Hi I am Sharon Cavaliere Director for Calon Cymru Fostering. I have worked for Calon Cymru coming up to 20 years, although that’s pretty hard to believe. It certainly doesn’t feel like 20 years! I came to this agency as a Supervising Social Worker and worked in a variety of roles since such as Learning and Development Officer, Head of Quality Assurance until I became a Director about 6 years ago. I love my job, I really do. I love the people I work with and I am proud to have the role I have. It is a role that I take seriously, for me it is not about status – the most important thing for me is that people trust me to lead them and know I am here for them.

I have had the pleasure of working alongside so many Foster Carers over the years – it is how I have learned so much, listening and learning from Foster Carers and their experiences. It never ceases to amaze me the level of resilience that Foster Carers have, how they treat each day like a new day and how they treat the Foster Child as they would want their own children to be treated, loved, respected and wanting the best for them.

The staff I work alongside are equally exceptional, I know it isn’t just a job to them, they take pride in their work and they genuinely want to play a role in making a difference in children and young people’s lives. They are also dedicated to supporting Foster Carers.

Lockdown has been a whole new experience, to say the least. For those that know me I am a talker, I love people and to be around people. Being home-based without any choice was a challenge in the early days of lockdown. However, I am a pretty upbeat person and more importantly, I was aware that people would be looking to me for direction, reassurance, and leadership. Well, it certainly didn’t take long to get things up and running and working virtually. I thank my staff group for that, they made it happen.

We continue to work in this whole new virtual way and whilst that doesn’t always fit with social work we have made it work. Technology has certainly been our friend. We have continued to recruit carers, support, and train and see people face to face, it is just done differently through devices such as phones, Ipads, and laptops right now!

People have asked me how I deal with stress – usually, it would be to go to the gym however, that hasn’t been an option so it has been taking up cycling again which I have loved. I am also blessed to have a fab husband who is a Chef, but I have had to calm down a bit with the food situation! I have to say Food has been a good distraction…..too good.  However, a massive highlight has been our 12-month-old Boxer dog called Enzo. He is loving having his Mum and Dad home….dread to think what will happen when we go back to normal. He has been a delight – pushed us to walk him, play with him, and just enjoy laughing at him! He waits until 5 O’clock for cuddle time and another walk!

The NHS and Carers are pretty much heroes right now and I have to say I have shed a few tears listening to friends who are nursing and the immense pressure they are under. Long shifts, not seeing their families, and just emotionally drained. They are all doing such a remarkable job.

However, I have said from the beginning of lockdown and maintain the view that our Foster Carers and staff have also been heroes during this difficult time. Foster Carers have kept going, kept focused on the needs of the children and young people they are caring for. They have taken time to reassure children and young people and make sure they have felt safe. They have also really ‘thought outside the box’  to give children and young people a sense of fun with activities, games, and pursue interests.  I am also so proud of the staff I work alongside. Many of which have their own young families, or parents/family they cannot see, but have remained focused on their role of keeping the agency running safely and effectively and ensuring our Foster Carers have remained supported.

To our Carers and staff thank you from the bottom of my heart you are awesome and very special people. Be proud of yourselves you deserve it.

Sharon Cavaliere