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Search underway to find new foster carers

“Anyone can do it. Anyone can actually put themselves forward. Don’t hold back, put yourself forward, go for it. You’ll be surprised.”

That’s according to Pauline, a foster carer in Waltham Forest who – along with other selfless carers – is encouraging anyone who thinks they could help make a life-changing difference to a young person in need to find out about fostering.

Recent figures published by The Fostering Network revealed 9,070 fostering families are needed right across the UK in 2016, to give loving homes and supportive family environments to children. That need is certainly felt here in Waltham Forest, where the Council is trying to find 33 new foster carers this year alone to help accommodate the number of young people who could benefit from a happy home.

To help lift the lid on foster care, carers and care leavers have spoken out about their experiences in a series of short videos online, which you can watch here.

As reward for making an immeasurable difference to the life of a vulnerable young person, foster carers in Waltham Forest are given up to 60 per cent off their Council Tax bill, discounted access to the borough’s six leisure centres and 24/7 support.

Foster carers also receive a fee and allowance for the child of up to £445 per week and access to a lifestyle hub which provides a variety of discounts off major brands and retailers, money off cinema tickets and concessions at major attractions, venues and places of interest.

As well as being given 24/7 dedicated social worker support so they always have someone to turn to should they ever need professional help, they also receive a range of training opportunities.

Pam, who has been a Waltham Forest foster carer for 41 years, said that fostering enabled her to provide children with a family environment in which they could flourish, while also giving her the feeling that she had given something back to the community.

She added: “It’s nice to be recognised, to have money towards your Council Tax – it’s a big incentive. The skills payment is really really good because we’re now being appreciated for the work we do as foster carers in the borough.”

Sajida, who also praised the foster care support she receives from the Council, said she was very happy fostering in Waltham Forest, and would not change a thing. The foster carer of 11 years said: “If you’ve got room in your heart and room in your home, then please go for it. It’s a really amazing thing to do, to change someone’s life.”

Ann Lucy, now aged 20, went into foster care when she was 14. Although initially scared and upset, Ann said her foster carer made her feel like part of the family straight away. “She taught me to be a better person,” Ann said. She didn’t do her job because of the money – she did it because she loved it. She was a good foster mum – she basically saved me. To do this job you have to have a lot of patience, you have to do it because you want to do it.”

Mo, a 20-year-old care leaver who was looked after in Waltham Forest, said: “Don’t look at it as a chore or a job, look at it as having a new person by your side – a new family member. Someone you can help to grow up to become a strong, independent person – so just take care of that person as you would your own kids.”

Cllr Mark Rusling, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “We’re looking for carers from every walk of life. Age, marital status, ethnic background and sexuality are not barriers to fostering, so do get in touch to find out more.”

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