Forty-one-year-old Jon Powton lives in Burnley, Lancashire, with his wife and two foster children. Diagnosed with Becker muscular dystrophy, at the age of 17, Jon hasn’t let his disability stop him from striving to reach his goals. Jon says foster caring has changed his life, and he is now encouraging other people with disabilities to consider it.
When I received my diagnosis, it was earth-shattering. I’d only just started doing an engineering apprenticeship and I felt like my life had been turned upside down
I wasn’t offered any emotional support, I was just told to get on with it. I decided to take a year out from my college course – it was a difficult time.I soon realised that I needed to change my way of thinking. I went back to my course more focused, and driven to achieve. I worked as a successful engineer all over the country, but as the years went by, I could feel my symptoms worsening. My legs were getting heavier, and would buckle and give way, and I was starting to find it harder to get around. In 2002 I was made redundant, and after that, I started working as a Property Developer.
I met my wife Denise about 14 years ago. We made a conscious decision not to have our own kids, as I didn’t want to risk passing Becker on. Maybe that sounds selfish but it was a personal choice. In 2011 I realised it was time for a change, and decided to see if I could foster. I had little expectation if I’m honest, after so many knock backs from employers I expected to be told I wasn’t able to do this.
The National Fostering Agency make me feel valued – I foster on my abilities, not my disabilities. The procedure of being approved as foster carers took about 5 months in total. We’ve fostered three children in total, and for the last three years, we have fostered two boys, who are now three, and six years old.As a family, we love playing tennis together, and going swimming. It is so rewarding watching the boys learn new things. Though I don’t play tennis myself I hasten to add!
Fostering really is one of the best things I have ever done – I would encourage anyone to give it a go. It gives you the opportunity to change your life, and the lives of others, for the better. Over 10,000 foster families are needed in the UK today and there are 11,000,000 disabled people in the UK. If less than 1% of the disabled population became foster carers, the shortage would be wiped out.
I also want people to know about the invaluable support that Muscular Dystrophy UK offers. There can be times when things can get on top of us as a family, and times when we need practical advice on things like housing adaptions – it is great to know that we can count on Muscular Dystrophy UK to be there.”
To find out more about becoming a foster carer, contact visit the National Fostering Agency’s website.
The charity is here to help. Our helpline offers free information and emotional support and is open from 8.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday.