The life of a foster dad with Phil Sharrock

The life of a foster dad with Phil Sharrock

Episode 45
54:58

Description:

In today’s episode, we are talking about foster families with Phil.

Phil is a former head teacher who became a foster dad a few years ago.

He shares his experience, helps us understand the process to become a foster parent, the importance of having a steady routine and the hopes he has for foster families.

Hope you will enjoy this episode!

 

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Episode Transcript:

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Julie Pabion: hi phil how are you today.


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Phil Sharrock: hi Julie i’m very well, thank you said, the weather's a little bit better than yesterday So yes, it's it’s very nice.


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Julie Pabion: To meet you what a great month of July, but yeah so today we’re going to talk about fostering as your foster dad but before we jump in, could you please introduce yourself.


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Phil Sharrock: My name is phil shahrukh Khan married to my wife called it, we been fostering for about four years prior to that I was a teacher.


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Phil Sharrock: I used to roam around the country fixing schools that were in a mess and getting them into a better place into a more stable place my wife is a teacher, I have.


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Phil Sharrock: Two children from a previous relationship, who are 1816 who come over here really regularly and mix with the family and do everything else presence, we have a eight year old boy who is a long term placement forest.


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Phil Sharrock: Through till when he’s 18 and what we stand for, and we have a 15 year old young lady who has been with us for just over a year and a year, five months, and she is hopefully going to be a long term placement through to when she’s it’s that magical 18 years old, as well, so that’s me briefly.


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Julie Pabion: Nice nice Nice and so before we really get into the subjects, could you tell me what is your definition of like being a foster dad.


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Phil Sharrock: I would view it very much as being an extension of being a biological dad it’s it’s not to me it’s not really made it.


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Phil Sharrock: though these children come to you and you I treat them very much as I would my own children, but you have to be acutely aware that these children have been through experiences that you would.


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Phil Sharrock: That you wouldn’t wish on your children so.


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Phil Sharrock: The hope is that when these show you know that these children are going to be coming to you that you are given as much information.


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Phil Sharrock: as possible, so that you can provide an environment that is going to be right for them and enable them to the second with you and and have a good time while they’re here and get some.


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Phil Sharrock: feel valued and loved and important and secure and safe and.


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Phil Sharrock: You know that doesn’t know what happened but.


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Phil Sharrock: You know I see them, I see them as my own kids really and look at look after them in that way to make sure that they’re protected and they’ve got everything that they could possibly need.


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Phil Sharrock: and want until they’re ready to either move on or go to a more permanent placement or whatever, whatever is going to happen to them.


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Julie Pabion: Right Okay, and is there, for example, like a set amount of time that you get a chance for or, as you said, it’s more it’s really depends on the situation.


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Phil Sharrock: yeah I mean what kids can come to us for lots and lots of different reasons, some some could be just for a response, some that current long term care is might be having a week’s holiday and they.


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Phil Sharrock: They come to you for a week or a weekend or a week or a fortnight and they might just be just with you for a couple of couple a couple of nights you might end up with an emergency placement, so a child has been taken into care.


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Phil Sharrock: That afternoon, and then they arrive at your House, they just been taken away from their home and they are brought to you, and they might be with you for.


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Phil Sharrock: A few days until a permanent placements he’s met phone for them, or it might take a few weeks.


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Phil Sharrock: To get them that permanent placement and you could have children come to you on what they call a short term basis, in other words let’s not next step on from arriving and then.


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Phil Sharrock: They come somewhere and that they could be with you for a few weeks, a few months, and sometimes short terms turn into about two or three years, which is wrong, but that’s what does happen.


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Phil Sharrock: And then, sometimes a short term placement could be turned into a long term placement, which is what has happened with with the two kids that we’ve got at the moment, they were they were both short term to begin with, and then, after a period of time with as the authorities were.


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Phil Sharrock: keen to give them stability and said would would you like to have them for a long term, and you know after the work and effort that we don’t put in together the you know both ways.


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Phil Sharrock: Everybody sort of said yeah we’d like.


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Phil Sharrock: That so you could have long term, you could have parent and child fostering so you could end up with a young couple.


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Phil Sharrock: With a baby and who need to come and need a home and need somewhere to stay for a little while.


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Phil Sharrock: While you while you support them and and keep an eye on them to make sure that they’re doing, really, really well with that little baby, you might end up with a single mom with a baby, you might end up with a 29 year old woman with a baby.


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Phil Sharrock: there’s all different types of fostering and they come from all walks of life, all different ages, you know at the moment, eight year old and 15 year old, I might say 14 she only other birthday, three days ago, so I might keep.


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Saying.


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Phil Sharrock: And, but you know if you if you’ve got we do have another room but it’s not it’s sort of available but isn’t.


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Phil Sharrock: And, and when that room opens up, we could end up with, we could end up with a two year old walking in.


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Phil Sharrock: And we could end up with a we could end up with a 17 year old walking in we could end up with three siblings who were three, four and five walking in.


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Phil Sharrock: For a short term placement or a better response, or whatever, who knows it depends on those children that are taken into care and unfortunately we’re seeing record numbers of children being taken into care.


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Phil Sharrock: With not in almost every.


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Julie Pabion: Yes, oh that’s very interesting, I understand, a lot more so, how did you get into fostering in the first place, what was the process.


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Phil Sharrock: I got some kitchen from my previous relationship, there were no, no, no 18 and 16 so they’re kind of growing up and and a couple of teenagers who hate the world and just.


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Phil Sharrock: You know they’re figuring themselves out there Greg.


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Phil Sharrock: I think everybody is is all teenagers and they.


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Phil Sharrock: And they come and stay quite frequently, and so my wife and I, my wife doesn’t have any children.


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Phil Sharrock: And so my kids calm and ago they got them that and they’re over sort of every week and and and it was great and then my wife, a few years ago, said, you know quite can we ever look at fostering and.


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Phil Sharrock: We were at that point, both of us in our education careers.


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Phil Sharrock: of wanting to get out wanting to move on and because it wasn’t the education we weren’t we’re not educating kids how I want to see children being educated it’s becoming.


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Phil Sharrock: Not a very nice system, I don’t think so, but that aside and so cool was really interested in in fostering I thought well yeah that’s.


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Phil Sharrock: Fine we’ve got the space we’ve got some room, you know it will be, it will be a good thing to do as well because we’ve got all this.


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Phil Sharrock: we’ve got lots and lots of experience of dealing with children over over the last 30 years and we thought it could be a really wonderful experience to try and do it, so we made we made an initial inquiry with our local authority and we’re given a very.


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Phil Sharrock: very blunt and tick box.


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Phil Sharrock: response really there was no human empathy or understanding anything at all.


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Phil Sharrock: So we still we sort of said well i’m not going i’m not going with our local authority which is Wolverhampton i’m not afraid to say, which is Wolverhampton and which was very sad.


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Phil Sharrock: And so we looked around for a an independent fostering agency and that one came available, and they were doing a little sort of roadshow down down the road, so we went and had a chat.


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Phil Sharrock: And then they came out and they had a good conversation with us, and then we were they were happy to take us forward we we were happy to.


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Phil Sharrock: After our initial questions were answered and see where we went we went through We then went through the process of getting our what they call it everybody has to go through a section APP which is like an initial assessment and it takes.


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Phil Sharrock: months and months and months, it takes about nine months.


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Phil Sharrock: Which is absolutely bonkers in this day and.


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Julie Pabion: Age.


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Phil Sharrock: It takes, you know that amount of time for people from a sort of initial inquiry to become be in a position to be able to be allowed to have foster children.


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Phil Sharrock: You know it’s it, they need to sort it out and get the process speeded up, you know, yes, the safety of the children is absolutely paramount, but really nine months.


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Phil Sharrock: You know, and it can take longer you know he got suppose there are aspects where it could be done quick over they need to get their act together and sort of that process.


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Phil Sharrock: Until they got all the forms filled in, and then they went to panel and the whole, then you know ask us some questions and and we were we were accepted as a foster carers back in.


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Phil Sharrock: Right over just over three and a bit years ago.


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Julie Pabion: hmm right, so you have a list of criteria is that you need to meet in order to become.


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Julie Pabion: be able to be okay.


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Julie Pabion: Oh yeah you share some of the of the requirements.


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Phil Sharrock: When you go through this.


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Julie Pabion: Section F.


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Phil Sharrock: procedure and.


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Phil Sharrock: it’ll almost see you have to put you have to put your hand on your heart and be unbelievably transparent and honest.


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Phil Sharrock: Now we all live a rich tapestry of life there are things that have happened in my life that i’m not particularly proud of, and we all have those things that are not joyful from our from our histories, but you.


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Julie Pabion: have to be honest.


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Phil Sharrock: Because they they have to check and they have to make sure that that is not going to interfere or be part of your life.


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Phil Sharrock: Now.


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Julie Pabion: The full.


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Phil Sharrock: criminal records checks everything he’s done into you so my advice to anybody who thinks they want to become a foster care when you’re going through that section of be honest just be honest, you know, and there are things that the guy who did it the independent.


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Phil Sharrock: social worker who did our reception and a lovely guy called Mike he knows.


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Phil Sharrock: He knows more about me than my dad does.


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Phil Sharrock: My mobile 20 years ago which he knows a lot more about me there’s only there’s only my wife really that no seats.


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Phil Sharrock: All my little secrets my wife knows more but Mike knows and and that’s it, you know my brother doesn’t my dad doesn’t and and the thing is you’ve got to be honest, you have to be truly transparent really open really transparent with with the whole process.


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Phil Sharrock: And then, at the end of the day, if you lie you’ll get caught that’s life isn’t it if you lie you do get caught so.


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Julie Pabion: that we all have our little.


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floor to notes.


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Phil Sharrock: don’t get me wrong it’s something i’m ashamed of it’s just.


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Julie Pabion: What.


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Phil Sharrock: You know it’s just life, and we all have a rich tapestry of life that we put together and and things and and you know it’s a very invasive process, and there were a lot of tears, and there was a lot of.


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Phil Sharrock: You had to work through thing I had to work through some things that were very painful for me.


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Phil Sharrock: very thankful.


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Phil Sharrock: And, but you have to be honest about it, you have to get them out there, so that when you know that we are the people who are checking on you’re making sure that they are putting the state children in your hands.


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Julie Pabion: They in there.


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Phil Sharrock: So they have to know that you or I you know they have to know.


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Phil Sharrock: yeah that you know, on the you know you know, a drug addict who’s putting 15 bottles of whiskey damn you throw every night, and you know I find you know less than right and beating or kids Left and Right, you know what I mean they.


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Phil Sharrock: tell you, you know no don’t get me wrong, you know you know people have got you know mental health issues and things like that, and it doesn’t stop you becoming a foster care as long as you managing things and you’re doing or I.


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Phil Sharrock: mean in that position question can be a very you know it’s, not to say that you can’t you can.


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Phil Sharrock: But it’s about being honest and transparent about it and and working through that process and it does take a long time it takes too long, but it does take a long time so it’s very invasive very intrusive you have to be ready for that.


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Phil Sharrock: To talk about everything in your life um, but if you if you willing to do that, then, if you have nothing to hide, then you know you there is no reason why you can’t come through that process.


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Phil Sharrock: become foster care.


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Julie Pabion: hmm yes, and I think that’s a recurring theme on how you need to be take care of yourself first before you’re able to help someone else.


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Julie Pabion: And again with past trauma or you know you never know what could be a trigger and then they could get very messy so I guess it’s also good that they do these kind of projects for sure, because as.


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Julie Pabion: Most of the kids i’ve been through a lot before they they get and I just say assigned somewhere so or a place somewhere so it’s a bit like they don’t they don’t need to go through more if.


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Julie Pabion: go over.


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Phil Sharrock: When a child comes into care.


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Phil Sharrock: And you hope that the placement team isn’t that horrible word of placement this isn’t.


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Phil Sharrock: The home.


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Phil Sharrock: it’s a home, I might have been called the placement.


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Phil Sharrock: it’s wrong.


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Julie Pabion: it’s not.


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Phil Sharrock: home and the language around we could talk about that the language around wrong, you know, there are looked after child there are lactose.


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Phil Sharrock: they’re not lacking they’re not like they’re not looking you know they’re not a child looked after either you know that the Foster kids it’s not right anyway, I digress.


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Julie Pabion: No, no that’s very interesting.


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Phil Sharrock: Actually.


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Phil Sharrock: Get the placements, you know and we’ll stick with the terminology that they currently got the you know what you hope is that, when a placement comes along they put a lot of emphasis on the correct match.


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Phil Sharrock: and making sure that the the hat the home that they are going to go to is going to be suitable for them, because the last thing that anybody wants is for a child to go to a placement and it failed.


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Julie Pabion: And it goes on.


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Phil Sharrock: Because then that’s a bad experience another bad experience for the child and it’s a bad experience for the carriers as well, so Nobody wants that and.


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Phil Sharrock: I think that there are instances, and this is perhaps a little bit controversial where the pressure that he’s put on local authorities to find a placement means that that means that each just get them into a placement and that care that duty of care isn’t.


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Phil Sharrock: You know, they would obviously say no that’s absolute rubbish we’ve got that first but I they get that pressure i’m sorry they get the pressure to local authorities to get kids are placed and sometimes they do not, they don’t place them right and it goes.


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Phil Sharrock: Because they need to tick that box that says yeah we’ve got all our children placed.


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Julie Pabion: And yeah.


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Phil Sharrock: You know, and they got to be careful with that, and you know from a you know, and when a local authority have no spaces and having the rooms and they turn to independent fostering agencies.


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Phil Sharrock: Do I was worried about that placement being the right match as much as they should do, because they know that’s how they run their business and make money.


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Phil Sharrock: there’s this there’s this.


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Phil Sharrock: dichotomy really of getting the kids into the right home, but obviously they’ve got them running the business they’ve got to make money you know, and the money comes through the placements.


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Phil Sharrock: So it’s it’s a real double edged sword it’s a very dangerous and and tricky game I get very annoyed when I see you know big private equity firms, you know, making billions billions of pounds to vulnerable children every year.


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Phil Sharrock: and, frankly, frankly, I think it’s immoral I think it’s.


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Phil Sharrock: Of course, like it’s immoral these kids these kids have been through all this and yet what they’re seen as is.


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Phil Sharrock: Is is something to profit from in and it’s it’s wrong, however that’s a bigger argument that’s the system and that and that’s what you know, hopefully.


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Phil Sharrock: mcallister a nice review can alter and do something about but yeah the placements have got to be right and the match has got to be right and if people do their job right and focus on that.


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Phil Sharrock: and local authorities, give the right information so that the placements can be gone right and give enough information because you do find that, in my experience, they hold information back because they want that child place.


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Phil Sharrock: yeah.


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Phil Sharrock: You know and it’s wrong, and then they could the local authority could say yeah we’ve got it we’ve got a child place and there’s absolute chaos going on that kid’s life because the match with the Foster carers hasn’t been right.


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Phil Sharrock: hmm you know, the thing to remember as a foster care is always that you can turn around and say no.


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Phil Sharrock: When the question when when you’re offered a child children siblings whatever.


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Phil Sharrock: is offered you can say no, there is no obligation on you to say you’ve got to have these kids it’s it’s it is.


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Phil Sharrock: You know, you do have the choice to walk away and say no, thank you, no not this one this one’s not going to work for us and call, and I very much take that attitude that we say.


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Phil Sharrock: Okay, if a child is going to come into our home it’s got to work for me it’s got to work for my wife it’s got to work for the eight year old little boy it’s got to work for the girl it’s gonna work for my 18 year old son and a 16 year old daughter and it’s got to work for my dog.


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Phil Sharrock: Because and we’ve learned that it’s because lots of these children who have got traumas and.


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Phil Sharrock: they’ve been through lots of neglect and abuse take it out on animals, and my dog has suffered because of it in the past.


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Phil Sharrock: So you learn these little tricks, as you go along and it’s and and you sort of things are.


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Phil Sharrock: You know, a 17 year old boy if we were if we were offered there’s a 17 year old boy who’s just come into care, but he’s.


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Phil Sharrock: he’s very sexually active and very sexually aggressive would I want him in this House with my 16 year old daughter, and my 15 year old off the daughter it’s like not a chance, not even coming in here so.


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Julie Pabion: yeah.


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Phil Sharrock: You know that there are there are rules, you know and and there are sort of common sense and you would hope that.


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Phil Sharrock: Our social worker would look at it before you look at it involved no that’s not a good placement fulfilling call.


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Phil Sharrock: You know, and then it goes through that filtering process before it reaches me and cold and then we go well we’ve got this question we’ve got that question because we’ve got you know.


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Phil Sharrock: One of our children is very much of an ambivalent disorganized attachment type type is very much an avoidant she’s you know she’s an avoidant.


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Phil Sharrock: attachment type so.


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Phil Sharrock: Whoever comes in, how are they going to fit into the dynamic of the House, because obviously we’ve got a you know what we got a happy household and that’s running very well at the moment and we don’t want somebody coming in and turning everything upside down.


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Julie Pabion: Of course, but so this is more about the selection process and then comes preparing to welcome someone into your home, how do you do that, how do you prepare.


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Phil Sharrock: Well, when we know they’re coming usually if we get the opportunity will go and see them a few a couple of times before they actually arrive.


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Phil Sharrock: And then they get chance to say hi so it’s not just turning up on a complete strangers doorstep and for us that’s been we’ve been able to do that, so you know, we found that that’s useful because within you know within a friendly face who they know.


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Phil Sharrock: If there was an emergency placement said, what can you take them tonight and just look after them, then you open as they arrive you open the door with a big beaming smile and say hi welcome it’s lovely to have you on saying is.


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Phil Sharrock: lovely to have you come come and live with us well area, you know and just be and just make them feel really welcome and part of the family from the word go, and help them settle in and make them feel welcome and.


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Phil Sharrock: And and make sure that they’ve got everything that they need, so that they can they can settle into your family home as soon as they possibly can.


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Julie Pabion: yeah for sure yeah I guess also providing that so stability.


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Julie Pabion: You know, loving and caring.


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Julie Pabion: Environment yeah.


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Phil Sharrock: I mean, one of the things my wife insist on when children arrive is that she she takes them up to their room and helps them and.


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Phil Sharrock: makes them feel part of the family and then usually we try and time it before we’re having something to eat, so that we can all have a chance to sit down and have.


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Phil Sharrock: A conversation if they want to join us, because we have a we have a very strict not very strict but we have a very strong routine in our House routines are incredibly important for these kids because they’ve never had.


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Phil Sharrock: roofing they’ve never had structure they’ve never had routine, so we have routine in this House.


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Phil Sharrock: into down down into sort of what time you get up what time you’re eating breakfast what time you’re eating tea.


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Phil Sharrock: What time you know you’re having a bath what time and everything is structured and we do that because it keeps the kids safe they know where they are.


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Phil Sharrock: What they know where they fit in, and when you get kids coming to you, who are used to absolute chaos.


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Phil Sharrock: And the 14 year old had had no structure stability in your life, since about eight nine years old and was based not know what you call federal but had absolutely no idea about how to look after yourself so.


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Phil Sharrock: we’ve had to work very, very hard about you know simple things like if you if you close a dirty you don’t stop them under the bottom of your wardrobe you.


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Phil Sharrock: Close the dirty they go in the washing basket and that’s Okay, you know and we’ve had to.


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Phil Sharrock: physically show her how to do it, you know, on a number of occasions, until it starts to stick and then you pick them up and you make them feel you start to give them some self respect you start to give them some self worth and self value because they don’t have any.


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Phil Sharrock: Money I always I always say, not one child comes into this House one wants the video.


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Phil Sharrock: And they don’t nobody who comes into our House wants to be here, we want to be with them up, they want to be with their dad they want to be at home.


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Phil Sharrock: They don’t want to be with us so we’ve got to make it work for them to show them that this is a nice place to be.


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Phil Sharrock: And then, as you chip away as you as you’re that boring with consistent once you once they know that they’re safe they feel valued.


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Phil Sharrock: That they’re important to you, they feel secure they got everything that they could possibly need slowly but surely you break it down and they become.


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Phil Sharrock: more stable and they become loved and they feel loved and they find it very hard to deal with, and they rebelled.


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Phil Sharrock: against it because it’s not they don’t think he tried they use the chaos, they used to anger, you still aggression they’re not used to people getting on.


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Phil Sharrock: You know, because they’ve all they’ve all brought these ACS with them and traumas with them, so you, you have to work through that and keep a very calm.


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Phil Sharrock: calm and structured environment, and so, if you do that consistently over time, using a very therapeutic trying to use a very therapeutic approach and understanding, where they’re coming from.


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Phil Sharrock: And it’s hard work.


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Phil Sharrock: But what you end up with a calm regulated kids down the road.


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Phil Sharrock: On the line and it takes me and you ain’t gonna solve you know, for example, with our eight year old you’re not going to solve six years of abuse in six months you’re not it takes years.


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Phil Sharrock: So you have to have resilience, you have to have determination to see it through with these children, particularly if they’re going to stay with you long term.


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Phil Sharrock: Because you are the effectively accepting responsibility for their upbringing up until the time they’re 18 and start making those critical life decisions.


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Julie Pabion: Right and I feel like maybe now you’re better equipped to face all of that, because you’ve you have had experience but.


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Julie Pabion: Do you think you know at the beginning it was harder than now to understand the pattern of you know.


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Phil Sharrock: yeah.


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Phil Sharrock: I was looking at my wife and I were lucky we had a background in education i’m before she’s a former teacher i’m a former head teacher.


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Phil Sharrock: So we i’ve i’ve dealt with many child protection issues over the course of my career as has my wife she’s dealt with some very difficult children in her classroom environment as well, so we have a.


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Phil Sharrock: certain amount of professional knowledge about trauma and about attachment not that that plays a blind bit of notice in the education system, because he doesn’t it’s all about the behavior isms and reward and punishment.


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Phil Sharrock: Is education schools that’s all that they’re particularly bothered about I think that there is the beginning of a movement at grassroots level, certainly not from government about understanding trauma and attachment, a lot more.


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Phil Sharrock: And because we I run my schools in a very from a very nurturing perspective i’ve got a good understanding my wife, has a good understanding so.


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Phil Sharrock: Now we’ve been doing this for about three years, we could get by at the beginning, and now we understand it a lot better having gone through a lot of training.


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Phil Sharrock: which was, which was bespoke for us and we begged and scrounge to go on some therapeutic parenting.


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Phil Sharrock: courses which have lasted you know which has taken 1819 weeks there are a fair commitment but there they were certainly worth it, to help you in the understanding and what and how to.


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Phil Sharrock: respond to children who were having difficulties so yeah I understand it, a lot better which enables me to respond, a lot better now.


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Julie Pabion: yeah that makes sense that makes sense because they’re all so different and yeah I mean it’s it’s.


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Julie Pabion: it’s very admirable what you you do I think it’s very interesting and you must learn along a lot from them as well.


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Phil Sharrock: Oh absolutely I mean it makes me look back.


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Phil Sharrock: and think.


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Phil Sharrock: You know how little I actually knew, when I was a teacher.


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Phil Sharrock: And when I was thinking about what these children go through.


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Phil Sharrock: You know that some of the some of the things that we, we had a we did a little respite for a four or five and six year old for just a couple of weeks and.


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Phil Sharrock: You know, when we were talking to the carriers’ the four year old when they came into care and he got 92 bites and bruises and burns on when.


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Phil Sharrock: When he when he arrived with them that night, and you know the carer the mom couldn’t couldn’t bought him because he was in such a terrible state and these these kids go through so much not just physically but emotionally.


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Phil Sharrock: and socially and they find they find all these aspects of life so very, very difficult because they just they’ve been neglected, you know.


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Phil Sharrock: No, no social worker ever wants to take a child away from their parents and but the chronic and it is chronic chronic neglect that they go through is it’s heartbreaking but.


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Phil Sharrock: You have to accept that’s happened that’s where they are what what has happened helps you to understand where they are, and so, consequently, then, how are we can respond to them.


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Phil Sharrock: we’ve had a we’ve had a child who.


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Phil Sharrock: Who couldn’t have a red lamp in her room.


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Phil Sharrock: Now we we were lucky because she could say that she could verbalize that and said, my my bedroom is not got a red red lantern it has it because that was a trigger from you know some from sexual abuse in the past, so you know if she saw a red one she freak.


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Julie Pabion: yeah.


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Phil Sharrock: You know it’s you know, but we were lucky because she she verbalized it, we all know, so it was easy to handle the ones that the tricky are the ones that they obviously can’t verbalize and they just they go into their into their Shell because they’re they’re frightened of this.


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Julie Pabion: scared yeah and sometimes even clips here is to identify your son trigger so it’s amazing that she already knew her trigger.


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Phil Sharrock: Well, with respect Julie, there are things that happened to me, you know, a long time ago, I still still process those things now.


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Julie Pabion: You know, and you know.


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Phil Sharrock: And I had a I was very lucky because I had a very secure upbringing.


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Julie Pabion: You know I remember.


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Phil Sharrock: I had a very loving home, where I was brought up and and it was very secure and and it was it was a terrific childhood and, and so I.


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Phil Sharrock: i’m lucky, because I was that my wife didn’t have a good upbringing, she had a very dysfunctional upbringing.


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Phil Sharrock: And so, she can empathize with these kids in a lot of ways, and that helps helps it helps her to understand where these kids have come from so.


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Phil Sharrock: i’m not saying I can’t but mine’s more through the professional room where she can empathize on a lot more of a personal level with them than I can, because my upbringing was lovely.


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Julie Pabion: And that’s why you also make a good team.


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Phil Sharrock: yeah and that’s it yeah there are things that call handles very, very well, and there are things that she handles better than I do, and there are things, as you said, I am little better than cheap, so you know we work we work together on that, and you know it started off primarily with.


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Phil Sharrock: My wife wanting to do this, and I was still a teacher at the time, and it really grabbed my.


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Phil Sharrock: love that I really enjoyed the fact of coming home and the kids are there and working with with them and working through things with them and so.


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Phil Sharrock: We were fortunate that we were at a point in life, where bills were paid and we were pretty secure financially, so we said right i’m not i’ve lost faith with the education system, I want our, and so we both became full time foster carers, at that point.


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Julie Pabion: hmm No, this is great, and so you mentioned earlier, the review of Mr mcalester, would you be able to tell us a bit about it, and what you understood from it and play, for example, is giving hope.


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Phil Sharrock: Well he’s got this opportunity hasn’t he needs to look at the whole social care review system, you know, there are caveats in each contract that says no there’s no more money.


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Phil Sharrock: And you know you know everybody’s gonna scream from the rooftops that there needs to be more money in the system, and you know cuts for 10 years of hurt there’s no doubt about that, and I feel for social workers, they are ridiculously over words, particularly.


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Julie Pabion: She said.


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Phil Sharrock: it’s ridiculous however i’m going to say this as a as a head teacher who used to turn around failing schools right.


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Phil Sharrock: It doesn’t take more money to turn around failing schools, it takes a change in the system.


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Phil Sharrock: You turn around.


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Phil Sharrock: turn around failing schools, I was there was a great believer in the work of a guy called w edwards Deming it was a statistician who basically.


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Phil Sharrock: Japan turn to after the Second World War to rebuild that country, and you know how efficient Japanese manufacturing and industry in their society is it’s incredibly efficient.


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Phil Sharrock: If they get a pothole in the road or a bridge falls down it’s fixed within minutes, and then they carry on, or is it takes nine months, he had seven health and safety meeting with 26 people block the road saw a diversion tactic three months to fix it and and and.


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Phil Sharrock: And and dennings work was all based around systems and he said that four out of five times when things go wrong it’s the system that’s at fault.


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Phil Sharrock: it’s not the person, the person is trying, but sometimes it’s the person because we’re human, but the problem with Western.


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Phil Sharrock: Attitudes is that we always look to blame, we look to blame people we don’t look at why it’s gone wrong and and his analysis was very much about systemic problems, and there are.


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Phil Sharrock: Numerous systemic problems for Mr mcallister to get his head around, I think that if he can, if he can do it right and change the systems.


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Phil Sharrock: Then there is a real opportunity here to release an enormous amount of social great social workers into the Community rather than them spending the majority of their time filling in forms.


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Phil Sharrock: There is an opportunity to empower foster foster carers and social workers and the teams around these children to give much better quality of care and support is, it is a very simple example and we’re in Wolverhampton but with an independent fostering agency.


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Phil Sharrock: If we had an empty room yeah will Hampton would move out and had a child that needs to place him will have a handsome would not use us, they will automatically go to the there Wolverhampton carriers.


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Phil Sharrock: If there was a we could be around the corner from that child’s school in a better place in a better environment with a better setup but they would move that child into a Wolverhampton the local authority foster carers home, which could be seven miles away, on the other side of town.


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Phil Sharrock: For the simple fact that they were with the local authority and we’re with an IFA you understand.


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Phil Sharrock: The each should be a level playing field but it’s not right and they don’t do it and they never have that’s a really, really simple.


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Phil Sharrock: example of how silly the system can be because they would argue, or that the IFA would cost more money okay so it’s all about cost now, the issue is there should be a level playing field, this is not about costs, this is about children.


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Phil Sharrock: So we have they have to look at the system and change the system it’s like if, for example, for if, as a foster carer i’m with a particular independent fostering agency.


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Phil Sharrock: If I want to move to let’s say I move House and you know I want to then joined the local authority in a different structure, for example.


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Phil Sharrock: And I can’t I can’t just become a foster care for structure, all that work that has been done for the I for that section F and everything like that has to be done again.


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Phil Sharrock: If i’m really yeah yeah.


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Phil Sharrock: it’s um so forget forget it for months and i’m off the radar as possible it’s absolutely bonkers there should be a national register a foster carers.


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Phil Sharrock: And it’s also once you’ve been through this process it’s it’s easy to transfer it’s like if you’re a teacher in one school you can’t move to another school until you break trying to be a teacher.


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Julie Pabion: yeah.


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Julie Pabion: That makes it very complicated and not be.


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Julie Pabion: One of the reasons why many families don’t do it because they want to move somewhere yeah yeah.


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Phil Sharrock: So, so the whole system is set up as a foster care.


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Phil Sharrock: I have no one to rise, you must remember that you don’t get a wage you get an allowance I don’t have any employment rights, I don’t have any sick pay.


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Phil Sharrock: You know I mean talk.


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Phil Sharrock: To i’m aligned two weeks of rest by every year I work, seven days a week, from the moment I wake up, usually till the moment I go to bed you didn’t glamorous.


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Phil Sharrock: I thought I worked hard as a head teacher.


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Phil Sharrock: But, but I have no employment rights it’s not a job you know you are self employed for tax purposes, and there is a there isn’t.


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Phil Sharrock: A very generous tax allowance, you know for looking after the state’s children and you would hope that the state would.


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Phil Sharrock: You know, would look after is that way and there isn’t a generous tax allowance, you know for for the children that you look after.


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Phil Sharrock: So basically what you’re given as allowance you get to keep really you pay very, very little tax on what we were notions that implies that it’s a job you know i’m from your allowance, so that it’s it very much rooms in swings and roundabouts.


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Phil Sharrock: You know right, and there are very good aspects, there are some good at that so very good aspects to the care system, but there are also aspects of the care system that absolutely need a radical overhaul.


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Phil Sharrock: And I would like to see social workers not filling in forms but actually supporting the kids that they’re trying to support you know too many.


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Julie Pabion: yeah.


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Phil Sharrock: we’ve got a crisis in this area, with more and more kids coming in less more and more foster carers quitting and leaving.


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Phil Sharrock: Because you know i’m very lucky at the moment, we will i’ve not been subject to an allegation.


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Phil Sharrock: But if, but if a 15 year old girl came went into school today and said and made an allegation about me and that will be it the children will be taken out of the House, I have no recourse until an investigation taking place, I have no rights, I have no protections.


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Phil Sharrock: hmm you know, so you know you got to take these things on board, this is the real world it’s not all glamour and lovely and wonderful Yes, you are making a fundamental difference to children’s life.


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Phil Sharrock: But there is a real practicality, that you have to you know don’t just do this with your heart do it with your head as well.


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Phil Sharrock: Be proud yeah think think it through you know and and make sure that you, you know that you practice, you know things in the right way.


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Phil Sharrock: You know, but if you if you set up structures and routines within your House, then.


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Phil Sharrock: there’s no issues there’s not a problem, but Mr mcallister has an opportunity they will scream for more money, but they’re not going to get it, so that they, so the big worry is they need to change their systems.


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Phil Sharrock: And I, I fear, because i’ve worked with local authorities for 30 years local authorities do not change systems, they do not like to change systems.


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Julie Pabion: They want.


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Phil Sharrock: So very, very difficult, so I look forward to Mr mcallister you know, recommendations and and and when they come through I hope I truly hope that they make it statute they take it to Parliament and they say it is law, you have to do it.


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Julie Pabion: Because if they.


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Phil Sharrock: don’t if they don’t if they just leave it as recommendations.


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Phil Sharrock: Then nobody’s gonna change, and there have been a number of recommendations and reviews in the past where they’ve been left as recommendations and nobody’s done anything.


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Julie Pabion: You know, nobody has.


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Phil Sharrock: Anything and it will stay that way, and then it’ll be well you’re not going to solve anything, and we have to solve this problem this crisis for our most vulnerable.


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Phil Sharrock: Children who have been through the most difficult things imaginable, and you know if we can’t help them who can wheel.


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Julie Pabion: yeah you know it reminds me that at uni I studied there was this course called change management and I truly think that this should be applied in more different settings, including the government and so on, because it’s actually very simple but it’s.


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Julie Pabion: Like everything is.


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Julie Pabion: Just common knowledge, and you have to identify who is going to be a block like someone who’s going to completely.


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Julie Pabion: go against it and put all their energy to try to delay or whatever, and who is going to be able to drive the change and follow, so no, this is very important, and I think they should have this type of trainings in in these organizations as well yeah.


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Phil Sharrock: I mean when you’re flipping a school it’s all it’s all about trust it’s all about trust and empowerment and and I, as a as a head teacher, I my my philosophy was very much that the teachers are the most important people.


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Phil Sharrock: In the school, I was always second to that my job was to help them do their job I didn’t tell them how to teach their the teachers.


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Phil Sharrock: My job to.


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Phil Sharrock: Help them teach the best that they could, and it was to trust them that they were going to do the best for their children.


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Phil Sharrock: and all I can say is all I can say is that the you know school celebrate when it goes from inadequate to good in three years I did it in 15 months.


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Phil Sharrock: Because, because I trust the people and I gave them the tools to be able to do it without without fear of failure.


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Phil Sharrock: And if and if something went wrong right we talked about it, seldom not celebrated it, but we certainly learned from what went wrong, and then we did it again.


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Phil Sharrock: And again, and then we did it again and then suddenly you find that they get it right and teachers aren’t scared teachers are frightened to get off.


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Phil Sharrock: timetable it’s the same with the foster care system, we need to empower social workers, instead of them being said damn terrified.


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Phil Sharrock: About no you can’t do that for child protection have said it safe guarding reasons it’s like no, you have to stop this, you have to stop being so scared because in education that theory is paramount fear runs through everything.


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Phil Sharrock: And it’s the same social social caste system we have to get this fear of have a problem, and trust the social workers and the people on the front line and trust foster care is frankly I spent I i’ve been in so many meetings where, as a foster care, I have been ignored.


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Phil Sharrock: And I know that child better than anybody I live with them 24 seven I know them better than anybody, and I have been ignored for about 45 minutes, and then, and then I turn around and say i’m a former head teacher and the whole attitude in the office in those meetings completely changes.


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Julie Pabion: Which is very.


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Phil Sharrock: Foster carers.


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Julie Pabion: are supposed to.


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Phil Sharrock: That they are mountains, that as being or you are are equal, our professional your professional and your Oracle, but you are not you are not treated That way, you are seen as somebody to just should not pay attention and that will let us do our job.


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Julie Pabion: hmm so I mentioned that you have meetings regularly with, for example, the local authority and the kids must have some as well, so how how often does it happen.


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Phil Sharrock: Well, we have our own iPhone look, you know POPs in almost every fortnight, to have a chat and just make sure that we’re Okay, but they’re always on the end of the phone.


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Phil Sharrock: The local authority come out every sort of six weeks got you know coven aside they come out and see the kids every six weeks.


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Phil Sharrock: We have regular meetings, obviously, for you know if there’s reviews and those the independent review in offices, who come along every six months there’s the there’s the PEPs there’s the other meetings that we have to attend.


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Phil Sharrock: In terms of school in terms of all the medical sort of stuff has to be done.


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Phil Sharrock: Via local authorities and and everything else so there’s usually something dripping in once, twice every.


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Phil Sharrock: You know, we try and organize it, so we have a blitz week where we get loads and loads done in one week and then it tends to be a bit quieter for the next few weeks after that so it’s just.


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Phil Sharrock: When the kids are in school that’s when we get our down time to do all the household chores and run around and catch up with each.


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Phil Sharrock: Other you know cuz by three o’clock you’re picking them up taking them to this code checking into that club doing this doing that get to get them fed getting you know, putting them in bed and it’s all for one in the evening isn’t it it’s raising kids.


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Julie Pabion: yeah it’s a big family.


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yeah.


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Julie Pabion: hmm that’s very interesting and so is there any advice or last advice, they would love to share.


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Phil Sharrock: I think probably reiterate what I said before, in that this is an incredibly rewarding thing and it makes a world of difference to these children, and it will change your life as well and it’s certainly and it really is worth doing.


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Phil Sharrock: You know the financial rewards are there, you know.


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Phil Sharrock: But costly out to an hourly rate because you’re you’re you’re reading about 60 an hour, if you work it out like that.


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Phil Sharrock: What you know go into it with your eyes open that these these kids can turn around and and you know i’ve had instances where i’ve had.


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Phil Sharrock: i’ve had furniture thrown at me i’ve had some very difficult situations to deal with.


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Phil Sharrock: So go into it with your eyes open but i’ve also had that little i’ve also had that boy crying in my arms saying i’m so sorry I can’t help it and you know you know what they can’t help it because it’s not them it’s their traumas it’s things that have happened to them so.


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Julie Pabion: they’re trying to learn yeah.


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Phil Sharrock: yeah I said when we first sort of met it’s very much a double edged sword there’s an incredibly positive side to these things where you change you literally do change the life.


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Phil Sharrock: of a child and josh shipp a famous quite a famous sort of tedx speaker, he was a foster child and he said every child is just one caring away from success.


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Phil Sharrock: And that’s it they’re just one caring at all and we aim to be that caring model, and if you do it, and if you’re prepared to be resilient if you’re prepared to have that grit and determination and not give up on them.


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Phil Sharrock: Because they’ve been through so much their Defense mechanism is to get rid of everybody that’s how they survive if you can see that, through if you can get through that.


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Phil Sharrock: Then, then you are going to change their lives, and you will change, you will you will smash the generational things because these tend to be generational.


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Julie Pabion: yeah.


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Julie Pabion: You will short.


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Phil Sharrock: The generational cycle of abuse and then from years on, as they grow up and they need people and they have their kids the cycle is broken and then those kids will go on and so as time goes on, you will have affected dozens of people and hundreds, as the as the centuries pass by.


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Julie Pabion: Because the ripple effect is just.


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Phil Sharrock: Because you stepped in and you save that chart and so you know those are the rewards those are the reasons that you do it, and when you see a child.


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Phil Sharrock: who’s having an incredibly hard and, over time, they get better and better and better.


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Phil Sharrock: And you know they do things right, and they and they become loving, caring kids they still got it in them, because you don’t you know it never leaves them.


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Phil Sharrock: But they then live happy and structured and ordered life and and loved life, you know, the then then then that’s what it’s.


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Phil Sharrock: that’s why you do it it’s it’s hard but, like all the best things in life, you know I really people turn around and say raising kids is the hardest thing you ever you’re doing your life but it’s, the best thing.


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Julie Pabion: yeah.


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Phil Sharrock: You know.


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Phil Sharrock: yeah, these are the hardest the hardest kids.


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Julie Pabion: So when you get it wrong.


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Phil Sharrock: it’s the it is you know the you know the hardest of the hardest kids becomes the best of the best reason for doing it.


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Phil Sharrock: But go into it with your eyes open do your research check on you know.


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Phil Sharrock: On the support that you’re going to get check on the training that you’re going to get make sure that know that the system that you’re entering isn’t a good.


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Phil Sharrock: and hope that it improves in the future, but educate yourself about what you’re getting involved in, because if you don’t educate yourself about.


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Phil Sharrock: about this process then your what your fault lines are you walking in blind to something that’s going to be doing 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so learn read get your head around what’s going on as well, so it’s very hard, but it’s also very head as well.


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Julie Pabion: hmm it’s very powerful Thank you so so much for for sharing phil and thank you for giving me also a better idea of what it takes what it’s really like the process and so on it’s super interesting and yeah.


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Phil Sharrock: Absolutely my pleasure, I hope I hope you’ve learned something from my from my.


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Julie Pabion: Of course.


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Phil Sharrock: Simple experience but.


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Julie Pabion: No, I mean it’s it’s incredible and thank you for doing what you do.


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know.


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Phil Sharrock: It is a joy it’s our work it’s a joy it really is.


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Okay.


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Julie Pabion: Thank you.

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