Swansea couple who fostered over 1,000 young people retire after 39 years

A couple from Swansea who have fostered over 1,000 young people have decided to retire after 39 years.

After giving birth to their daughter Becky, Wendy and Steve Taylor were told that they couldn’t have more children. They wanted a bigger family so in 1994 they started fostering.

“Becky was only four when we started and we had no idea how long it was going to last. I seriously didn’t think that only now we’d be finishing”, said Wendy.

Steve added: “We did say we’d look at it when Becky was eleven and then that went. Then we said we’d look at it when we had our first grandchild - he’s now 21. It just didn’t happen.

“It doesn’t feel like 39 years. It feels like yesterday we had our first foster child. People say we should write a book.”

A 'thank you party' was held at the Guildhall on Monday 11 December to celebrate Wendy and Steve's incredible work.  

Wendy and Steve have opened their home and opened their hearts to over 1,000 vulnerable young people over the last 39 years and now, some past and present foster children have come together to say thank you.

“He’s number three and I’m number 306”, said one foster child.

“I could pack up my things and go back tomorrow - that’s how much affection and love I have for them, as parents.”

“They taught me to think about myself and how to be a person within my own right. They were exactly what I needed in life”, another added.

Jordie Cullen was fostered by the couple back in 2009 when she was 14-years-old. She wants to thank them for “picking up the pieces” and for making her the woman she is today.

She said: “What do you say to people who’ve dedicated their lives to children like they have? I just want to say thank you and I want them to know they’re really special.

“I always say I feel lucky to have spent time with Wendy and Steve because not many people get that love and care and attention that they give you. They truly are parents. It’s not like you’re living in a foster home, it feels like you’re living with mum and dad.”

The last four decades have been full of ups and downs for Wendy and Steve but they wouldn’t change it for the world and are now encouraging others to start fostering.

“We desperately need carers”, said Wendy.

“It doesn’t feel like 39 years" said Steve Taylor.

“If I had my time again, I’d love to do it but preferably with the experience I’ve got now.”

“Give it a go - try it”, Steve added. It’s an experience that’s been fantastic for us. Overall it’s been a brilliant, brilliant time, with very fond memories.”

Louise Gibbard, Cabinet Member for Social Services at Swansea Council hopes that their story will inspire others to foster.

She said: “To give that long commitment to so many young people who clearly have very difficult backgrounds and going through a lot of trauma, but to have that connection and to keep in touch with them really shows how special they are. 

“We’re desperate for more foster carers so I really hope that their story inspires people to come forward and think ‘I could do this too, I could provide a really stable home to some young people going through difficult times’.”

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