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Ann-Marie and her husband Daniel
It's Foster Care Fortnight and we're celebrating the difference our carers make to children's lives. Ann-Marie and her husband Daniel, currently have two brothers aged 9 and 6 in their care.

They describe the siblings as looking like they had the weight of the world on their shoulders when they first arrived. Especially the eldest as he would routinely take on the role of carer for his younger brother. They are proud to see how they have both developed in confidence, just by being able to focus on being a child again.

“All they needed was someone to spend time with them and listen to them, which is something they didn’t get before, and we ensure they have that in abundance. Yes, you need patience and empathy, but if you love family life and helping others, this is the most brilliant job you could choose”.

Read more about how they are giving children a second chance at childhood.
Susie with her husband and daughter
Susie Williams, has been providing supported lodgings for 6 months to an 18-year-old. She explains why she wanted to get involved.

“Young people in care need support up to the age of 21, so that they have that transition to independent living.

"It’s more than just providing a home and support for independent living though. At that age family support and nurturing is still incredibly important. Especially when they may have suffered significant trauma and neglect or abuse. They need to be nurtured to achieve their goals in the future."

LGBT+ Adoption & Fostering Week

Wednesday 24 February 2021
Paul
Next week is LGBT+ Adoption & Fostering Week and we wanted to celebrate our foster carers from the LGBT+ community for the incredible care they provide to our children.

Our carers come from all walks of life, all genders and all ages because we know that what’s important is that they can offer the care, security and stability that a vulnerable child needs.

Read Paul and husband Gerry's story of fostering here.
Georgina, her husband and their daughter Martha taking a selfie
Georgina and her husband have the help of a respite carer, who looks after their disabled daughter for 14 nights a month. Read their story to find out the difference respite carers make to families.
"When Sally and Barry fostered Martha on respite, it felt like a weight had been lifted. Sally is an absolute angel; she means everything to us and we class her as another mum to Martha. We have three other children, Jonah (18), Oscar (14) and Tabitha (9). Plus, we both work so can’t give Martha attention all the time. Sally and Barry can give Martha that 24-hour care she needs implicitly."
Barry and Martha playing with tablets on the sofa
Meet Sally and Barry, respite carers for a young girl with disabilities. They talk about the joy they get from supporting another family through fostering.
"We have now been fostering for four years and have looked after five children with disabilities, always for respite care. We are specialist Fee-paid Short Break Carers which means we look after children who require a high level of support and have more complex needs. 12-year-old Martha has been with us for three and a half years now. She really is a part of our family and we know she sees our house as a second home."
Martha with her parents Georgina and Alistair
The impact of COVID-19 has been overwhelming for us all, but a year of restrictions and lockdowns has seen the pressure facing those living with disabled children increase even more. One such family is the Tweeds who have a 12-year-old daughter Martha, with disabilities. Mother, Georgina said: “My husband and I were at breaking point in our relationship - and indeed as a family in general. When Sally and Barry first took Martha so we could have a respite break and she could have the 24-hr care she needs, it felt like a weight had been lifted. It meant we could spend quality time with our other three children and give them the extra attention they need and deserve.”
Poppy
Poppy Heslop who has been fostering for the last 4 years, describes it as ‘bringing back the laughter into her house and giving her so much joy’.
“After my husband died nearly 7 years ago, naturally, I was all over the place emotionally. When a childhood friend, who was already a foster carer, suggested that fostering might be a good option for me, I took a long time to consider it. I just wasn’t sure if I could handle getting close to someone and then watching them leave. But I knew that I had so much more love to give.”
Steve and Janice
Steve and his wife Janice have been fostering for the last five years. Their first placement in 2015 was a five-year-old boy who is still with them now.
"He was a very troubled little boy when he arrived; utterly confused and scared. The consequence of that was emotional outbursts. It was heartbreaking to see.
What really brought it home was when he said to us that if his own mother got rid of him then he wouldn’t expect anyone else to keep him in their home, no matter how much they loved him. It was actions and not just words that he needed.”
Janice Coy and husband
Janice and Colin, from Rayleigh, have been fostering for 16 years and currently have a 13-year-old boy in their care.
Janice had a busy career in the city but had always wanted to work with children. After the birth of her son she wanted to stay home with him and fostering was the perfect fit.
“Fostering isn’t all hugs and smiles - it can be incredibly challenging. But that certainly makes it more rewarding. You don’t need to be special to foster. But it does makes you feel special."
Kim with her grandson
Kim Shears from Clacton has been fostering for 16 years on her own, and currently has two young girls with cerebral palsy in her care. Kim is keen to advocate that a lack of experience, or not having a large home, should not be barriers to coming forward.

“I had always been reluctant to foster a child with disabilities as I didn’t feel that I had the relevant experience.

Little did I know though, my first experience of fostering would reverse my opinion emphatically.