The incredible work carried out by foster carers across Bath and North East Somerset has been celebrated at a special event at the Guildhall.
The awards ceremony hosted by the Chair of the Council, Councillor Karen Walker recognised and acknowledged the hard work and achievements of foster carers in supporting looked after children.
More than 190 children are currently being looked after by Bath &North East Somerset Council and the number of children needing foster homes continues to grow.
Currently 58 foster families provide short and long term placements, respite care and short breaks for children with disabilities across the district.
Among the winners were former teachers Liz and Phil Cole (pictured), who picked up the Lifetime Achievement award. During the 16 years they have been foster carers Liz and Phil have assisted a number of children on to adoption, as well as continuing to support a young person in care with them. All children thrive in their care.
Liz said: “We have four of our own children and when they grew up and left home the house just seemed too empty so we decided to give fostering a go. We have never looked back and we get as much out of it as the children we’ve looked after.
“Our own children have been very supportive in fact one of our foster children is going to be best man at our son’s wedding.”
Phil added: “We have fostered for Bath & North East Somerset Council for fifteen years and have always felt very supported by the team.”
Ashley Ayre, chief executive of the council, said “Fostering really does change lives and we are extremely grateful to all our foster families who care for, love and support looked after children. Foster carers are very special people and they all deserve to be recognised. Their dedication and devotion helps to improve the lives of many young people. We heard some inspiring stories at the awards ceremony, stories which I hope will encourage others to think about becoming foster carers.”
In total 26 families, who between them have provided more than 250 years of foster care service, were nominated for special awards and 14 families were recognised with lifetime achievement certificates for their long service.
The individual category winners were:
Leila Pickering and Lee Hooper:
Although they have only been foster carers for 11 months, Leila and Lee are great advocates for the child in their care; placing the child’s needs first and going above and beyond to ensure their high level of emotional needs are met. Leila has demonstrated a knowledge, reflective capacity and desire to learn more that is reminiscent of a much more experienced carer.
Above and Beyond:
Sharyn and Steve Schuster:
Sharyn and Steve have been foster carers for an incredible 37 years. They were nominated for their hard work and dedication in caring for children with disabilities by providing short breaks for their parents.
Outstanding Contribution to the Service:
Liza Walker and Ken Freston:
Liza and Ken are retiring from foster caring after 12 years. They have seen their young person through to adulthood, going above and beyond in their support for him enabling him to build independence.
Moving on to Permanence:
Julie and Phil Elmes:
Julie and Phil were overwhelmingly supportive of the children they cared for. During the adoption process they managed not just the introductions, but a placement a long distance from home following a long drawn out court process. The relationship they quickly developed with the adopters was fantastic and enabled a very smooth placement for the two children. Julie, Phil and their family supported the children brilliantly preparing them well for their move.
Liz and Phil Cole:
During the 16 years they have been foster carers Liz and Phil have assisted a number of children on to adoption, as well as continuing to support a young person in care with them. All children thrive in their care.
Children and young people of all ages and from all backgrounds come into care when they are unable to live with their birth parents for a period of time.
This ranges from a few weeks, for example when a family is in a short term crisis, to long term placements with children being provided with a home and supportive family for as long as they need. Children in care are very likely to have experienced traumatic periods in their early lives and foster carers are trained to support children they care for.
With the number of children needing foster homes continuing to rise the council is keen to hear from people who are thinking about becoming foster carers particularly people who are interested in looking after siblings or teenagers.
Foster carers come from all backgrounds and bring a wide range of life and work experiences. Training and support is provided to help develop the skills needed to meet the needs of children in care.
To become a foster carer you must:
- be at least 21 years-old
- have a spare bedroom big enough for a young person to live in
- be a full-time resident in the UK or have leave to remain
- be reasonably fit - physically and emotionally. However, disability isn’t a barrier to fostering.
You can be of any religion or from any cultural background. Your relationship status or sexuality is not a barrier to becoming a foster carer.
If you are interested in fostering and would like to find out more visit: https://fostering.bathnes.gov.uk/
You can also contact our Family Placement Team by calling 01225 394949 or by emailing: email@example.com