Hundreds of foster carers across East Sussex are transforming the lives of children by offering them a safe and loving home.
But with 50 more children waiting for a placement at any one time East Sussex County Council is using Foster Care Fortnight (May 14 – 27) to encourage more people to consider becoming foster carers.
To the army of foster carers currently registered with the local authority, fostering is not a job but the opportunity to make a difference to the life of a child who has not had a good start and for a group of friends in Hastings, the challenges of fostering are made easier by a supportive network of friends and fellow carers.
“We’ve made lifelong friends with other foster carers and they are people we would never have met if we didn’t do this,” said Marney, who began fostering 14 years ago.
Friend and fellow foster carer Jenny, who has been fostering for six years, added: “We are all local, we go on courses locally, we meet lots of other foster cares – you build up your own support network. I think that is a massive part – the emotional support.”
Marney and Jenny began fostering after seeing first-hand the difference they could make. Their friend Sarah has been a foster carer for 16 years and the pair were encouraged by what they saw.
“You don’t realise the impact you can have on a child’s life,” said Marney, who began fostering 14 years ago. “You can make massive changes to their lives.”
“Fostering is not a job. You have to accept that it will change your life and challenge you,” added Sarah. “But being a foster carer is a two way relationship, you get back as much as you give.”
The friends want to encourage as many people as possible to consider fostering in East Sussex and believe there are very few reasons why someone couldn’t do it.
Jenny said: “It’s not about material things. Children can have all the best toys and the best clothes but still be neglected. It’s the small things they need, the things we often take for granted.”
“They just want someone to listen to them and provide a normal family life,” Sarah added. “For some, it’s something they have never had.”
While becoming a foster carer can throw up many challenges, East Sussex County Council’s fostering team is on hand to provide advice, support and training.
Sarah said: “In the 16 years I have been fostering I have had two very supportive social workers. If the chips are down, they are there to support and give you advice. And the training the council provides is very, very good.”
There are many different types of foster carer and anyone interested in fostering can find out more at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/fostering
Information evenings are held on the first Thursday of each month, except January, and give potential carers the chance to find out more and speak to current foster carers about the challenges and positives of fostering. The events run from 5pm until 8pm and are held at St Mary’s House in Eastbourne.
Alternatively, contact the fostering team on 01323 464129 or text FOSTER to 80806.