Campaign launched to recruit 25 new foster carers
This news article was published more than a year ago. Some of the information may no longer be accurate.
A South Gloucestershire mother who has fostered teenagers for the last ten years has welcomed Foster Care Fortnight 2014 by encouraging others to consider becoming carers.
With a shortage of foster carers nationally, South Gloucestershire Council is launching a campaign during Foster Care Fortnight (May 12 to 25) to recruit 25 new foster carers through press, bus and on-line advertising to help tackle this shortfall.
Lucy Pook (34, pictured) and her husband Barry (35) from Thornbury started fostering ten years ago.
"We had no children ourselves at the time but I had looked after nephews and nieces and I had a cousin who was a single mum who came to live with us,” said Lucy. “I was working as a care assistant in the mornings and looked after my cousin’s little boy in the afternoon. I missed him when he started school, but saw an advert for foster carers, applied and went on a course.
"Initially I wanted to look after younger children and our first was a nine year old girl, but we had a spare bedroom and were asked to take a teenager. Before long we had three teenagers and we have been fostering teenagers ever since. Some have stayed with us as long as 3 or 4 years, and we are still in touch with most of them.
"You need to be very supportive, have a good sense of humour, a good listener and not easily shocked. Sometimes you need to step back a bit, but it is always important to be a friend as well as a guide and carer.
"We now have a two year old daughter of our own, and I wondered if I should take a break, but we have kept fostering, even during pregnancy, and have two 17 year old boys with us at the moment and it works well.
"We have also converted our garage into a flat so that teenagers who reach the age when they move out of the care system have a home to live to start their adult lives. We have an 18 year old living there at the moment.
"For new carers there is lots of help and support from social workers and there are plenty of groups you can join. I am part of a buddy system where new carers have an experienced carer at the end of a phone when they need help or advice.”
Tracy Allison, Head of Integrated Children’s Services at South Gloucestershire Council, said: “Foster carers do an amazing job. It is thanks to them that we are able to provide stable and loving homes to some of the most vulnerable children in South Gloucestershire. But more people are urgently needed for the ever-increasing number of children who enter our care system. The number of children in South Gloucestershire who are in care has risen to 170, and the majority are with foster carers.
"When a child goes into care, they will have experienced upheaval and disruption during their short lives. Fostering for a local authority helps ensure children and young people stay near their previous homes, continuing existing links with their local communities and often remaining in their own school, providing stability at a time of considerable change."
As part of Foster Care Fortnight 2014 South Gloucestershire Council is organising an open evening on Tuesday 20 May where potential foster carers will have the opportunity to meet with foster carers and social workers and find out more about fostering. The event will take place between 6.30pm and 9pm at South Gloucestershire Council’s Badminton Road office in Yate. More information on fostering is also available at www.southglos.gov.uk/fostering or why not give us a call on 01454 866423.
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