Foster Care Fortnight takes place from 10 to 23 May and the national campaign aims to raise awareness of fostering and show how foster care transforms lives.
This year it is more important than ever to raise awareness of fostering. In the UK, every 20 minutes a child comes into care in need of a foster family, and the pandemic and lockdowns have increased pressure on vulnerable families, with job losses, deepening poverty and worsening mental health all leading to family breakdown.
In South Gloucestershire alone there are over 220 children and young people in care at any one time. Fostering offers children and young people a home when they are unable to live with their birth family.
South Gloucestershire Council desperately needs more foster carers for brothers and sisters, teenagers, young parents and their babies and children with complex needs. Sometimes children only stay with a foster family for a few days, while others will live with their foster family for their entire childhood and beyond. Many of these children have experienced a troubled start to life and fostering is often their first positive experience of family life altogether.
Foster carers are needed from all walks of life to look after children of differing ages who have come into local authority care through no fault of their own. Whatever your background, culture, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, or relationship status, if you can recognise and empathise with that desperate need for security and nurturing – you could be the right person to be a great foster carer.
Being a foster carer is not easy and it takes a special kind of person to do it. However, if you are at all interested, or simply want to find out more, visit fostersouthglos.gov.uk or call 01454 866423 to speak to a member of the team.
Elinor and Ryan, who have been Stayover Carers in South Gloucestershire for one and half years, said: “We applied to become foster carers a couple of years ago to give children opportunities which they might not otherwise have. It has its challenges, but everything worth doing does. We have learnt a lot, had great fun and we are glad we started our fostering journey.”
Rachel has been fostering children for South Gloucestershire Council for 12 years. She said: “It’s a selfless act to choose to share your home and life and family to help a child in need. Sometimes it’s hard sometimes it’s frustrating but it’s also very rewarding.”
Jennifer has been a Share the Care carer for South Gloucestershire Council for 19 years. She said: “As a special needs mum, I wanted to help other families and find work that fitted in with our family. Over the years I have learnt to work as part of a team, and to trust in yourself as you can do it.”
Cllr Sam Bromiley, Cabinet Member for Children & Young People, said: “On behalf of the Council, I send our sincere thanks to our foster carers in South Gloucestershire. Throughout the pandemic they have supported children and young people’s education, health, and social wellbeing, and they have also helped to maintain the children’s relationships with the people who are important to them, either through face-to-face contact or virtually when it has not been safe to meet with others. Despite the practical and emotional challenges that the pandemic has brought, foster carers have continued to provide day-to-day support, love and stability to children and young people who cannot live with their birth families.
“We are continually looking for people who can join us as foster carers to help keep children in their own communities, and to provide a safe and stable environment for our children and young people. Being a foster carer is a role like no other, so if you are looking for a new lifestyle or career in the aftermath of the pandemic and you believe you have the right skills, I urge you to consider becoming a foster carer and to contact the Council’s fostering team to find out more.”