It was coming increasing evident

 Foster Parents

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It was coming increasing evident that keeping children in institutions like the Cottage Homes was a very expensive business. Cost has always been the States major consideration when caring for children rather than what is best for them, and certainly foster care was the cheap option for caring for children although by no means the best. From my knowledge no child was physically or sexually abused at Fazakerley or at the African Churches Mission yet that could not be said for some who were fostered in private homes. So keen was the Liverpool Social Services on cutting costs that they resorted to advertising on television for foster parents, and some who responded were not equipped with the gifts necessary to handle children who had been institutionalized and who were reaching  their early teens. The emotional television image of young children, butter not melting in their mouths,  attracted well meaning yet incompetent personal to apply as foster parents. It attracted the less scrupulous also, as some applicants saw fostering as a means of earning a quick buck. To foster 5 or 6 children especially if they could share one bedroom could be a good financial arrangement. Unfortunately it happened to children that I knew of and it happened because the Cottage Homes had to be closed because of the expense,  and the children off loaded to any "Tom, Dick and Harry".  My advice to anyone thinking of fostering children, is to think long and hard, to have a sensible and honest estimation of your own gifts,  divorce yourself from the emotional hype created by advertisements, and seek earnestly God's guidance.

After seeing the television commercial Mrs. Anne Brown my first foster mother  applied to the Social Services to become a foster parent. It was a well meaning response from her yet certainly should never been encouraged by the so called experts. Remember that most of the children up for fostering were institutionalized for many years, they were reaching their teens a very difficult time in the life of any child. Yet Mrs. Brown was a widow, in full time employment, was a town councilor in her free time, yet she was expected to take charge of a boy who had not yet made any adjustment to normal family life. It was bound to fail and it did. The arrangement lasted 6 months when Mrs. Brown made a request to the Social Services that I be forested with another family. 

Mrs. Brown was a Salvationist,  and a member of the same Corps (local church) came forward and offered me a home. Mr. & Mrs. WC Bygroves took me into their home  which proved to be a very good move, and apart from a brief stay at another home, I stayed with my foster parents some two or three years after I had moved out of the care of the Social Services. We have always kept in close touch and even after the death of Mrs. Bygroves my foster father has been a great help to me, has treated me like his own son, and my children as his own grandchildren. I have been privileged to have lived under his care, and although at this moment of writing he is in his 88th year, he never forgets anyone's birthday in our household not even my grandchildren.

As Salvationist there were certain things one could say about my foster household which mark it out

  It was a teetotal.

It was forbidden and still is to drink alcohol as a Salvationist. I remember being barred by my Commanding Officer        ( Pastor) from all Salvation Army activity because I toasted two very good friends at their wedding reception,  using wine. I have never been able to see the biblical basis for teetotalism and I came to the conclusion along with other Christians that "Teetotalism is a slur on the character of our Lord" What my Salvation Army background has done for me is to give me an acute cautious approach to alcohol, and enabled me to note the word "little" in Saint Paul's directive " Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." ( 1 Tim 5:23 )

  It was non smoking

Although it was never forbidden for Salvationist to smoke it was frowned upon and you were barred from wearing the Salvation Army uniform and becoming an active member. William Booth the founder of the Salvation Army had a very prophetic ministry in this connection, and before the days when medicine has shown so clearly  that smoking is hazardous to health, Booth was outlining the horrors of smoking in 1865. He certainly had more insight than his great and more able  contemporary Rev; Charles Spurgeon. The great Baptist preacher smoked cigars and confessed on one occasion that he smoked cigars to the glory of God. Spurgeon said smoking "relieved his pain, soothed his brain, and helped him to sleep". Spurgeon's photograph even appeared on tobacco packets. ( See "Spurgeon Heir of the Puritans" by Ernest W. Bacon ). Bacon is so correct when he notes "No doubt had Spurgeon lived in our own day when medical science has established a connection between smoking and lung cancer, Spurgeon would have thought and acted differently" Yes indeed, and Spurgeon could have taken advice from General Booth.


IT Was Harmonious

We were all too busy in our household to argue. The head of the house was in fulltime employment, as was his daughter Ruth who trained as a nurse and who went on to qualify as a midwife. David the son was also working, and I had managed to gain an engineering apprenticeship. This entailed working for four days and attending college for the other day plus three nights per week. Mrs. Bygroves worked for us all, her work never seemed to finish. Her day ended reading the Bible or helps in understanding it and then praying. It was something that very much impressed me.

Nothing could stop me from watching on Saturdays the most successful English football club of all time, Liverpool FC. I saw their rise from the English Second Division to become four times Champions of Europe. During those years I would have paid Liverpool to allow me to play for the team. So when I wasn't working I was watching soccer.

Sundays were taken up at the Salvation Army creating harmony. The day started at 10am with an open-air meeting and as a member of the Brass Band I was expected to me there. At 11am we all gathered to worship and then had dinner with another open-air meeting at 2pm; after which there was another worship service. After tea we assembled yet again for another open-air meeting and then the final public service of the day. I was never convinced that it was the best way to spend the Sabbath, there was far too much activity and not enough worship. Indeed so many of the Bandsmen were musicians rather than Christians, and it was their love of Brass Bands that adhered them to the Salvation Army. What Brass Bands did for the proclamation of the Christian Gospel I have yet to understand. I myself owe it to my Salvation Army background for giving to me a love for music, but I had to turn to the Calvinists to show me "The unreachable riches of Jesus Christ"