FOSTER CARE FORTNGHT: video poem shines spotlight on why fostering changes lives

Foster Carers in Redbridge have teamed up virtually to record a heartfelt video poem about why they care for the borough’s most vulnerable children, with the aim of encouraging more families to follow in their footsteps.

‘Why We Care’ shines a light on the life changing role of fostering, and was released on Redbridge Council’s YouTube channel for Foster Care Fortnight, taking place May 10-23.

The poem was created and voiced by 12 of the borough’s foster carers, and reveals their experiences of fostering, as well as encouraging others to consider fostering.

Currently there are 42 foster care households working with Redbridge Council, but the borough needs more.

Tracy Bishop, featured in the video, has been fostering for Redbridge for nearly four years.

Over the years Tracy and her family have cared for nine foster children ranging from new born to teens, and she says the only thing you need to be a great foster parent is “a big heart and lots of love to give”.

Tracy, 52, continued: “I always knew fostering was going to be a big part of our lives. It has been in our hearts as a family for a long time, so when we were finally able to make it happen we grabbed the opportunity!

“My biological children love having foster children as part of our family as it’s like having extra siblings.

“It blows my mind every single day seeing the difference you can make to a child’s life by investing your time, love and support in them. Yes, it’s challenging at times, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges.

“I’d urge others to consider fostering as there are children, not just in Redbridge but across London, who need a stable home, filled with love and support. It’s one of the most rewarding things you can do in life.”

Jake Riley, 19, has been in foster care since he was 5, and with the same Redbridge foster family since the age of 6.

The budding doctor, is currently studying Medicine at a leading London university.

Jake said: “I feel really lucky, and have such a strong bond with my foster family. It seems silly calling them my foster family – to me they are my real family.

“They’ve given me so many fantastic opportunities, and have always been there cheering me on, and encouraging me to follow my dreams. They gave me the confidence to believe in myself. If you can foster a child, please do it because the love and support you are able to give can change a life.”

To view the video poem ‘Why We Care’ go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=py0NMmSmtdM

Foster carers are offered financial support of up to £457 per child, per week, and there are also training opportunities, access to a fostering network and a ‘buddy system’ available to provide further support to new foster carers.

Additional financial allowances can also be provided for uniforms, religious festivals, birthdays and holidays. There is also up to an 80% council tax discount.

Cllr Elaine Norman, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Seeing the change in the children throughout their time in foster care is remarkable.

“Our foster carers do an incredible job of providing a loving secure home for young people at a vulnerable time in their lives. They make a real difference to the children’s lives and their future.

“If you are able to foster for Redbridge or want more information, please do get in touch with the council.”

For more information, or if you are considering fostering for Redbridge, please email the council’s fostering team on [email protected] or call on 020 8708 6068.

Alternatively book on to their next information session on: www.redbridge.gov.uk/fostering

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]