Fostering has been part of life for Ian Nancollis and his wife Alex for nearly two decades, and they have enjoyed the chance to make a difference to children’s lives in a variety of different ways.

Having started by offering shared care and respite placements, they have experienced children of various ages, including a mother-and-baby placement, and now support teenagers.

It was, says solicitor Ian, something they almost fell into by default but, while teens can bring different challenges to those presented by younger children, they can also offer sometimes greater rewards.

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The 46-year-old said: “There are swings and roundabouts with teenagers. Sometimes their behaviours are more extreme but also your ability to reason with them is much higher.

“Trying to reason with an angry five-year-old who doesn’t know why he’s angry is difficult but with teenagers you can reason more and they can usually explain better why they’re feeling the way they are.

“Also, because their behaviours can be more obvious, the changes can appear bigger and be more obvious and the rewards are proportionately bigger.”

It’s not just their behaviours and what causes them that teenagers can be better at understanding, Ian explained. He added: “I think in some ways because you can have a discussion with teenagers and they can understand, I think they’re better able to see when they have been helped and therefore sometimes you get better feedback from them about how their experience has been.

“You can get a lot of positive feedback from teenagers. In the same way that they express their problems, they also express their gratitude.”

Caring for teenagers also fits well around family life with daughters Evie, 14, and Lily, 10, Ian says. Evie, being that bit older, is more able to understand the needs of the youngsters who stay with them, while Lily enjoys playing alongside them, enabling them to experience a part of childhood that children in care have sometimes lacked.

And the family are helped in their efforts by positive support from the county council. Ian said: “Having social workers who come round who you can offload your problems to and who can give support and advice is helpful and reassuring. Having someone to work with makes a big difference.

“That support and advice is there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

To find out more about fostering with Cumbria County Council, visit