When children and babies come to May and George Nelson to be fostered, they often arrive scared and withdrawn, sometimes with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.
However, after weeks and months of cosy beds, daily routines, healthy food and good care, these same children are flourishing.
Warm, kind and dedicated, May and George from Dalkeith are typical foster carers with Midlothian Council.
The Nelsons have been fostering now for 18 years. May had done volunteer work before with children in a crèche. She wanted to get back into a career. When George saw a fostering advert on the back of a bus, he noted down the number and they called up. May was the first of them to go through the training. Four years later George joined her.
He said: “If I’m out and I tell people what I do, people often say ‘how can you do that?’. I tell them to just try it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
May agreed and stressed that having the support of their extended family has been vital.
She said: “Fostering has to work for your whole family so I’d say to people to think about what age group of children you might want to foster first so they fit in with your family. You do need a good family behind you and you also need good social workers.”
Despite missing the children when they move on, the Nelsons keep in touch with some of them for ever.
“Afterwards, it can feel like a bit of bereavement for a while but a lot of children we’ve fostered actually came along to our wedding, which was lovely. So we get to keep in contact with a lot of them,” said George.
The Nelsons would urge anyone thinking about fostering a child to come along to Midlothian Council’s drop-in event next Wednesday (September 7) from 5.30pm to 8pm.
May said: “Fostering is so rewarding. To see them when they first come, their faces blank, no emotion, and then to see their confidence growing is great.
“You see them making new friends and going to sports clubs with us cheering them on. It makes you feel really good about yourself.”