A north-east foster family want to add their mementoes of playing in the great outdoors to the Press & Journal and Evening Express’s time capsule project.
Natasha Robinson works as an educational psychologist with Aberdeenshire Council and has been foster caring with her husband Buzz for a decade.
Schools across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are taking part in the Press & Journal and Evening Express’ Time Capsule Project, which will collect mementoes of lockdown and store them away for future generations.
During the last lockdown, Natasha and Buzz decided to support another foster family as well as looking after their own two birth children Laurie and Joseph who are six and eight and their foster children Tia and Joseph who are 14 and 15.
On Fridays, a seven-year-old boy joined them to take part in outdoor learning activities and the little group found solace in using the den they’d built during the first lockdown and a firepit in the local woods as a base to enjoy games, orienteering and outdoor snacks.
As part of the Press & Journal and Evening Express’s time capsule project, they hope to add the photos taken during their time in the woods.
Natasha said the days spent in the forest during the Covid-19 lockdown were a “positive experience.”
“There was a lot of sliding around on ice or sliding down hills as well as cooking by the fire and the children really enjoyed this as part of their lockdown routine.
“Having another little boy join us was great as it was someone new to play with and he really enjoyed building up physical stamina as well as confidence and emotional resilience.
“It was great to turn something really negative (lockdown) into a positive experience for the children and it also gave me an opportunity to learn and grow in different ways and in areas I hadn’t considered before.”
Natasha’s foster care daughter Tia also attended the hub at Mackie Academy during lockdown and says she wishes school could be like that all the time.
She joined a nurture group of young people, many of whom were care experienced, and who gained a lot from the additional support.
As well as school work, there was a big focus on wellbeing activities such as tea and biscuits, walks outside and afternoons when they watched films or played games.
Natasha added: “I remember one of the key things parents said children and young people were struggling with during lockdown was lack of routine with school missing. Our Fridays gave us something to look forward to. You need a plan, especially with children who are looked after, so you have some stability when everything else around you is changing.”
Tia and her brother Joseph joined Natasha and Buzz’s family almost six years ago, when their own children were just six and 18 months old.
They are now with the family permanently, at least until the age of 21. Natasha and her husband have been fostering for 10 years, after deciding this was the best way they could continue to support young people when they moved on from working in residential care roles.
Natasha’s husband Buzz said their foster children are very much part of the family and their own kids do not remember them not being part of it.
He said: “Our boys don’t remember a time without Tia and Joseph and we all feel really lucky to have each other.
“We benefitted from hearing good stories about foster carers from young people we worked with in a children’s home and we also have a strong belief that everyone alive is loved and it’s our collective responsibility to look after children and young people who don’t have a family of their own.
“There are lots of people who could foster who don’t and I suppose I want them to know it’s a really rewarding thing to do.”