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Local Fostering Communities to be celebrated in Cambridgeshire

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Fostering communities is the theme of adopted locally to celebrate national Foster Care Fortnight.

Cambridgeshire County Council is proud to be supporting this year’s Foster Care Fortnight, hosted by the Fostering Network, which runs until May 22 and focuses on ‘fostering communities’.

The Fostering Service is using this theme to celebrate how their foster carers and staff come together to support their fostering community.

Cambridgeshire County Council is celebrating national Foster Care Fortnight. Picture: Cambridgeshire County Council (56656038)
Cambridgeshire County Council is celebrating national Foster Care Fortnight. Picture: Cambridgeshire County Council (56656038)

The service will look back over the last two years and celebrate how the fostering community supported each other during the pandemic and acknowledge the fantastic work of the foster carers who had to take on the role of teacher and help to maintain children’s contact with their birth families.

During the various lockdowns, locally based foster carer Anne, who has fostered for Cambridgeshire County Council for 10 years with her husband Alan and is an ambassador and mentor for her fostering community, providing care to children of ages ranging from 18 months to 8 years.

“Alan and I enjoy having a house full of children,” Anne explained. “We have extended our house, so we have the space to welcome sibling groups into our home – it’s important for them to stay together. They play together and learn from each other. Of course, there's a lot of laundry.”

Cambridgeshire County Council is celebrating national Foster Care Fortnight. Picture: Cambridgeshire County Council (56656038)
Cambridgeshire County Council is celebrating national Foster Care Fortnight. Picture: Cambridgeshire County Council (56656038)

Anne was pleasantly surprised at how well she was able to adapt as a foster carer to the virtual world that government restrictions brought with them.

“We certainly weren’t lonely,” she said. “Whilst initially I didn’t see anyone face-to-face, I didn’t feel like I was doing my job on my own. I quickly learned to operate Zoom and Teams and connected with the virtual support from the Fostering Service.

“The Fostering Service also provides a wide range of training, so we were equipped to understand the challenges these children face and how to best support them.”

Anne and her foster family also found their own ways of keeping up their spirits during lockdowns, working together as a household to organise activities.

“The older children helped to create routines for the younger ones,” said Anne. “We enjoyed our daily walks and spent time in our garden every afternoon – weather permitting!”

Anne mentors newly approved foster carers and has done so for the past five years – a role which, for the early stages of the pandemic, became virtual too.

“Because I was close by, I was still able to provide peer-to-peer support for new carers, speaking to them on the phone and introducing them to other carers via WhatsApp,” Anne explained.

“Then, as things opened up, I started a monthly coffee morning so that carers could come together for a chat. It's so important to connect with other carers and I'm really happy that I can support my local fostering community in this way.”

Councillor Bryony Goodliffe, chair of Cambridgeshire’s children and young people’s committee, was full of praise for Anne, saying: “Anne’s story is a shining example of how a strong community spirit can help not just you but those around you overcome the odds.

“Despite the challenges of Covid, the Local Authority was able to provide wrap-around support and use creative ways to ensure our carers were not alone, utilising their community and fellow carers. It’s a great comfort to know that carers like Anne not only felt they were still receiving all the support they needed, albeit remotely for a while, but also go above and beyond to provide support of their own to fellow carers.”

Cambridgeshire County Council is home to an active and established fostering community, offering plenty of local opportunities to meet up with fellow carers and members of staff to share support and advice. With a calendar full of local events and activities for carers and the children they look after, several popular support groups across the county now offering face-to-face and virtual sessions that reach across Cambridgeshire, and regular training sessions delivered locally in conjunction with local services, new Foster Carers are always welcomed into a ready-made community of peers.

Throughout May and June, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fostering Service will be sharing stories like Anne’s across its social media channels using the hashtag #FosteringCommunities.

Each month, around 50 children and young people in care are referred to the Fostering Service with the need to find homes for teenagers, sibling groups and children with disabilities being especially urgent.

If you can provide a safe, loving environment in which a child or young person who cannot live with their birth family can flourish and want to make a difference to local children, we really want to hear from you. You too could become part of your Local Authority Fostering Service:

· Call 0800 052 0078

· Text FOSTERING to 60777 · Email fostering@cambridgeshire.gov.uk · Visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/fostering

· Follow @CCCFosteringservice on Facebook

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