Oldham Council is asking people to do something incredible this New Year and consider becoming foster carers.
We are keen to hear from anyone who is able to offer a home to an Oldham child or young person, especially those who are able to look after older children, including teenagers.
Councillor Jenny Harrison, Cabinet Member for Social Care and Safeguarding, said: “Many people have considered fostering, but have never actually done anything about it. This New Year we are asking people to stop thinking about it and to give us a call. Becoming a foster carer is one of the most incredible and rewarding things you can do, helping a child or young person when they need it the most.”
“You can apply to foster regardless of marital status, sexuality, race or religion, or whether you are in work or have a disability. All we ask is that you are over 21, enjoy working with children and have room in your home.”
Clare and Alec Matthews, from Chadderton, have been fostering for Oldham Council since 2007. They care for a teenage boy and a child with complex needs.
Clare said “We talked about fostering for some time before making the phone call to our local authority. Having two children of our own we felt we had acquired the skills to help other families. We attended preparation training and learned that there are so many reasons why fostering is needed by some families and this made us want to really succeed in helping where we could.”
“We have been fostering now for 10 years and there have been many highs. One of them being a child moving in to our home on a short-term basis and that turning into a long-term placement, which has so far lasted almost 9 years. It is also lovely watching the children in our care succeed, seeing them take advantage of the opportunities we have provided for them and turning them into tangible skills they may never have been able to get otherwise.
“Fostering can be challenging at times and our worst moment was when one of our foster boys had to leave our care after six years with us. We were really saddened by this, but that was two years ago now, and we still have a good relationship with him. Although this was our worst moment, we had lots of support and it was never so bad that we couldn’t overcome it and move forward in a positive way.”
Alec added: “We didn’t start out wanting to foster teenagers; we fell into it really because our eldest foster child came to live with us aged six and is still here now. He is a huge part of our family and extended family. Teenagers are challenging but also very rewarding, our teen is flourishing and very much enjoying life. We wouldn’t want life without him now.
“We met our youngest foster child almost two years ago and immediately wanted to look after him long-term. He does need some extra help and support and when we got to know and understand him, we felt we had the ability to help him develop. With support from our social workers he has built excellent relationships with us and us with him. He has made amazing progress in a short time and we have done further training in order to complement our care for him.”
Clare said: “If you are thinking of fostering, my advice would be to be open minded to the age groups of children that you think you may be most suited to caring for. The young people you care for need a safe, caring environment in which they can grow and feel secure in. Take all of the training available to you, seek support when you need it, listen to the needs of the child and enjoy.”
Carers receive a tailored support package, plus payments and allowances up to £29,000 per year (dependent on skills and experience).
Call 0161 770 6600 or visit www.oldham.gov.uk/fostering to find out more.