Our Story

We have been working together since 2018, as a parent and Specialist Support Worker. In this, we have directly experienced the positive impacts of in-home support, and are now passionate to share this with others.


Like many adoptive families, joy fills our lives, but so does frustration, funding applications, therapy sessions, education fall-out, work, and the all-consuming task of regulating little people who need so much support. Despite a great professional team around us, we were very isolated at home. It was tough to meet the complex needs of our very different children. In 2017 we decided to employ a support worker, but it was challenging to find the right person and even to work out what we needed. Since then, through experience, we have developed a way of analysing what families need at home. From this, we can work out what preparation and training to give a Specialist Support Worker, and what ongoing support both parties need. Having Jade and our other Specialist Support Workers has meant that I can be 1:1 with my children. I have someone who gives me precious time on my own, sees what is happening at home, and can discuss the next steps with myself and our therapists.


Having just completed my undergraduate placement at a secure psychiatric hospital, I was looking for a relevant role that would fit around my final year of university. Being a Specialist Support Worker has enabled me to continue my professional development in attachment and trauma-informed care, as well as providing valuable experience in working with vulnerable children and their families. Beyond this, working as a Specialist Support Worker has been extremely rewarding, having real potential to help others and contribute to their safety and wellbeing. I'm now studying at postgraduate level, and continue to appreciate the diversity and flexibility of my role. Moving forward, I want to share this experience with others, not only to support children in their recovery from significant trauma, but also to help students gain practical experience in working with looked-after and adopted children.

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The Belay Foundation

The Belay Foundation is a charity based in the South West of England. We are dedicated to matching adoptive families in need of support with students looking for sector-specific experience. At the heart of our work is a child's recovery from trauma, so we support those who have the most impact on this - the parents.

Why 'Belay'?

'Belay' is a climbing-specific term, where the climber is secured by a rope to the 'belayer' to increase safety and prevent injury. We thought this was the perfect metaphor for the work we are trying to do at The Belay Foundation, in supporting families and young people by increasing safety and holding their needs, without 'taking over' or telling them what they should or shouldn't be doing.

Key Deliverables

For parents:

  • Improved attachment between parent and child
  • 1:1 time with children
  • Respite - a space to relax and recharge
  • Reflection with Specialist Support Worker

  • For students:

  • A lived experience of developmental trauma to take into practice
  • Bespoke training and development of theory-practice links
  • Direct working with vulnerable children and their families
  • Integration into a multidisciplinary team
  • Appreciation of risk, safeguarding and professional boundaries

  • What does a Specialist Support Worker do?

    A typical day in the life of a Specialist Support Worker is diverse, as it is driven by the needs of the family they're supporting. Common tasks might include; support with basic self-care, facilitation of leisure or meaningful activity, practical tasks (i.e. preparing food, driving). If you're interested in this type of work, contact us for a full job description and person specification.

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    What does The Belay Foundation offer adopters?

    Professional Matching

    Finding and matching support workers to the needs of your family.

    Employment Support

    Interview and recruitment support, paperwork templates and systems guidance for employers.

    Individualised Working

    An approach tailored to your family's needs, including specialist support worker training.

    The Belay Community

    Ongoing support and connection to other adopters and professionals in the Belay Community.

    What does The Belay Foundation offer students?


    Including core and optional modules in preparation for the role, individualised based on the needs of the family.


    Regular contact in the first six months, and ongoing peer supervision with other specialist support workers.


    With the adopter community and the multidisciplinary teams around them.


    Diverse and meaningful work with vulnerable children and their families, in a flexible role that fits around your studies.

    Contact us to find out moreWe'd love to hear from you!

    Smiling Two Girls