Roselle Potts gave up her law career to foster unaccompanied asylum-seekers Hari, 16, and Ben, 15

'It’s nice to see them relaxed'


6.30am


We have to get up early because the boys go to a school that's quite far away. It's a school I chose for them when they came to us 19 months ago because it's got such a good language support unit and they allowed Hari to go back a year on account of him being behind educationally. It's not that he isn't bright – but the country he comes from had a war on, which affected his education. It means the boys are in the same year, which is nice for them because, although they're from different countries, they are so close that they feel like brothers.

I'm fully expecting Hari to get some passes in his GCSEs, even though he's done less than the whole curriculum and didn't speak a word of English when he arrived here. Ben is much more practical and I think will do really well vocationally. These are two boys that arrived on the back of a lorry, frightened and traumatised. I'm very proud of how far they've come.

Once the boys are up, they and my 11-year-old daughter, Hazel, have breakfast and get the bus to school. The exception to this is Mondays, when the boys have home tuition in English as a second language. I sit in on the sessions so I learn more about helping them improve their English in our everyday life.

8.30am

Once my husband, who is a university lecturer, and my daughter and the boys have left, I sometimes do a bit of freelance work or work on my Open University degree in childhood and youth studies. I used to work full-time as a lawyer in a specialist young person's law centre. When I was there, I noticed the kids in the care system who were the most "OK" were the ones who'd been fostered at some point. I decided I'd like to get involved in fostering myself. Other mornings, it's just a case of clearing up the house, doing the washing and so on.

11am

Some days, I'm invited to training sessions run by my fostering agency on issues such as dealing with alcohol and drugs, how to support your children with school work or helping your foster children make secure attachments. They're really helpful, especially when foster carers who have been through these issues do talks. You get to cross-question them in a safe environment. It was a foster carer in one of these training sessions who suggested I do family trees with the boys as a way of getting them to open up about their families, and it worked really well. Other days, I might have meetings with social services or I get on with things like the shopping.

1pm

A lot of my time now is spent doing normal mummy things such as cooking and baking bread – a world away from my life as a lawyer, when all the household things were squashed into a weekend. Even on Saturdays and Sundays, and indeed during weekday evenings, I'd often have to do work. It's nice to be out of the nine-to-five rat race, but still feel I'm working – it's just a different kind of work.

3.45pm

My daughter loves it that I'm now here to chat to when she comes in from school. She says home life is much more pleasant. She often brings friends home, which wasn't really practical before.

Hari is a very talented footballer, so he often has football training at this time and doesn't get back until 5pm. Ben really loves the gym, and two or three nights a week he goes there with friends. Other days, they have friends over or go to friends' houses or visit the cinema. But they have to ask first. In the first few weeks of being here, they just used to wander off and not tell me.

5pm

If the boys have been out, they come back any time from now onwards, at which point we'll cook together. Part of what I need to teach them as a foster carer are independent skills, and they're now very good at planning meals and cooking anything from bread to pizza. They've taught me to do some of their native specialities too.

7pm

One of my few house rules is all sitting down together for a family dinner, unless they have permission because of something like a football match. I also have a rule that we all speak English at the dinner table and everyone has to participate. It was my husband's idea, and, although it was stilted at first, conversation really flows now.

It's the boys' job to load the dishwasher, although they often tease Hazel that, if we were living in their culture, it would be her job to do things like cook and clean up. The three of them get on very well. She was describing them as her brothers within a week of them arriving. Last year, all three of them went on an activity holiday. She would never have gone on her own, so that was lovely.

8pm

Everyone gets on with any homework after dinner. I'm around to help if they need it. Then we might watch a bit of TV. It's so nice to see the boys so relaxed. They arrived so anxious and withdrawn as a result of the trauma they'd been through, and now their personalities have really come out. One friend said to me the other day: "It's good to see them being naughty." I know what she means – it's great to see them doing normal things like kicking each other under the dinner table. One thing my husband and I really wanted was for them to have fun.

9.30pm

Persuading the boys to go to bed has never been a problem, although if it's the weekend the boys will often go out. After they're in bed, I have a bit of time to watch TV or chat with my husband. Sometimes we'll have organised a babysitter so that we have an evening out. Or if it's on an evening my daughter is at a sleepover, we don't even need a babysitter because the boys can fend for themselves.

11pm

Bedtime for me! I always sleep well.

The boys' names have been changed

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Primary Teacher

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: KS1 KS2 Crewe Teacher Perm Ch...

Primary Teacher

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education is the lea...

Primary Teacher

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: KS1 KS2 Teaching Cheshire

Primary Teacher

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Long term position in large p...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal