Blackpool Council supports Foster Care Fortnight

Next week marks the start of Foster Care Fortnight, an annual campaign that aims to raise the profile of fostering and highlight the incredible work foster carers do to transform children’s lives.

Running from 13-26 May, Foster Care Fortnight is a national campaign organised by the charity, The Fostering Network. The fortnight of activity helps to increase awareness around the need for more foster carers.

In Blackpool, there are currently around 265 children and young people in the care of an independent fostering agency (IFA) or in residential care, some of whom are awaiting a loving foster home.

To honour its hardworking and dedicated foster carers, Blackpool Council will be holding a host of activities.

The iconic Blackpool Tower will be lighting up in pink as a way of saying thanks to the council’s foster carers, and to raise awareness of the need for more people to consider fostering.

A raffle will be held daily throughout the fortnight for the council’s foster carers to be in with a chance to win a range of prizes kindly donated by some of the town’s attractions. These include free family passes to the Sandcastle Waterpark, Blackpool Zoo, and The Backlot Cinema as well as a gift certificate from the Winter Gardens. Other prizes include a wellness gift hamper from Asda and a range of other items.

The council’s fostering team and foster carers will take part in a walk along the Promenade on Thursday 16 May before being treated to tea and cake at the Solaris Centre. They will then be encouraged to share some heartwarming stories from their fostering journeys in keeping with the ‘fostering moments’ theme for Foster Care Fortnight 2024, which focuses on the everyday interactions that make a lasting impact.

As a foster carer with Blackpool Council, people can make a positive difference to the lives of local children and their own.

Jane and Michael Fletcher have recently retired from fostering with the council after ten years. The couple, who live in Pilling, have fostered around 25 newborn babies during this time.

They first started fostering when their grandchildren had started school. Jane had taken retirement to care for her grandchildren whilst Michael continued to work as a sub-postmaster until around 2018.

Fostering is something that the couple had wanted to do for some time, however they had presumed that they were too old to be considered.

Jane said: “We had gone to a country show where we started talking to a lady and gentleman who had three young children with them. We asked how they managed with looking after all three children at once thinking they were their grandchildren, and this is where we found out they were foster carers. We then had the confidence to apply for fostering as we now realised that our age didn’t matter as this couple were around 10 years older than us.

“Foster caring has really changed our lives in a positive way. It is one of the best jobs we have had. In fact, the best job in the world.

“The most rewarding part of fostering was starting to look after the babies when they were very small and seeing them growing up. Some of the foster children have stayed in touch – it feels like having over 20 grandchildren!

“There have been so many memorable experiences, it’s hard to name just one. However, within the last year or two, the first little boy who we fostered came back to see us. It was lovely to see what a beautiful young boy he had turned into.”

Cllr Jim Hobson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care, said: “Foster Care Fortnight provides an ideal opportunity to recognise the dedication of our foster carers.

“We would like to thank Jane and Michael as well as every other member of our fostering family for offering love, stability and understanding to the children in their care.

“It’s heartwarming to hear some of the treasured memories of how our fosters carers have made children feel safe and loved. For the right individual or family, fostering is an incredible journey as it enables them to make a lasting and positive impact on the children in Blackpool who need it the most.

“We often hear that people believe they are too old to foster when in fact there is no official upper age limit for foster carers. If you’re 21 years of age and over, and have a spare bedroom then please don’t rule yourself out.

“We offer ongoing support and training from our dedicated team as well as a competitive financial rewards package. Please get in touch if you feel like fostering could be the right fit for you.”

Blackpool Council is one of five local authorities set to benefit from £1.2m to boost foster carer recruitment in the region.

Along with Blackburn with Darwen Council, Cumberland Council, Westmorland and Furness Council, and Lancashire County Council, the council has been awarded funding from the Department for Education to launch a regional foster carer recruitment hub during spring 2024.

To find out more about fostering, visit www.blackpool.gov.uk/fostering

or call 01253 420222.

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