrate on things like education - his literacy skills have improved - jumping two reading ages in just seven weeks."

Due to the opportunities Phil and his family have exposed the 11 year old to, the future is only going to get better. The boy is growing to be competent sportsman - he loves cross country and is part of the basketball, football and volleyball teams at school - regularly leading his class mates victory.

Outside of school, it's clear Phil and his daughters have had a positive influence on his life. He enjoys Karting (which he does with Phil at the weekends) and is already thinking about University - inspired by one of Phil's daughter who is training to be part of the police force.

Phil says that being part of Heath Farm's recruitment and approval process was actually a positive experience. As he says, the team provide an excellent support package and have high standards for the children they place in foster care. Phil is continuing to benefit from an extensive training programme which is ongoing throughout his fostering career - with access to 24-hour support.

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