Lorina and Dervin Mayne, of Thornton Heath, have welcomed 185 children and young people into their home since the 1980s. They are foster carers.
Lorina Mayne, 72, a retired Mayday Hospital nurse, said: “I had a lot of love to give… And there were children out there who needed some security, love and protection.”
Foster Care Fortnight, from 1 to 14 June, celebrates carers like the Mayne family, while encouraging new families and individuals to open their homes. It is an annual nationwide awareness campaign to highlight the need for carers.
According to fostering organization The Foster Network, 8,370 new families are needed to foster children in the UK this year. There are over 63,000 children who live in foster care each day in the UK.
Mayne said: “I can’t see my life any different. This is me and my family.”
Mayne and her family began fostering after she saw a presentation at the hospital where she worked as a nurse.
Mayne retired 23 years ago from nursing, but she says the skills and training from her career and the courses she took in counselling helped her new family successfully transition with each addition.
“For a few nights after I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I was giving my children the best I could give but there were children in my community that needed love and protection,” she said.
With the support of her husband, Mayne contacted Croydon Social Services to begin the foster carer application process. Mayne said even though her youngest child at the time was 5-years-old, fostering was something she had to do.
She said: “It was not a problem. My family is huge, so he grew up with lots of children. The lifestyle was no different. In the end, he was happy to have someone to play with.”
Mayne said it was important to discuss what was happening with her older children, but that her younger children grew up expecting the family would foster. However, she said even today all her children, though grown, still excitedly await the new additions to the family.
“Even today they can’t wait to meet the new children… It’s their family. They go out together as one family,” she said, commenting that as new children or even young adults are placed with them her children will take them out for dinners, or girls and boys nights.
Mayne added that her children were also humbled by the experience of meeting children from other backgrounds. She said: “It was also good for my children to know they weren’t the only children in the world.”
The appeal of Foster Care Fortnight encourages participation in fostering in order to help children thrive.
Foster Care Associates spokesperson Lisa Ellams said that people who foster have the opportunity to emotionally support children and provide them a stable home.
FCA is a fostering agency that helps place children and young people throughout England, including east London.
Ellams said about fostering: “It’s got to be something you want to do—it’s a lifestyle choice.”
Mayne said: “You need to be sure you are doing it for the right reason… You need to give them that love, and that protection. You’ve got to have the time. You’ve got to have the compassion…
“You need to make them understand you are there for them.”
However, Mayne believes every struggle she’s had with a foster child was worth it, and they all leave her home knowing someone cares about them.
She said: “I happy for them. I thank God I was able to help them.”
The children that she has fostered are still in contact with Mayne. She jokes that she can never predict how many will stop by on Sundays, so she keeps plenty of food on hand.
Mayne said: “I receive cards and letters from them too. Many times I sit and read them, and it brings tears to my eyes.”
“I will continue fostering until I can’t do it anymore.”
Not only has Mayne fostered children who have gone onto stable careers and university, she has also helped children from all over the world. Some have relocated to their birth families in other countries around the world, as far as China and Canada.
She describes her family as one of many nations.
Mayne said: “Each and every one of us is here for a reason. I will do all I can when I can, for whoever needs me.”
Ellams said that applicants need to distinguish between adoption and foster caring. As foster carers, applicants will be caring for children for an unspecified amount of time.
Mayne said that as a foster carer, she has cared for children of all ages over weeks, months and years. Currently, Mayne said, she has fostered a boy from the time he was a a few months old. He is now 15-years-old. During that time, she has also fostered other children as well.
“If there’s anyone out there who feels they have the room and the love… help to take care of the children out there who need the love,” Mayne said.
To become a foster carer, enquire with Foster Care Associates or your local council. Ellams said patience is important for new applicants, because training and clearance can take up to six months.