Doug Lawson is a children's services consultant, trainer and researcher who works with a wide range of fostering services and related organisations to improve the quality of services for looked after children.
“In 2010-11 I helped the Department for Education to review the statutory framework for services for looked after children in England, and researched and drafted the statutory guidance on Fostering Services and on Family and Friends Care. Previously I led the work of the Looked After Children Taskforce to support local authorities across England to improve the delivery of fostering services and commissioning of placements for looked after children.
“Prior to my current career I worked for 36 years as a social worker, adviser and manager in local authorities and for much of this time was responsible for fostering services. Although I don’t foster these days I did, briefly, in the early 1980s.”x
Former model and TV cook, Lorraine Pascale, doesn’t foster but spent time in foster care during her childhood.
"I am supporting the Fostering Network's Foster Care Fortnight because I want people to know that great foster carers helped me when I needed someone to be there for me the most.
"Growing up in and around the care system isn't easy, but using your skills and experience to provide a loving home for a child can make all the difference to what their future becomes.
"So if you think you can be there for some of the UK's most vulnerable children then go on, I urge you, consider becoming a foster carer."x
Richard combines working as an educational psychologist with being a foster carer.
"After working as a teacher, I trained as an educational psychologist. Fostering came to mind after working with some amazing foster carers and school staff who supported looked after children. But I had a large mortgage and I didn’t know if there were any gay foster carers. I was anxious about how I would be perceived as a gay man.
"I took the plunge and applied to foster. I attended training, safety-proofed the house, went through assessment and was approved and so I went part-time to cope with domestic commitments and I’ve been fostering ever since."x
Following a career in the family courts, Roger fosters with his wife Caroline.
"When I met Caroline she had just started fostering and had two boys aged eight and nine. I was 56 and widowed with adult children. I got on so well with Caroline’s boys and all of a sudden I recaptured what had happened with my own children’s childhood. These lads had very different difficulties but there was a buzz. When I married Caroline I was also marrying into fostering.
"We have had 16 children in all and the most recent, Leon, has just left for a job as a chef with good pay and accommodation. He came on in leaps and bounds. It has been a learning curve helping children develop, finding out what they could do and looking for ways around their difficulties. I had worked all my life in family courts and I knew about care orders and residence orders, for instance. But none of this prepares you for the reality of fostering, including the pleasure and joy."x
Josephine was awarded Foster Carer of the Year in Northern Ireland in 2013.
"My sister was fostering but I never gave it a thought and I never read any adverts. All the children were going through university and I had health problems so I was really busy.Then Sean, my husband, and I agreed to provide respite care for two children my sister was looking after. But this didn’t happen and we were left wondering how they would have fitted in. We thought ‘what if?’
"As a result we applied to be foster carers. Approval and training was a pretty logical process and just a few months later we had our first placement.If I am asked about fostering I always say it is the most fantastic, rewarding thing you can do. It is a privilege to make a difference to a child’s life."x
Erina doesn’t foster but grew up in foster care.
"I am head of youth engagement at the Drive Forward Foundation which is a charity that supports care leavers into employment. I also sit on the fostering panel for two local authorities, helping to recommend whether applicants are approved as foster carers.
"I am also a care leaver, and grew up in foster families. I went into care at the age of four after being brought over to this country from Uganda by my uncle. I remained in the care of the local authority my whole childhood, and had a variety of foster placements all over London. I had one main foster carer who I lived with at the beginning for five years and then again when I was 14 for a further four years. I refer to this particular foster carer as my adoptive mum as she was the most consistent person through my whole life and has been there since the beginning.
"I think one of the big problems for looked after children is the lack of consistency and that shows up everywhere from birth parents, to different foster homes, different adult professionals, to school moves. The more consistency there is in fostering the better the experience will be for the young person and in turn a better experience for the carers. That’s why we need more people to come forward and foster, to offer a child a stable home and make a real difference their life like my foster carer did in mine."x
Krish is director of the Evangelical Alliance. He fosters with his wife Miriam.
"My wife and I have been fostering for the past eight years and have found it one of the most difficult yet rewarding things we do as a family. It’s heart-breaking to hear the tragic circumstances many of the children who have come into our care have come from, but it is an incredible privilege to play some part in helping these children.
"Our experience has been mainly with babies and primary school children. We are emergency and short-term carers but that has meant we have looked after children from a 24-hour period all the way up to three and half years. It is very difficult to say goodbye to the children we care for and have come to love as part of our family. But there is a lot of comfort knowing that we have made a positive difference to their lives. We are also very honoured to still hear from most of the children that we have fostered.
"There is sacrifice and there is satisfaction in foster care, but we do it not because of the way it makes us feel. We foster because there are so many children in care across the UK who have all experienced trauma of some kind, and need a home, and love and help. The numbers are overwhelming but, one child at a time, together we can make a difference."x
Robert has fostered with his wife Christine for around 19 years.
“At age 17 after spending three years training to become a Plumber and pipe fitter, I had the notion to travel to see the world, and I also wanted to learn to drive so I decided to join the Forces and spent the next 20 years serving in the Royal Corps. of Signals. I managed to travel to places like Germany, Cyprus, N. Ireland, Sardinia, and a short time in England.
“On leaving the Army, Christine and I moved back to near our parents in Grangemouth where we quickly settled into employment, Christine as a shop assistant and myself as a handyman at a local centre for people with learning difficulties.
“We’ve been fostering around nineteen years, and in that time we’ve fostered over 75 children. Some of the children who’ve been through our door have sadly often been neglected and haven’t been brought up in a way that I feel is a loving and secure environment. I do it to make children feel safe. We foster as a family, we do it together.
“If you’ve got the time, patience, confidence and good listening skills, I’d encourage you to find out if you can foster too.”x
Edward Timpson is Minister for Children and Families in England. He grew up with over 80 fostered brothers and sisters.
"I wholeheartedly support Foster Care Fortnight. I know from personal experience what difference good quality foster care can make to the lives of our society's most vulnerable children, and that there are few things more rewarding than watching them progress and succeed.
"I hope that those who haven't considered fostering before, or those who have been thinking about offering a child a stable, loving home, will take this opportunity to put themselves forward, safe in the knowledge that it is not their age, sexuality, faith or gender that counts but the quality of their parenting."x
Gabby Logan is a sports presenter. She doesn’t foster but she supports Foster Care Fortnight.
"I am always proud to support the Fostering Network's Foster Care Fortnight campaign. Foster carers are incredible people who dedicate their lives to vulnerable children, but throughout the country there are still many teenagers, disabled children and sibling groups who need a loving home.
"If you think you have the skills to make a difference to the life of a child and help to ensure that they are on a positive path in life, contact your local fostering service this Foster Care Fortnight."x
Aileen Campbell MSP is the Scottish Government Minister for Children and Young People.
"I am grateful to those people who, already open up their homes and commit themselves to provide care and support for some of our most vulnerable children.
"I fully support this year's Foster Care Fortnight Campaign - which aims to encourage even more people, from a wide and varied range of backgrounds, to consider whether they too could provide a safe, supportive and secure family life and give a brighter future for those children, by applying to become a foster carer."x
Star of stage and screen, Gareth Gates doesn’t foster but his parents do.
"Fostering has always been a part of my life. My parents have fostered over 50 children since I was a small boy. I have three sisters, but have had many many more foster brothers and sisters.
"My parents provided love and stability to many less fortunate children and brought them into our family. It may not have always been easy but is something I would never change.
"It's a huge decision and of course it isn't for everyone but it's incredibly rewarding. I know that it's not only changed the lives of the kids who've spent some time in our family over the years but also mine and my sisters."x
A qualified nurse and midwife, Lorraine is a foster carer.
"When I stepped down from NHS management I was lucky to be able to reduce my working hours to three days a month. This gave me the ability to keep "my hand in" the NHS and also to give me the majority of time to care for foster children. As a qualified nurse and midwife I have the medical background and contacts within the NHS to know at first hand when and where to turn should a medical emergency arise. I have to keep updated with CPR, paediatric basic life support, child protection, infection control so this is a great help as it runs alongside the training needed in foster care.
"Like any mother who works outside the home there is always the stress about leaving children who may be unwell or unhappy in order to go to work but with the support of the contact worker and supervising social worker there is an added benefit of having others to call on if the need arises."x
After a successful career in the Royal Air Force, Cliff is a foster carer.
"I have been fostering for 14 years with my wife Elaine. Our motivation to become foster carers is that we were both fostered when we were young children and felt that it would be lovely to give something back. After a successful career in the Royal Air Force and settling down in Stafford we enquired with the local authority about becoming foster carers.We have since fostered a number of children, starting with respite but found our expertise lies within the long term fostering area; as this gave us time to work with the child and in one case also with the parent.
"One young lad came to us at the age of 6; he now works as a trainee chef for a top hotel in Yorkshire. This was a long journey with him, many challenges along the way but the reward and satisfaction to see him where he is now outweighs all that. We currently have a 16 year old in placement that has been with us for the last 14 months and is planning on going to university in the next couple of years after his A levels.
"Fostering's turned our lives around a bit but in a nice way, bringing more laughter and cheekiness to the household and of course more new challenges. I'd encourage you to contact your local service to find out more."x
Actor Luke Bailey has starred in Casualty and Waterloo Road. Luke is the son of a foster carer so, although he doesn’t foster, he is part of a fostering family.
“I've seen the hugely positive effects the care system can have on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. I've also seen how devastating life can be for those who are unlucky enough not to have the same life chances as should be required and through absolutely no fault of their own. I think any cause to protect and nurture those who have not the means to do so for themselves, particularly the future of our society, is paramount.”x
Registered care manager, Daisy is a foster carer.
"I worked as a registered care manager but I wanted to stay at home with the kids more so I decided to foster. I had a nice upbringing myself and felt I could make a difference to someone’s life.However I still found time to study to become a social worker and I now do this part-time. I am 47 and I have been fostering for nine years. I live with my partner Clive and my three children aged four, 17 and 22. They have all adapted well to my decision.
"I think it’s good that the children I foster see me working. Foster carers should come from as many different backgrounds as possible."x