'They’d never been to the park': plea for more foster carers
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An appeal has been issued to find more people who can become foster carers for Norfolk's most vulnerable children.
Norfolk County Council is particularly keen to find people who will foster sibling groups, as Foster Care Fortnight, which has the theme of 'Why We Care' begins.
With the county council responsible for 1,100 looked after children and 350 foster caring households, the campaign is asking people to think about a career in foster care, especially if they are reassessing their lives and priorities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
And people in the county who have fostered youngsters have shared their reasons for welcoming vulnerable children and young people into their lives.
For confidentiality reasons, their real names have not been used.
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One foster carer is Amy, registered to become a foster carer the September before lockdown hit.
She said: "You can never truly know what a child’s experience has been.
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"When we met the child they’d never been to the park or even eaten an ice cream and they wouldn’t let us pick them up.
"Now they’re jumping on the trampoline and rolling around with our dog and does everything that they wouldn’t have thought of doing when they moved in in July.”
Lynn, 57, has been a foster carer in Norfolk for almost a decade.
Her own youngest daughter has severe disabilities, but she said: "I think our placements understand my daughter’s disability and that we’re not your stereotypical family.
"When children see my daughter fitting in, they realise they can too."
She said fostering can be hard, but "the reward is phenomenal" and the training given has been "invaluable".
Phil Watson, director of children’s social care at Norfolk County Council said: “I cannot thank our incredible foster carers enough for their dedication to Norfolk’s children.
"Thanks to them, many children have been able to grow as part of a safe and secure family.
“I would urge anyone who thinks they may have space in their hearts and their homes to find out more and consider a role as a foster carer.”
To find out more about becoming a foster carer, visit the Norfolk County Council website.