House Rules, Channel 7's top rating renovation series, has give Barnardos Australia the chance to receive a free make-over for a foster family house.
The final three teams were given the challenge by host Johanna Griggs. Barnardos Australia staff - Program Manager Jo Villa and office administrator Nicki Gibb - and Barnardos Australia foster carer Sharon, briefed the teams, telling them about the history of the house and what it is used for.
Originally bequeathed from a local couple and left to Barnardos more than 25 years ago, the house has been used in the past as emergency accommodation and for staff and carer training. It is now mostly used as a holiday house for Barnardos foster families and children in their care, as well as families in Barnardos support programs, many of which have never experienced a holiday.
“The children that come into our care have been through very tough times in their young lives and many have never had a holiday or even seen the ocean," said Jo.
"For them to be able to come to this house with their foster families and have somewhere safe where they can have some fun is very important for them. It also gives our carers a chance to have a break too, which we all need sometimes.”
The team brief for the renovation specified the house should be functional and child friendly, but also have a seaside holiday feeling.
Nicki says the house had only had basic maintenance for many years and was in desperate need of some TLC.
"We have no budget for any improvements and were hoping to get a donation of paint this year so we could give it a coat of paint, but this is more than we could ever imagine. Our children and families will be thrilled,” she said.
The teams worked hard to design and renovate the house, and the good cause seemed to spur them on. They were all moved by Barnardos foster carer Sharon’s words. Sharon has stayed at the house in the past with her foster children.
“Some of the children I have cared for in the past have come from a very dark place where they haven’t been free to just enjoy their childhood," Sharon said.
''For example, they never had anything to write about when they came back to school and were asked to write about what they did on their holidays. Just being able to have this house to come to and relax and be a kid for a while allows them to make some new happy memories. Then when they go back to school they have something positive to write about what they did in the holidays.”
Foster caring is in Sharon's blood. Her parents were also foster carers, so growing up she had lots of foster children come and stay with the family. She has followed in their footsteps and even though she has three children of her own, Sharon has fostered more than 30 children over seven years in Barnardos' crisis care program.
“As a foster carer, having children come into the home is a really positive thing for my children. They have grown up with it and love having children come and stay with us. It is so grounding for them and it makes them appreciate so much we can take for granted. We feel sharing our home with children who haven’t had their basic needs met is a wonderful thing to do,” she said.
Sharon says Barnardos is in great need of crisis carers to open their home and hearts to a child in desperate need and encourages people to find out more about becoming a foster carer.
Keep watching House Rules to see the teams work their magic and transform the house into a holiday haven for our children and families.
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