It was inevitable really that I would end up working in our family business. Or was it? Who would have thought it way back when I was 10 years old and we started to foster teenage young people in our home that 27 years on I would be involved in running an ‘outstanding’ fostering provider. It’s been an interesting journey! It all started with mum and dad helping out at our youth club, they ran a business selling basket ware ( the in thing in the 80’s I believe) But then helping out with young people drew my parents into ‘befriending’, youth and community work and social work and then fostering. Actually having young people in your home had its ups and downs, as well as us three girls, we often had one or two other young people living with us. It was hard at times sharing your parents or your bedroom (in those days you could). There were some interesting characters, one a girl punk who had amazing pictures painted on her face, wild backcombed hair, who dressed in black and chains. Even now I can remember what her room smelt like, sort of a musty smell and perfume mixed together. Then there was the lad who liked to body pop and taught me a few moves as well. A boy who stole things, a girl who dressed as a boy and many more. There was one girl I remember really well, it felt as though she was one of us (I have two younger sisters) she was a similar age to us and fitted in but sadly things did not work out and we were all left with a lot of sadness. I met her a few years ago and found out she had called her daughter the same name as mine. I feel really honoured to know that there is another Allé out there. Many came and went throughout the years but each one and each experience taught my sisters and I things about ourselves and others. For example how do you communicate with someone when almost everything they tell you is a lie, or someone has lost the use of their arm in a motorbike accident, or lost both their parents or were sexually abused by family members? All these experiences….. and only a child myself.
But they shaped and formed me into who I am today. As a teenager, I decided to become a teacher because I thought this would give me the most opportunity to help make a difference in children’s lives. During my training and practice in schools I found myself drawn to the kids that lacked self esteem, did not speak in class, never smiled or laughed, did not like school. The rewards of seeing them blossom and smile with pride as you stood them up in front of their class and showed their wonderful piece of work and gave them a sticker inspired me to go onto teaching children who were in foster care and excluded from schools. I realised that it was children’s self worth and not education that was inspiring to me. Later I gained my qualification and MA in Play Therapy. It was then that I came and worked for Chrysalis Care nearly 10 years ago. My parents had set it up in 1997 after many years of working in the public and private sector with looked after young people. Chrysalis Care comes from the family, it is home grown as they say, (even the offices were in our home originally). My youngest sister is a Social worker and a Director of Chrysalis Care too and will have her own story to tell. My middle sister is a foster carer for children with disabilities in Reading. So perhaps it was inevitable that all three of us with our experiences growing up in a fostering household would have our future mapped out in the caring profession. I certainly never imagined that I would be involved in running a family business helping so many others make a difference in children’s lives.
Caring for children and young people is at the heart and foundation of Chrysalis Care. Our logo says “Transforming Lives” and we really believe that children in our care will have their lives transformed. Perhaps what we do not always acknowledge, is how our lives are transformed also.
By Allé Pflaumer