Emma Newey has been the recruitment and engagement officer for the fostering team at Bury Council for eight years. In this blog Emma writes about their ambassador scheme and how it benefits the service, foster carers and children in foster care.
During my time in the team I have seen the increasing demand on fostering services and the importance of recruiting good quality households to provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment for children.
Over the years, we have continually evaluated our practice to find better ways of working. The ambassador scheme has been an excellent success and has really supported our recruitment strategy in increasing the number of fostering households for Bury Council. I feel privileged to work in such a supportive and rewarding role where everyone works hard to improve the chances and opportunities for children in foster care.
The ambassador scheme was launched in February 2019 and was integral to help increase the number of fostering households in Bury. The rationale for introducing the scheme was to allow us to have a highly visible, robust, consistent and personable presence as well as being able to offer progression and personal development opportunities to our foster carers. The scheme took around four months to plan, set up and launch.
As a service, we were clear on the demands of the role and the expectation needed by those wishing to become an ambassador for Bury. We had a good response from our carers to the proposed scheme which resulted in seven foster carers becoming ambassadors. The launch was held in the Mayor’s parlour in February 2019 and gave the service an excellent opportunity for media coverage across the borough.
A positive impact
In 2019 we increased our enquiries by half and the number of fostering households also increased. More than half of these newly approved households came as a direct result of our ambassador scheme. The ambassadors have made excellent links within the community, including those with schools, faith groups, councillors, support groups and community event organisers. The feedback from prospective carers has been very positive, with them telling us they really value being able to speak to an experienced foster carer in an informal setting, to ask questions and discuss fostering in more detail before making an enquiry. Ambassadors have supported foster carers from their initial enquiry, through the assessment process and once they were newly approved. This has been an added benefit for the new carers in building good relationships with the ambassadors and having another experienced foster carer to support them in the early months of their fostering career.
We are proud of our ambassador scheme and the success we have achieved. Our learning has been shared with colleagues in neighbouring regions at various best practice events to offer our knowledge and outline the positives of having such a scheme within a fostering service.
The ambassadors are financially rewarded for their work but they all go above and beyond to raise the profile of fostering within our community. We are very proud of everything they have achieved. They are all a true asset to Bury!
Find out more about fostering.