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Staffordshire foster carers Sandra & Brian Thompson, Siobhan Palmer-Burke, (Emma Howitt and Terry McDermott from Staffordshire’s Fostering Service), and foster carer Jackie Meredith

Meet Staffordshire’s foster families helping to ‘Change a future’

‘Change a future’ is the latest campaign from Staffordshire County Council’s Fostering Service to help find families for some of the county’s most vulnerable children.

The rallying call comes alongside Foster Care Fortnight, the national campaign to highlight the urgent need for more foster carers which starts on Monday 13 May. Staffordshire foster carers will officially launch their campaign live on Facebook from Market Square in Stafford on the day at 12.30pm.

A series of countywide roadshows and events will also help highlight the need for more local families while a new animated video will highlight the difference that foster families can make.

Every year, tens of thousands of children across the UK need someone to provide foster care and in Staffordshire alone, 60 more foster families need to be found this year.

Mark Sutton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Staffordshire County Council said:

“Changing a future is our theme for this year’s campaign and we hope that by showing people the difference that foster carers can make to a young person’s life, the more people will come forward.

“We all want to see children and young people get the best possible start in life and be able to realise their dreams, and that’s exactly what you could do as an approved foster carer for your local council. Continuity is so important for a child – including access to their extended family, friends and school so it’s vital we have a steady flow of local foster carers.

“All sorts of people can and do foster with us and you’re never on your own. There’s always advice on hand and lots of training available, so please get in touch if you think you can make a difference.”

Throughout the fortnight, Staffordshire’s foster carers will be calling in at the following towns between 10am-2pm:

  • Monday 13 May, Market Square, Stafford
  • Tuesday 14 May, Leek (outside co-op bank)
  • Wednesday 15 May, Market Square, Lichfield
  • Thursday 16 May, Coopers Square carpark, Burton
  • Friday 17 May, Dovefields, Uttoxeter
  • Monday 20 May, Outside St. Edithas Church, Tamworth
  • Tuesday 21 May, Cheadle (back of Barclays)
  • Wednesday 22 May, Stone High Street (outside B&M)
  • Thursday 23 May, Market Square, Cannock
  • Friday 24 May, Ironmarket, Newcastle

Newcastle foster carers Brian & Sandra Thompson have been fostering for 20 years. Sandra said:

“Fostering is a really amazing and rewarding thing to do and we’re very excited about Foster Care Fortnight.

“We want to share our fostering experiences with those who are maybe considering fostering and we will be at the road shows for people to come and talk to us.   We really do love being foster carers. It really is so rewarding although it’s not without its challenges. But we would never change things and the rewards always outweigh the challenges.”

Rugeley foster carer Siobhan Palmer-Burke is 27 years old and is one of the county council’s youngest foster carers. Siobhan said:

“I’ve only been fostering for a few months now, but I am really enjoying it and it’s an absolutely great thing to do.

“There’s a really friendly fostering community here in Staffordshire and you’re never on your own. Other foster carers are always willing to give advice and help each other out. Add to that the support from the council’s fostering team and you really couldn’t ask for a better fostering experience.

“I’d definitely recommend people go along to the information evenings, you get to meet other foster carers and hear exactly what’s involved. You’ll also get the chance to talk to staff about all the great training that is available too.”

Stafford based foster carer Jackie Meredith who previously fostered for an independent agency said:

“Fostering is a really wonderful thing to do and I’d encourage anyone who’s thinking about it to come and join us at one of the roadshows and events. It’s a great way of finding out exactly what’s involved.

“We transferred to Staffordshire County Council because we had heard about all the training and support available which really makes a huge difference.  Fostering isn’t always plain sailing though and there will be challenges along the way. But it is great to see children grow and learn new things. And, the positives always outweigh the negatives.”

Staffordshire Moorlands foster family Nicola and Matt Bradley along with their 7-year-old daughter Amelia specialise in fostering sibling groups and said:

“We’ve been fostering for 6 years now and have loved every minute of it. I think it’s important that siblings stay together and it’s fabulous to watch them grow up together.

“Fostering is something that will change your life and if you are thinking about it then I would encourage you to get in touch and take that first step.”

Burton foster family Kris and Laura Adcock said:

“We have been fostering for three years now and it has been the most exciting and rewarding adventure.  We have learnt so much about ourselves and been rewarded by seeing the young people in our care flourish.  There is lots of support from Staffordshire and other carers, you never feel like you are doing it on your own.”

Tanya Budd from Lichfield has been fostering for eight years and is supporting this year’s Foster Care Fortnight. Tanya said:

“Fostering is such a great thing to do and I find it really rewarding especially when you see vulnerable children grow up to be strong independent adults. It makes fostering the greatest job in the world. There’s also lots of support and training available from Staffordshire’s fostering service too, so there’s always help and advice when you need it.

“The most rewarding thing for me is how much the children change while they are with you and how much they appreciate what you’re doing for them. It’s wonderful to see all their achievements, no matter how small, like succeeding in school and in life in general.”

People can find out more about fostering with Staffordshire County Council at www.care4child.org/changeafuture  or by calling 0800 169 2061.