Fostering in North Somerset
By Carol_Deacon | Friday, February 01, 2013, 13:53
An initiative to encourage people to find out more about fostering over a cup of coffee in Weston was a great success.
A foster care roadshow in North Somerset
A pop-up shop in Weston-super-Mare's Sovereign Centre was home all last week to North Somerset Council fostering team and foster carers who were inviting people to come and find out more about fostering over a hot drink.
They transformed the vacant shop into a lounge with the idea that people would feel more comfortable asking about fostering in somewhere that feels like home.
North Somerset Council service leader for fostering Jenny Slee said: "This was a great opportunity to meet some of our fantastic carers and to find out more about fostering without any pressure.
"Despite the poor weather we had more than 100 people asking for information packs.
"Although this was fantastic, nationally only one in 10 carers goes through from enquiry to approved foster carers.
"We are desperately short of foster carers, especially for teenagers and this was an innovative way of speaking to people in a relaxed atmosphere.
"The information evening we held at Mendip Green Primary School earlier this week for people who are interested in taking the next step after speaking to one of our team was also well attended.
"We gave a more detailed presentation on what fostering is and how people can make a difference."
Bez Clarke, who has been a foster carer for eight years, said: "In the pop-up we tried to make everyone as comfortable as possible by providing hot drinks and biscuits for those who did stop by.
"Perhaps more people would have dropped by if it weren't for the snow and rain.
"We want to show that we're just everyday people who open our homes to young people who have had difficult starts.
"You don't need qualifications, a special home or experience with children, just a spare room and the desire to help young people."
At the moment North Somerset Council has around 90 foster families; the number of children entering care has continued to rise steeply, and there are now more than 270 children looked-after in North Somerset.
Anyone who was hoping to stop by the pop-up for information but didn't get chance or has ever thought about fostering is invited to contact North Somerset Council fostering team on 01275 888999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Provided you genuinely care about young people and you have time to spare in your day, fostering can provide a welcome additional income for many individuals or families, especially now when many people are looking for extra income.