Inspirational Harlow foster parents who have changed the lives of thousands of children in Essex by opening their hearts and homes have been celebrated at a special awards ceremony staged by Essex County Council
Winners from across the county, of all ages and walks of life, received awards in six categories, including ‘Working proactively with children’s birth parents’ which was won by foster couple Helen and Martin Cornwall.
The couple, have one child of their own, and have been fostering for almost 10 years. Martin said: “It’s the icing on the cake for us, but we never expected this kind of accolade. We came into fostering to give something back to society but it’s nice to be recognised in this way.
“Working with birth families is both rewarding and challenging. Every child who is taken into care comes with emotional baggage and extended family that many remain in contact with, but there is huge support from the county council and other foster carers, who have become good friends.
The Cornwalls, along with over 200 people were invited to the ceremony at Billericay’s Stock Brook Country Club where they were treated to ‘afternoon tea’ style refreshments – before departing for the time-honoured school run.
Cllr McKinlay, Cabinet member for Children and Families, said: “We can’t thank these people enough for all the work they do. Becoming a foster carer is a life choice; it’s not something you close the door on at five pm every night.
“With the help of these dedicated people the lives of children who have had a tough start in life, and others with learning difficulties, are given the opportunity to reach their full potential and really shine.”
Essex County Council’s drive to find 100 new foster carers was launched during Foster Care Fortnight, in May. There are around 750 children in foster care in the county and this number has been increasing for the past two years.
In addition, the rate of children leaving care has slowed down, bringing into sharp focus the need to recruit more foster carers for children of all ages, siblings and children with disabilities.
Essex County Council offers high-quality bespoke local training for foster parents, while support groups provide an opportunity for carers and their children to meet and talk to others in a similar situation and many go on to make long-term friendships.
Foster carers are needed on a full and part-time basis for either short or long-term placements and they can be single, married, from a same sex family or retired.
Find out about some of the children you could help, call 0800 801 530, visit www.essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk/fostering.