We all dream about finding the perfect job, but for Emma Mussard, her dream has become a reality and she has never looked back.

Now Emma’s career change from nursing to fostering is changing the lives of not just Middlesbrough children but their families too!

As Emma and husband Steve watch the 8 year old boy and his little sister play in the garden they smile at how their lives have changed. “We had always wanted to foster but our full time nursing careers and constant pressure of paying the mortgage and bills stopped us from making the call. When I retired from nursing due to a health issue I was straight on the phone to the council.”

Emma says helping Middlesbrough children is a priority, “We really wanted to give some security and stability to local children. For me, it was about making sure that we fostered for the council. We didn’t want to work for an agency who charge local authorities a lot of money. The council is where the children go to first so I felt it was right for us to go there too.”

Emma and Steve, who is still a specialist mental health nurse, care for children long term and before their current two foster children cared for two other siblings who now live with adoptive parents. “We made our first two children keepsake boxes to take with them to their forever homes, so they could remember their journey. We get regular updates on how they are doing and they are thriving!”

But the couple acknowledge that saying goodbye is hard, “That was difficult. Our daughter was 12 years old when they left and she found it really tough – but we got lots of support from the council to help us through it. Her bond with the little girl we look after now is absolutely lovely to see. You would never know they weren’t birth sisters!”

Whilst lockdown has been tough for many of us, Emma has been grateful for the time spent at home with her foster children. Watching the children play with a ball, she marvels at how far they have come, “Spending so much time together has been the best thing. The children have really relaxed and are trusting us more and more. He has opened up to us so much about his experiences and feelings, he has come such a long way from the little boy we met 2 years ago.”

Emma tells more about how listening to the little boy in their care has changed his life, “He really missed his Grandma and Grandad and we felt so strongly that building relationships with them would be such a positive thing for him.  Our social worker and the council have really listened and been so supportive of the relationships we have formed with their extended family. Now the little boy trusts me to make things happen for him.”

Brimming with pride, Emma talks about the progress the little girl is making, “She didn’t speak and no-one knew why. She now she has conversation and we are really proud of that. She can make her needs known and is beginning to ask us questions. We are advocates for the children and I am proud of how I can support the children’s birth families too”.

Telling Emma how inspiring she is, she smiles and nods to the children, “They are really amazing. Even though they have had such trauma in their lives they have taught us how brave and resilient children can be. As adults and parents we want to fix our children’s problems straight away, but with these children there is a lot of history you don’t always know straight away. They need time and lots of love.

Emma has some great advice for anyone thinking about changing to a career in foster care, “Do it! Explore further, don’t just think about it – make the call!”

If you want to find out more about fostering including long term fostering and caring for siblings, call Middlesbrough Council on 01642 201962 and visit fosteringformiddlesbrough.org.uk.