A host of celebrities are backing a Barnardo’s campaign to highlight the importance of having someone to support you in aid of the charity’s urgent campaign to find thousands of foster carers to look after the UK’s most vulnerable children.
Singer Paloma Faith, former TOWIE TV star Debbie Douglas and Lydia Bright, Cold Feet actress Fay Ripley, Love Island’s Marcel Somerville, Gogglebox vicar Kate Bottley and gold medallist sprinter Jamie Baulch are using #wesupportfostering to share personal images of their families and the people who have supported them through thick and thin for Barnardo’s Fostering week launched Monday 22.
Dr Thomas Barnardo started fostering children more than 130 years ago and since then the charity has helped hundreds of thousands of the UK’s most vulnerable children to grow up happy and healthy.
Now, the UK’s leading children’s charity is calling for more people to consider providing caring, stable home environments to help transform young lives as there’s a pressing need to find more than 7,000 foster carers in the next 12 months to support children desperately in need of loving families.
The foster carer drive comes as new YouGov research for the charity reveals nearly half (46%) of people think a lack of support from fostering agencies is likely to put people off fostering. While 62% say they think people may not be confident they can look after a foster child, and 45% believe not having any training on how to be a foster carer could be an issue.
In stark contrast, a poll by Barnardo’s of their own foster carers reveals that more than 8 in 10 carers (82%) are happy with the level of support and advice they receive from their Barnardo’s fostering service and believed it was “excellent” or “good”, while three quarters (75%) said they would recommend their Barnardo’s fostering service to others.
Barnardo’s foster carers rate the support and training they receive highly, with almost 80 per cent telling us that our out of hours support was either good or very good. Almost 90 per cent of them also rated Barnardo’s supervising social workers as good or very good.
The State of the Nation’s Foster Care survey is a UK benchmarking survey of foster carers conducted by the Fostering Network, which works with fostering services and the wider sector to develop and share best practices. In comparison to the Barnardo’s survey, just 44 per cent of the survey’s respondents rated the out of hours support provided by their agency, as good or very good. Nearly three quarters (73%) rated their supervising social workers as good or very good.
Barnardo’s support includes a dedicated 24-hour access to a qualified social worker, training, access to foster carer support groups, short breaks and a generous financial fee.
Mum-of-one Paloma Faith, who shares an archive image of her and her mum as a toddler, is keen to emphasise the importance of having support while bringing up a child.
Paloma said: “Raising a child is so rewarding but it can also be a challenge, so knowing you have someone to help you when you need it makes such a difference. Barnardo’s is special because they provide their foster carers with continual support and advice, no matter how big or small the problem.”
Barnardo’s ambassador Debbie Douglas, who has fostered more than 200 children over the 25 years, said: “I would urge people to consider fostering as opening your heart and home to a vulnerable child is one of the most rewarding things you can do.
It can be challenging but the satisfaction of knowing you have helped transform a child’s life for the better is wonderful.”
Debbie’s foster daughter Ellie highlights how important it is for a foster child to feel supported by their foster carer.
Ellie said: “Being in care can be hard but having a loving and supportive foster family makes a huge difference. Life is so much better knowing that you have their support when you need it; someone to care for you, to love you, to help you solve problems and to help you grow up.”
Actress Fay Ripley believes it is important for parents and carers to know they are not alone.
She said: “Caring for a child is wonderful yet all parents know it can also be challenging at times. No matter if you’re a parent or a carer, everyone needs someone to turn to when things get tough. That’s why the continuous support Barnardo’s provide to carers is essential during a foster carers journey – it gives them the tools to help children achieve the best possible outcomes.”
Above: Fay Ripley with her daughter
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said: “Children who have been taken into care have sometimes experienced trauma or difficult circumstances making everyday challenges more difficult to overcome.
Having a foster carer to support them through the difficult times can help enormously but our carers can only do this if they’re properly supported too. That’s why we ensure they have everything they need whether that’s advice, training or peer support, to feel confident they can help transform a young life.”