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Celebrating the difference that foster mums make

Sue, Chiara and Albana

Friday 1 March 2024

As Mother’s Day approaches, Essex County Council is celebrating the difference that foster mums make to the lives of the children they care for.

Fostering can be a rewarding experience for people whose children have grown up or those looking to expand their family.

Sue Unwin and her husband Ray have been fostering for nine years and currently look after 17-year-old Chiara.

They spend Mother’s Day like many other families across the country.

Sue said: “We celebrate like other families: everybody comes round, even the extended family, and we cook lots of food. Chiara buys me flowers and a card, and it’s a really special day for us all.”

When asked what advice she would give to others looking to fostering, Sue said: “Nobody is sure about fostering in the beginning – just take it step by step. There is no commitment when finding out more. I’ve been very surprised by my journey. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.

“My time spent fostering has been one of my favourite decades.”

Chiara also expressed how grateful she is to have Sue in her life.

“I’ve never met someone like Sue – she means a lot to me. It’s like having two mums – two loves, two pieces of advice, two everything.”

Chiara’s birth mother, Albana, has an excellent relationship with Sue, and feels reassured that Chiara is happy living in her home.

She said: “Sue is a real mum. Chiara is getting a good education and a good lifestyle which I couldn’t give to her when I was unwell. I feel that Sue is part of our family here in England.”

Chiara’s story highlights the importance of a loving mother figure to a young person in care. A stable foundation in a safe home can give a child everything they need to excel in life.

Chiara said: “Sue has helped me a lot over the past couple of years. She has been there for me through thick and thin, and it’s taken a lot to become who I am now. She has brought me together a lot.”

Councillor Beverley Egan, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Early Years at Essex County Council, added: “It fills me with great pride to see the extraordinary impact foster carers have on the lives of children across the county. Children in care need mother figures now more than ever. We provide all carers with the support and training to give young people a safe, loving home.”

To find out more about fostering, visit the website or attend a local information event. Alternatively, call 0800 801 530 for more information.