Pandemic inspired new foster carers to come forward
The county council is celebrating welcoming 45 new families to their community of foster carers, but many more carers are still needed for local children.
The last twelve months has seen many examples of people offering their support for others and fostering is no exception. A year ago, the government introduced a scheme to approve emergency foster carers during the pandemic, and the council was approached by many people inspired to offer their home and open their hearts to care for vulnerable children and young people. Far from making things harder, the need to stay at home prompted a move to online assessments, which made the process easier for some.
Amanda and Guy Hemphill from Cheltenham answered the call for emergency foster carers during the first lockdown and have now welcomed two young sisters into their lives.
They said: “When the pandemic struck Amanda saw a foster carer on the news talking about the need for new foster carers to come forward. Having discussed it at home, it really dawned on us that this was a huge opportunity to make a genuine difference to the life of a young person who had not had the start in life that most of us take for granted.
“The timing was right for us and we felt ready for the challenge. We rang Gloucestershire County Council, did some research online and before too long, we had started the online training for emergency foster carers.
“Six months later we have two girls living with us and feel that fostering has been a positive experience both for ourselves and our three birth children. Our foster children appreciate the simple things in life, be it a Sunday roast, a clean school uniform, a hot water bottle or going for a family bike ride. Every day that goes by we feel that they are a little bit more a part of the family and with five children in the house, there is rarely a dull moment!”
Business owner Michael Mozynski from Stroud and his wife also came forward as the pandemic offered them the chance of doing most of the assessments online.
Michael said: “My wife and I decided to use the first lockdown to become foster parents – in fact doing the very extensive interviews and training was an excellent use of our new found time at home. To the credit of Gloucestershire County Council’s fostering service, they quickly pivoted to doing the entire process on Zoom – which worked very well.
“Social workers often get a bad press, but seeing first hand the detail they go into to ensure child safety was very inspiring.
“We ‘graduated’ in November and took on our first child, a highly energetic and demanding six year old, in December for emergency respite care.”
Cllr Richard Boyles, cabinet member for children’s safeguarding and early years at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Covid-19 has changed all of our lives and, given many people a chance to reflect on their day to day life. I’m really pleased this has prompted more people to seriously consider fostering. These new foster carers will provide a loving home to many vulnerable children for years to come and it’s great to see something so positive come out of the pandemic.
“If you have ever considered fostering, don’t wait any longer, please get in touch with our team today.”
Demand for foster homes for Gloucestershire children has soared with almost 800 children currently in care in the county. The council is appealing for more people to come forward to provide a safe and loving home to local children.
You need to be over 21 to foster with a spare room in your home. Visit www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/fostering or call 01242 532654 for more information.