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Date added: 30 May 2012

Inspirational Women in Swindon - Part II 

Liz Brackenbury meets Paula Pagett in the second part of our Inspirational Women series
 
Paula Pagett is a remarkable person. A single mum to two children, she works 25 hours a week as a school nurse for children with complex health needs and learning difficulties, and has two energetic and bouncy dogs.
 
So you'd think she'd take some time out at the weekends to
relax. Not Paula! With a bubbly personality and infectious positivity
she is also a short-break foster carer for the Swindon Home and
Away scheme.
 
"I like to be busy", says Paula, "and I love my job, so to be a short-break carer is perfect combination of the two."
  
Paula is a natural ambassador for the scheme: "People don't always
realise that short-break fostering is an option and can be unsure
of taking in a child with learning or physical difficulties", she explains, "but the benefits are simply amazing."
 
Paula Pagett
 
Previously known as respite care, short-break fostering means you provide regular and much needed breaks to the parents of a child with complex health or learning issues. It can be done to fit in around your family commitments either during the week or over the weekend and for a minimum of one short break a month.
 
Your home doesn't have to be specially adapted as the care provided is for short breaks, although specialist equipment is available through the Great Western Hospitals equipment lending service if needed.
 
"I adapt my front room into a bedroom and the equipment lending service is fantastic." explains Paula.
 
"We've also just secured funding through Aiming High for a multi-terrain buggy which has made a huge difference in getting out and about. We're very lucky."
     
By offering a safe and loving environment to a child not only do the
parents get a rest but the child also benefits from the opportunity to develop and establish new friendships and have different experiences.

Being a single parent hasn't been a barrier to becoming a foster carer and Paula says it's freed her up to do this type of fostering. 

"I'd have always liked more children," she says, "and doing this has helped fulfil that dream.' 

Mindful that this had to be a family decision, she discussed the idea thoroughly with her children and extended family who all said "Go For It!"
 
Incredible experience
 
She then went through the process of selection, training and
interviews before finally being paired with a child. Careful matching of a child to a foster family is essential as is building trust and a relationship with the child's family, too.
 
Visits are progressive to build up that confidence and full support is on hand through the social service team who Paula describes as "outstanding".

"It's been incredible," says Paula, "the Home and Away team are brilliant, there is so much support and training, plus I've made so many friends along the way, it really has opened up a whole new world for us all."
 
Paula has a great family network and her children are actively involved in all aspects too. They help plan activities and trips which can be simple things like face and nail painting and reading stories to a going for walks or a trip on the bus, although Paula has also been to the seaside and farms.
 
"It's awesome," smiles Paula's daughter, "We absolutely love it."
  
Paula glows when she talks of her foster child. "I just couldn't
imagine her not in our lives. She's impacted on everyone who meets her. She is just beautiful."
 
"It makes you see the world through a different perspective, it really opens up your eyes to new things, she has enriched our lives and brings so much happiness. I'd recommend looking into becoming a short-break foster caring to anybody."
 
More information on Fostering in Swindon can be found via the link below.
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