Foster carer cannot ‘rein’ in her enthusiasm for fostering
25th November 2021
Lily Fegan began fostering in 2010. As a single parent to her nine year old daughter, Lily was working full-time in a bank and leading a busy life. A TV advert about a young boy who needed a home touched Lily’s heart and she contacted her local HSC NI Foster Care team to see if she could offer something positive to another child.
Since then, Lily has embraced being a foster carer mainly for teenagers and sibling groups, offering them stability until they reach adulthood. Lily currently has two teenagers living with her. Until recently she had three, two of whom were siblings, but one has moved on to university.
Lily found her supervising social worker invaluable in helping her find the type of fostering that suited her family and lifestyle. She has also had great support from her family who live close by.
In the beginning, Lily offered short breaks to older children but one teenage girl settled so well, she stayed for a month and then eventually moved in. Lily’s enthusiasm for fostering grew and she realised that she wanted to dedicate more of her life to being a foster carer.
Naturally as a single mum, Lily had reservations about how her daughter, Eileen would adapt to sharing her home with other young people. However, she was quickly reassured and realised how beneficial it was for Eileen and how much she enjoyed their company. “Eileen was able to support me in better understanding the ‘typical behaviours’ for young people and helped me maintain perspective. She definitely bridged the gap with my understanding. Eileen has made some life-long relationships with the young people and developed a greater sense of empathy with regards the life circumstances of others,” said Lily.
As a parent, Lily wanted to give Eileen lots of opportunities in life and horseriding became a focus for both of them. Eileen persuaded Lily to adopt a horse from a local rescue centre and at 11, Eileen discovered dressage and went on to be placed in and win numerous regional and national competitions on her horse, Dalia Star.
This passion for horses was extended to the other young people in the home who were encouraged to learn more and become involved. Horseriding became an interest that everyone could connect with and Lily began to keep horses herself.
Lily witnessed first-hand the positive effect of both horses and dogs in the lives of the young people living with her. She learned that animals, and horses in particular, can play a great part in helping young people change the way they think and feel about themselves, overcome obstacles, and become more confident. This realisation led Lily to undertake training in Equine therapy in an effort to use the connection between people and horses to enhance physical and emotional healing.
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