Liverpool foster carers share their stories to inspire others
A NEW campaign in which foster carers explain how looking after children in care has changed their lives for the better has been launched in Liverpool.
‘Small moments, big difference’ features inspiring stories from three people who look after sibling groups and teenagers, and is aimed at encouraging more people to come forward to foster with the local authority.
Last year the council’s fostering service received 522 referrals, of which almost one-third (166) were brothers or sisters.
Because there is a shortage of council foster carers, 31 per cent of the sibling groups were placed with external fostering agencies – some of them outside of the city, or were separated
Over half of looked-after children in Liverpool are aged 10 and over, and last year alone the fostering service received 167 referrals for this group.
Liverpool foster carer Maria shares a fostering memory that made her realise the difference she’s made. With Maria’s love and support, three siblings are now truly able to be themselves.
She said: “When you see the kids grow and flourish and do their own thing, you look back and you think they may not have got that far, if they’d been split up.
“The thing I love about fostering is that it doesn’t discriminate, anyone can become a foster carer. There’s always someone out there who needs that care, who needs that love.
“It’s been rewarding for me. I’m 58 and I don’t know when I’m ever going to stop!”
Debbie and Dot’s story
After two years of fostering, Debbie and Dot reflect on the equal joy and heartache of “fostering firsts” for them and the three siblings they foster.
“When he said, ‘I love you Nanny Deb and Nanny Dot’, we knew we had gained their trust.
“My advice if you’re thinking of fostering would be go for it! Don’t wait as long as we did. But only go for it if your heart is really in it. They’ve had a big change in their lives, and you can make that difference, and I think we have.”
As a sole male foster carer, Stephen is passionate about supporting teenagers at a crucial time in their lives.
He said: “I try and be firm but fair. Have that banter with them and speak on their level as well as being their guardian and setting boundaries.
“Guiding, talking and believing in them, and even that bit of trust in them, helps them make the right decisions.”
Stuart Williams, service manager for Fostering, Adoption and Residential Care Services, said: “Across the city we have some truly inspirational people who foster for us.
“Knowing the impact foster carers have on our young people, fills me with the confidence.
“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, we have made a commitment to recruit a net increase of 50 carers per year for the next three years but we need the city of Liverpool behind us – we need those thinking that this could be them to have the courage to start this journey.”
Councillor Frazer Lake, cabinet member for children’s social care, added: “There is nothing more powerful or inspiring than sharing real stories to show the difference fostering makes to children’s and young people’s lives. “We also wanted to show that foster carers can all come from different walks of life. If you can offer a happy and secure home to a child, we’d love to speak with you.”
On 29 July, from 6-7pm, the fostering service will be holding a webinar with foster carer Maria as a guest speaker. Find all the details and more at www.fostering.liverpool.gov.uk