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Nicki and Gary's story

Life as Mockingbird foster carers

Nicki and Gary joined Rotherham’s fostering family as foster carers over 13 years ago and have since supported children of all ages to be healthy, safe and achieve their potential in Rotherham.

They now support more children and Fostering Rotherham families as Mockingbird hub leaders.

What is Mockingbird and how does Mockingbird support foster carers?

Mockingbird is a type of support system for foster carers which acts like an extended family, made up of foster carers.

Each extended family-like group becomes a Mockingbird ‘hub constellation’, led by hub leaders like Nicki and Gary.

Mockingbird hubs also can provide safe places for looked after children to stay if their full-time carer is away, or for emergencies. This also means the looked after child can stay with a foster carer they know during these periods.

Watch The Fostering Network’s video, ‘What is Mockingbird?’, which explains the Mockingbird support system in more detail:

Nicki and Gary share their more about their Mockingbird role

“We support families around us in our constellation.

We also support looked after children with daycare, school run and overnight stays. We do lots of sleepovers, sometimes planned or sometimes emergency sleepovers, when those families need it.

We are also there for emotional support. I am often on the phone to carers giving advice and support where I can”

How often do you meet with your Mockingbird hub and what do you do when you’re together?

“We organise monthly meetings, events and activities, which means all the families can get together, helping everybody to get to know each other. We’re like one big extended family.

All the carers went together to the wildlife park and they had a fantastic day together. They’ve all been really supportive of each other and of me as well.

We’ve hired halls where we’ve done crafts and activities for the children, lots of team building - it’s great because the children all get to know each other, all the carers get to know each other, we can share experiences and offer support and advice between everybody.

We’ve met up in the daytime at different coffee shops with the foster carers, we’ve been able to talk about any difficulties or challenges that the carers might have at this minute and maybe some of the other carers have already been through those.

For the carers who do work as well - we have got some carers who work full time - we often do virtual meetings, just to ensure that everybody’s included within our constellation where possible”.

How does the Mockingbird hub support Rotherham’s looked after children?

“The children enjoy coming to stay.

We’ve taken them out to wherever they want to go on a weekend, including Jump, picnics in the park, visits to local woods, we’ve taken them to the farm - lots of different places!

Sometimes they [the looked after children] just enjoy being here with us; they enjoy doing baking and cooking with us, building up those relationships.

I think for [the looked after] children, it’s a safe environment, where all the children can relate to each other as they’re all in similar situations. It’s great for them to talk to another child that is in care; they can share those experiences and understand each other”.

What would you like to tell others about Mockingbird?

“I honestly wish Mockingbird had been available when we first became foster carers.

I think it’s absolutely amazing for the carers to get that support, to get that self care, which is absolutely massive, we all need that self care”.

Would you like to learn more about joining Rotherham’s foster family as a foster carer?

We are actively recruiting for full-time and part-time foster carers to provide care and support to young people in the Rotherham borough.

We encourage you to download an information and financial support guide using the links below. Alternatively, you can book a call back with our team at a time that suits you - appointments are available 5 days a week.


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