Foster families were welcomed into St Helens Town Hall for a teddy bear’s picnic as part of activities planned to mark Foster Care Fortnight – the UK’s biggest foster care awareness-raising campaign.
Held until 28 May, Foster Care Fortnight is The Fostering Network’s annual campaign, backed by St Helens Borough Council, to raise the profile of fostering and show how foster care transforms lives.
As this year’s campaign gets underway, 38 foster children and their families recently visited the town hall where they were treated to an afternoon of fun and games, complete with a teddy bear’s picnic, at an event organised by the council’s fostering team to thank current carers for their commitment in a bid to attract new recruits.
In St Helens, there are more than 480 children and young people in the care of the local authority, with a need for more foster carers to provide them with the loving home that they deserve.
Foster Care Fortnight is the latest campaign St Helens Borough Council is getting behind to drive up carer numbers, following a successful Foster Fest event earlier this year.
Elsie Horan has been a registered foster carer with St Helens Borough Council for the past 11 years.
Talking about their experiences to encourage more foster carers to come forward, Elsie, said: “After finishing work and looking after my own granddaughter, I thought fostering was worth a go – and after 11 years of numerous placements and respite, here we are.
“It’s just the most rewarding job that you don’t do for the money but for the pleasure in seeing the children getting along with your help and hearing them say ‘I love you’ and giving you the biggest hugs.
“As a grandma, It’s also heart-warming to hear the children who I care for call me grandma as well. My proudest moment is definitely helping children develop and progress, with one getting their school report to find out she had caught up academically with the rest of the class which she thanked me for with a ‘I love you Grandma.’ You just can’t put a price on it.
“The fostering team at the council can’t do enough to help you. There is always someone to talk to at the end of the phone and listen to you when you have a problem, someone is always there to help you out.”
Councillor Nova Charlton, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, joined the now former Mayor of St Helens Borough, Councillor Sue Murphy, and St Helens Borough Council Chief Executive, Kath O’Dwyer, in attending the teddy’s bear picnic to show her support.
Councillor Charlton said: “As a corporate parent, the council is responsible for caring for more than 480 children and young people which largely outweighs the number of foster carers we currently have registered with us.
“Events like this show our level of commitment when it comes to becoming a foster carer. You don’t just sign up and get left to it – support is in place from our experienced team who are there to guide you every step of the way of this rewarding job which helps us as a council achieve our number one priority of ensuring every child and young people has the best start in life.”
Could you foster? Call 01744 01744 671146 or visit www.fostering.sthelens.gov.uk for more information.