Connected Carers, in Western Sydney, exists to build a strong community where carers feel loved, valued, encouraged, supported and inspired whilst doing the ministry of caring. The heart of Connected Carers is to gather Christian carers to be a light in the Out-of-Home Care space.
Inspired by James 1:27, Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, Connected Carers create a space for past, present, or prospective Foster or Kinship carers to be part of a community sharing in the unique journey of caring for vulnerable children and their families.
Connected Carers meet bi-monthly on a Sunday afternoon. The gatherings are hosted at a church café involving afternoon tea, live music, child-minding and a panel of those with valuable wisdom and experience to share with the group. The panel is focused on a relevant topic in the Out-of-Home Care space and carers with lived experience as well as professionals in the field share and answer questions. These are great opportunities to bring together Christians at all stages of the journey, whether professionals in their field, or those just beginning to consider if Foster Care is for them.
Alongside Connected Carers, a new sister group has been formed called Connected Community, which runs once a month at a local park on a Saturday morning. This group was formed as an option for carers who did not feel comfortable gathering in the church space. This community has more of a casual social focus.
For both groups, it’s all about connection. Friendships are formed and opportunities are created for ongoing relational support on a more regular basis, access to an equipment library, and even links to accessing respite support.
Melissa has been fostering for three years and has found invaluable emotional and practical support from Connected Carers in their journey as a Foster family. She says, “Each time we connect as group, our family comes away feeling encouraged and valued in our role as Foster Carers. We have found a safe space to ask questions, seek feedback and problem solve.”
Another carer from Western Sydney who cares for a child through a Permanent Care placement and is also a Foster Carer, says, “The many challenges experienced whilst Foster caring, both caring for the children as well as navigating the system, can be difficult, stressful, and personally taxing. There are very limited places where Foster Carers can go to mix with others who are experiencing (or have experienced) similar situations. The mutual understanding, respect and empathy we have for one another as Foster Carers is a lifeline of support that I have not encountered anywhere else. Connected Carers is an oasis of care and support, providing a safe and informative space to carers at the ‘coal-face’ everyday, working to improve the outcomes for the children in their care.”
Connected Carers would love to connect with churches or carers who are interested in running their own support group or in engaging Connected Carers to run it with you. For more information contact Hayley via email@example.com.
Perhaps your church is in a position to host gatherings for carers and create spaces for meaningful and supportive connection for those opening their homes and ultimately for the kids needing the loving, healing home carers are providing. Explore Carer Gatherings further at the link below.