“We have seen a steady increase this year on those thinking about fostering, our enquiry rates continue to rise, but there is so much more to do.” Stuart Williams, Service Manager.
Stuart Williams, Service Manager, Fostering, Adoption and Residential Care Services takes time out to reflect on the delivery of the Foster Care campaign and how it has highlighted an even greater need for more carers in the city – an action which has been captured in the council’s Pandemic Pledge ‘opening closed doors’.
“Foster Care Fortnight for me, marked a marvellous opportunity to celebrate the work of our foster carers across this great city, but in doing so, magnified the issue that we do not have enough carers to meet the growing demand we have. This parallel worries me, and whilst I am greatly ambitious for the services that I lead, with it comes a great responsibility to get it right. Across the city we have some truly inspirational people who foster for us, only today I was reading about a married couple who were retiring after over 40 years as foster carers and I thought about the number of children that have walked through their door, have sat in their lounge feeling worried, scared and alone. Knowing the impact foster carers have on our young people, fills me with the confidence to know that those young people will have left these carers experiencing support, guidance, and a whole heap of love.
During Foster Care Fortnight the team worked hard to increase the brand of Liverpool Fostering Services, championing all that we offer from support, to training – knowing that there is someone there to come and have a chat and a cup of tea with, when the sea feels rough, cannot be underestimated. As much as this is true, and more than worthy of celebrating my overarching hope was that this would attract more people to consider fostering, or tip those already thinking about it to contact us.
We know that people don’t just wake up one morning and think ‘yeah, I think I am going to foster now’ but that there is a process you go through, either as an individual, as a couple, as a family – there is so much to weigh up and so much to consider. I know that life has changed for so many, the last 18 months have offered a fresh perspective for us all. What really matters? Am I truly happy? What is important to me? To us? And for some this has caused them to realise that they are at a point in their life, either by choice, or through necessity, that now is the time to do something different.
I wanted to encourage those people to maybe think about fostering, to think that this would be a step that would not only improve their life, but that of children in the city too.
“One highlight throughout the run-up to this was the motivation of our current carers to get involved, we had carers share their stories of the footprints they have left in a child’s world and the positivity that this not only brought the child, but the carer as well. We had stories of the highs, the lows, the joy and the tears and this was exactly what I wanted, the authentic ‘gloves-off’ truth about fostering. I hoped that by people seeing that it is just ordinary folk doing extraordinary things and that there is no ‘typical’ foster carer or mould you need to fit in.
We have seen a steady increase this year on those thinking about fostering, our enquiry rates continue to rise, but there is so much more to do. Through the Recovery Pledge, Opening Closed Doors, I have made a commitment to recruit a net increase of 50 carers per year for the next three years – but I need the city of Liverpool behind me, I need those thinking that this could be them to have the courage to start this journey.”