What makes a hub home carer – an insight into the Mockingbird role

Every Mockingbird constellation is led by a hub home carer in partnership with a liaison worker. These roles are unique in foster care, building a community and supporting whole families. Wendy, a hub home carer in Wigan, tells us how she got into fostering and what her hub home carer role requires.


Find out more about the Mockingbird Programme here

Our fostering journey started 17 years ago, when I was working in a special needs school as the office manager. There was a young man coming into the school every day with his rucksack, not knowing where he was going to be sleeping that night. I offered to take the young man home to support him until somewhere more permanent could be found but sadly, as we were not approved carers, that was not possible. At that point I said ‘well we will be’.

A journey

After speaking with my husband Steve and our teenage daughter Steph we became a fostering family in July 2005 and have since welcomed around 20 teenagers into our family, some of whom stayed long term, some short term and some just for a few nights. 

We had our ups and downs as foster carers, even took a break after our family went through a series of bereavements, but our daughter reminded us why we started in the first place. We picked fostering up again and we are so glad. 

Connecting with others

Both myself and my husband worked full time while being foster carers and raising our daughter. We both loved our jobs and fostering, but there were times when we felt quite isolated. It was tricky to get to know other carers when training and support groups were held during working hours. 

One young person that came to us over four years ago, has lots of brothers and sisters living elsewhere and we’ve worked hard to keep them connected to their family. Over the years we arranged regular meet ups, holidays and invited the older children who lived further away to join us in our home for Christmas. Getting to know their family and carers really showed us the value of these connections for everyone. So, when Wigan introduced their first Mockingbird constellation, we knew we wanted to be a part of it. 
We started out as a satellite family and loved it. Not only did we meet many lifelong friends, we also had an extensive support network for the first time. Being satellite carers reinvigorated our love for fostering and it was also a great preparation for what came next. 

Becoming hub home carers

A year into our Mockingbird career Wigan were getting ready to launch their second constellation and after a lot of careful pondering and family meetings on what was right for our family, we decided to put ourselves forward to be hub home carers.

We felt we had a lot of transferable skills: my knowledge of leadership, managing people and education would be so helpful, we thought, in supporting satellite families and working alongside other professionals around the child. Moreover, we were excellent communicators, energetic, empathetic, had a passion in supporting young people, were ‘out of the box’ thinkers, resilient and had a much needed sense of humour. All these we felt were requirements to succeed. 

It was a major life changing event when we were offered the role of hub home carers as I had to step back from my role as executive business manager of a federation of schools I had for over 20 years, but becoming a Mockingbird hub home carer was something I felt I had to do. 
Leaving my job has been an adjustment, but I have no regrets at all.

Learning as you go

Being a hub home carer has been eye opening. We’ve been exposed to a broader spectrum of experiences, including helping families with court proceedings which we’d never been involved in before, and have a much deeper understanding of foster care and the complexities of the social care system now. 

I would recommend to anyone who wants to become a hub home carer in the future to spend time as a satellite carer first. For my husband and I, spending time in a constellation was almost like an induction. Our hub home carer gave us a real insight into what the role entails and enabled us to hit the ground running. 

Another one of Wigan Councils satellite carers will become hub home carers for Wigan’s third constellation soon and it’s so great to know that we have these strong bonds and links to continue to support each other. 

Find out more about the Mockingbird Programme here

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