Growing up, Katie Pillay shared her home with an adult with learning disabilities fostered by her Mum Karen Parker. Motivated by what her mum was doing for others Katie knew that one day she wanted to foster too.
Katie Pillay, 38, from Sidcup, was raised in a loving family in Somerset and from a young age shared her home with an adult with learning disabilities who her mum Karen fostered. Katie always knew she wanted to foster one day too and in March 2021 a 16-year-old boy joined her family home as her first foster placement.
Happily married with two children aged 9 and 6 Katie fosters with the charity Diagrama and her first foster child has been living with the family for almost a year.
Katie Pillay, says, “I always knew that I would foster one day. As a young girl I loved sharing our home with ‘John’ who Mum fostered and the thought never left me that I wanted to follow in Mum’s footsteps. When I first suggested the idea to my husband, he needed some time to process my suggestion but after I explained how many children who have experienced trauma or abuse in their lives need safe homes, he very quickly agreed that we should investigate fostering.
“After looking at various agencies we chose the charity Diagrama and dipped our toe into fostering by attending one of their information evenings, where we were able to ask as many questions as we wanted. We then spoke with a social worker and a foster carer. After we had been accepted the process moved quickly. We chatted with our own children about welcoming a child who needed somewhere safe to live into our home and they readily accepted that our family would expand.
“I was somewhat surprised when our first placement was a 16-year-old boy, I think I had assumed because of the age of our own children that our first foster placement would be under 10, but ‘Jack’ has fitted in so well. We are delighted to have seen positive changes in his behaviour, and his communication and social skills and were proud when in July 2021, he joined army college and he is hoping to receive his call up soon. He has really become part of the family and the children love playing with him or posting notes under his bedroom door. We were recently in isolation with Covid, and ‘Jack’ has been such a help popping to do some food shopping and cooking a meal for us.
“I am currently pregnant with our third child, and we have been approved to have two foster children, so we are looking forward to welcoming a new baby and another foster child. However, It goes without saying that no matter how many foster children we support in the future ’Jack’ will always have a place in our family and our children will always have a big brother.”
Katie’s Mum, Karen Parker 67, welcomed ‘John’ into her home for a six-week placement when he was 21. John stayed in Karen’s care until 2009 and the six weeks turned in to 22 years.
Karen said, “Katie was 9 months old when I started fostering to give families some respite care, so she doesn’t remember our family without a foster placement. As a child Katie loved children and always gravitated towards them and she was always so very good with ‘John’ who she thought of as her older brother. I always knew that she would surround herself with children, so it didn’t surprise me one bit when she and her husband said that they were going to welcome foster children into their home.
“Fostering ‘John’ was so rewarding for all our family, and I wouldn’t change anything about our lives together. He was such a character, I vividly remember a period when he would sneak out of his room in the night, fill the sink full to the brim with water and then splash himself. My support worker suggested an alarm outside his room which would alert me, but ‘John’ was very quick to work out that if he took a wide step, he wouldn’t wake me! Sadly, he died when he was 44, but we were fortunate to be able to reunite him with one of his sisters before he passed.
“Fostering is such a rewarding career, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it a career choice. I am delighted the Katie had chosen this path and to think I might have inspired her decision fills me with joy.”
There are many children who need safe and secure homes and the charity Diagrama would love to hear from anyone who might like to consider becoming a foster carer. www.diagramafostering.org.uk
Diagrama Fostering is an independent, not-for-profit fostering agency. Diagrama foster carers provide a supportive environment for “looked after” children across south London, Surrey, East and West Sussex, Berkshire, Kent, and Hampshire.
The Diagrama agency is small enough to offer a personalised fostering experience while benefitting from the expertise and security that comes with being part of the larger Diagrama charitable foundation. www.diagramafoundation.org.uk
Diagrama works with many local authorities and gives their carers access to a wide and varied range of children in need of care.