Foster carers recognised and remembered at national event
Last weekend, the whole of the UKs fostering community came together to recognise the work of foster carers during the Covid19 pandemic and to thank them, and to remember those from the fostering community who sadly lost their lives.
In the past year, and amidst the Covid19 pandemic, over 55,000 foster families provided stable and loving homes to more than 65,000 children across the UK. This has been done in the most extraordinary circumstances, making foster carers one of the many unsung heroes of the pandemic.
Speaking at the event, Children’s Minister, Vicky Ford MP, said of the fostering community:
“I am humbled by the families who have continued to offer a safe caring environment for the children who need it. I am also very grateful to those of you who have stepped up to make this happen, by offering much needed support to those who need it and persevering despite the extraordinary circumstances. It is at times when we all pull together that we see how powerful the dedication and commitment you all demonstrate really is.”
The Minister went on to say: “The added pressures you have faced during this global pandemic cannot be overstated. With the closure of schools and social distancing rules meaning you could often only receive virtual support from both loved ones and professionals.”
“You have all made sacrifices, whether you’re a child, young person, or foster carer, and I would like to pay testament to each and every one of you. Thank you.”
Speaking at the event, Minister for Health, Robin Swann MLA, said of the fostering community:
“This has been a difficult year for foster carers and in these unprecedented times all of you continue to provide love, support, and stability to the children and young people in your care. Your resilience, your dedication, and your commitment has been nothing short of amazing.
“If the last year has taught us anything, it is the need to care for and look out for and look after each other. As we ease into the last round of restrictions and look to the future, I want to reassure you that our attention has already turned to rebuilding children’s social services and foster carers will be a key part of this.”
Kevin Williams, Chief Executive of The Fostering Network, said:
“I know that you as foster carers have had to face many challenges from contact, to home schooling. From 24-hour care with no breaks to beginning to help young people re-enter the world of school. Thank you.
“We have all learnt much during the last year and I hope that for many they have learnt how valuable foster care is. How important the role of foster carers is. How foster care transforms children’s lives. Again two small words, but said with a heartfelt pride for all that foster care does, thank you.”
Elle, a care-experienced young person, said:
“My foster carers are the best thing to ever happen to me. They are the reason I got into university, they are the reason I got the support I needed, and they are the reason I can say I have a family and a home. My foster carers saved me.”
Marlene, a foster carer from Northern Ireland, said:
“I have been a foster carer for the last 13 years, and I have shared my home with a lot of different children. My favourite thing about being a foster carer is the memories made and the progress I see in the children.
“Sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to see the progress, but that’s when I open up my photo albums and remember how far the children have come. That’s like winning the lottery to me, it’s why I love being a foster carer.”
With over 8,600 new foster families needed across the UK in 2021, becoming a foster carer could be the ideal opportunity for those with the right skills to give back to their community and make a positive difference to the lives of children and young people.
In recent months The Fostering Network has heard encouraging reports from its members that people across the UK are showing an interest in becoming foster carers having had time to re-evaluate their priorities during lockdown and deciding they want to use the skills, experience and love they have, to benefit others.
By becoming a foster carer, individuals become part of a community who are dedicating their lives for the betterment of children and young people.