A speclal event aimed at encouraging more people in Liverpool to become foster carers has been hailed an instant success.
More than 400 people logged online to watch the special live question and answers session at Liverpool Town Hall. And the team behind the event say they have already had a number of people come forward to register their interest in becoming foster carers.
Liverpool is facing a shortage of foster families, with 1,300 children in care in the city and just 350 foster carers on Liverpool city council’s books. This means that the council has to use private fostering agencies for 250 young people, which can cost far more.
The town hall event saw more than 30 audience members, including representatives from The Everyman Theatre, NSPCC, Sefton Council Fostering Service, Cobalt and Torus Housing associations, as well as members of the public, speaking with foster carers and a care leaver about the difference fostering can make to the lives of children who need the love and support the most.
The event was streamed on the Liverpool City Council Twitter page.
The panel guests included Steve Reddy, Director of Children’s and Young Peoples services, two Liverpool foster carers, a care leaver along with key people from the fostering service.
Foster carers Linda and Alison have been the ‘faces’ of the awareness campaign and everyone in the audience was inspired to hear their amazing success stories, which undeniably helped to bust some myths about what it is like to foster teenagers, sibling groups, and children with additional needs; who traditionally the council faces the biggest challenges in finding placements for.
The campaign’s aim is to raising the profile and get people talking about fostering, during the lead up to Foster Care Fortnight, (5th-19th May, 2019), during which the council will be holding fostering events across the city where anyone who is interested in fostering and wants to take the first step, can attend to find out more.
Liverpool City Council’s Director of Children’s Services, Steve Reddy said: “This was a fantastic event that helped us to present some of the facts and explode some of the myths around fostering. It was incredibly well-supported both by members of the public and our partner organisations and we are delighted to say that it may have already delivered results.
“Fostering is one of the most worthwhile things you can do and you will be making a real and last difference to the life of a young person.”
“Foster carers come from all walks of life, so if you have a spare room and love in your heart for a child, we’d like to hear from you.”
Rebecca Ross-Williams, Engagement Director at the Everyman Theatre said: “The event today was inspiring to see and hear a mix of people who passionately understand the importance of supporting looked after children and the difference fostering can make to their lives – whether it be carers, young people with lived experience or city stakeholders. Everyman and Playhouse are looking forward to working in partnership going forward”
Alex Modder, manager of the NSPCC’s Hargreaves centre on Great Homer Street said: “Liverpool City Council’s commitment to supporting foster carers in the city is hugely important and I was really pleased to take part in the Fostering Discussion Panel Event and hear from some extraordinary carers who have their foster children’s best interests at heart.
“The NSPCC’s Reflective Fostering programme aims to help Liverpool’s foster carers build strong and positive relationships with their foster children and promote a sense of stability.”
Peter Yates, Sefton Council’s Service Manager for Corporate Parenting, said: “It was great to be involved in the Fostering Panel Discussion Event. The information shared between a range of people from all backgrounds, each with their own insight into fostering, was invaluable.
“Most local authorities currently face the same challenges, with the rising number of looked after children and the struggle to recruit new carers. We are now looking forward to working more collaboratively with other councils across Merseyside, sharing best practice and helping each other raise awareness about fostering.”