Frazer spent time in foster care during his teenage years, he is now the proud owner of Harrow & Harvest cafe in Lilydale. He provides us an insight into his time in care and shares some advice to young people who are currently navigating the Out-of-Home Care system.
How old where you when you first entered foster care and how long did you spend in care over the years?
When I first entered care, I was 14 years old. I was in foster care for a total of one-and-a-half years.
How many different foster homes do you think you lived in? Where you placed with your siblings? Or if not, did you still get to see them?
I was placed in two different foster homes. I was not with my siblings but I did get to see them on occasion.
Is there any one particular foster carer or even Case Manager who stands out to you during your time in care? And why? What was it in particular that helped you?
When I was in care, I had a Case Manager named April. April was so full of joy and happiness. Every interaction, every phone call and at every home visit, I had a giant smile on my face. April had a way of always making me feel at ease, safe, listened to, and like someone cared about where I ended up. April’s nurturing and caring spirit helped me a lot and I honestly don’t think I would have been so content and relaxed in foster care if I didn’t have her to always call if I needed someone to talk to.
What were the hardest parts of being in foster care? Conversely, what where some of the good parts? Are there any memories or stories that you remember fondly that you can share?
The best part of being in foster care was the sense of belonging and family I felt whilst being in care.
In my foster home I always had food, I was always warm and felt safe. Having access to those basic necessities every day, along with feeling loved and welcomed in my foster home, were what made my journey in care so great.
A really incredible memory I have is how Hilary my carer taught me a lot about plants and gardening. She had an incredible garden that was like a forest. Daily I would help her in the garden and she would teach me about certain plants and growing vegetables. I often come back to these memories and think of them from time to time. As a grown adult now, gardening and plants are a huge part of my life and I always cherish and look back on the time I spent with Hilary in the garden as such a positive and life enabling part of my journey.
One of the hardest things about being in care was dealing with my feelings of abandonment, loneliness at times and often feeling like I was a failure. Even though I sometimes had hard days I had just as many good days, days where I didn’t feel any of those emotions and I felt so cared for.
Some people say they couldn’t be foster carers because it would be too hard to say goodbye, or they are worried about the impact being a foster carer would have on their emotional health. What would you say to these people? Would you tell them to still give it a go and why?
For those who want to delve into the world of being a foster carer but are unsure. I would say, ‘the world needs you.’
Hilary my carer probably doesn’t know the prolific impact she had on my life. Little parts of her rubbed off on me and her positive influence was a big part of me growing into the man I am today.
You may never know how much you can change and transform someone’s life. Even if it’s only for a short time, the care you are giving is essential to that young person’s life and they need you. They need somewhere to feel safe, they need somewhere to call home and most importantly they need to feel a sense of community and family to help them grow into who they’re going to be.
No journey comes without hard times, and I can’t even begin to imagine what it must feel for a carer to have to say goodbye. But if you just imagine all the good you’ve done and all the help and nourishment you’ve provided to these young kids, you’ve done something incredible that will change that young person forever and hopefully do the same for you.
Tell us a bit about yourself currently and what you do for a living? Have there been any experiences in care that have helped you in your current role?
I currently own my own café in Lilydale Victoria called Harrow & Harvest. I have a team of eight and manage my entire business with my partner. I wear many different hats from payroll, to HR, to creative director – the list goes on.
Before doing this I put myself through school whilst working full time as a makeup artist. I worked hard to achieve three diplomas plus I got the fantastic opportunity to travel around the world working as a creative director for makeup shows and runways.
To achieve all of this I really had to leverage my life experience. I used what I’d gone through in my life as fuel to excel in any task that came my way. My time in care and all the hard times I’ve faced in my life have made me robust, fearless and strong.
Running my business from day to day I have become someone who can think outside the box, come up with new ideas and never be afraid to jump into the deep end.
What would your message be to other young people in foster care? What sort of things would you want them to know about what it’s like for you now as an adult who was formerly in care?
You’re most probably going to find this as one of the hardest times of your life, but if you can embrace the journey for what it is and except all the good that’s coming your way, it will also be one of the best times.
A new home, new people to get to know and a whole new journey. For some this may happen a few times until you find the right fit and that’s completely ok! All the people around you right now, your case manager, your foster family, they all want the best for you. At the end of the day they want to see you happy. You have so much support at your fingertips. Reach out and grab it! Take every opportunity that comes your way and imagine yourself in five years’ time. Imagine the things you want, who you want to be and focus on your potential instead of your past. Yes, your past is such a huge factor of your present but if we focus on our potential and what we can achieve with such a big support system around us, there’s nothing we can’t do.
Many times in my life growing up I felt feelings of not being good enough, or feelings of abandonment and sadness. If you harness these emotions and use them to your advantage you will see so much happiness from all your hard work and dedication. You deserve all the happiness in the world, you deserve to feel loved and cared for and you deserve to have to chance to make a really amazing life for yourself.
If you put in the hard work, ten years from now you will look back and be so proud of yourself for achieving all your hopes and dreams, even when the odds may have been stacked against you.