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Swansea foster carers talk about the life-changing impact they have made on young lives

Foster carers in Swansea have been speaking about the life-changing impact they have made on young lives at the start of Foster Care Fortnight.

Claire Hyett-Evans

The theme of this year's campaign, which runs from May 13 to 26 is Fostering Changes Futures and carers Nat Windle and Claire Hyett-Evans say that has certainly been their experience.

Nat said: "We had a little girl placed with us who didn't speak or walk. When we moved her on for adoption, she was extremely confident, chatty and constantly singing and dancing. It was so rewarding to see and be a part of the amazing bond that developed through the adoption process between her and her new family."

Many carers say that fostering is one of the best things they have ever done and that helping children achieve the little wins is often what has the biggest impact in their lives, helping to change the course of their futures.

Foster carer, Claire Hyett-Evans (pictured with husband Michael and children Alfie and Rosie), said: "When our first little boy came to stay with us he couldn't communicate any of his needs. We spent a lot of time everyday trying to develop his speech. This took lots of patience and encouragement. The moment he came out the kitchen, pulled on my shirt and said 'juice please' is a moment I will always remember. He had the biggest smile on his face and I was so proud of him. He amazes me every day!"

Every year, Swansea Council shows its support for Foster Care Fortnight by raising the profile of Foster Swansea and the need for more foster carers - especially as there has been an increase in the number of children needing foster placements over the last year.

Foster Swansea are currently looking for people from all backgrounds who have an interest in becoming a foster carer - especially those who can provide placements for babies, sibling groups, teenagers, parent and child, and children with complex needs.

Councillor Will Evans, Cabinet Member for Children's Services (Young people), said: "With a shortage of foster carers in Swansea, we are urging people to think about fostering and how they can make a difference to a young person's life. Fostering is so important - it literally changes futures by giving children and young people stability in loving and caring surroundings. 

"Unfortunately, there are still myths surrounding who can and can't foster. For years, people have had the stereotypical view that only those who are married, heterosexual, have children, own their house, have qualifications or are in employment, can foster. However, this simply isn't true. Foster Swansea welcomes applications from a diverse range of people. The most important qualification is that you are committed to caring."

Councillor Elliott King, Cabinet Member for Children's Services (Early Years), added: "A childhood is too short to waste, and foster carers can help those who haven't had the best start, to begin enjoying their lives. By providing children and young people with stability, security and a nurturing environment, they can go on and achieve their potential and grow into the adults they want to become.

"We have fantastic foster carers who are extremely committed to providing foster children with safe, family environments. However, the reality is that we need more! Many looked after children are part of a sibling group and ideally we don't want to separate them, so it would be great to recruit more foster carers who can keep brothers and sisters together.

"If you think that you have the relevant skills and experience to become a foster carers, then don't hesitate to contact Foster Swansea. You will change lives - something our foster carers are already doing."

Come and meet the fostering team!
Could you change lives by offering a loving home to children and young people? If you have a spare room and are interested in fostering you can find out more at a series of information events that have been organised to support Foster Care Fortnight. Dates and venues can be found below:-

Date

Time

Venue

Monday 13 May

12-4pm

Swansea Quadrant

Monday 20 May

12-4pm

Swansea Quadrant

Wednesday 22 May

12-2pm

Tesco, Fforestfach

Friday 24 May

4-6pm

Tesco, Fforestach

At the various information stands, you'll be able to speak to the fostering team and get more information on what being a foster carer entails. 

Lisa Hartley, Quadrant Shopping Centre manager, said: "We are thrilled to welcome back Foster Swansea to the centre. This is such a worthwhile cause and the social workers work incredibly hard throughout Foster Care Fortnight to promote the good work they do across the city. By positioning themselves at the centre, the team are able to speak to so many of our shoppers who always respond so positively. Every year the information stands create a lot of queries and I'm sure it will be the case again this year."

The Foster Swansea team also organises regular information evenings that provide information on fostering, including a no-obligation chat with the team and foster carers. The next sessions will take place on Wednesday 15 May and Wednesday 22 May, 6-8pm at Swansea Civic Centre.

Foster Swansea is the local authority's fostering service, which aims to provide high quality placements for children and young people.

Foster carers receive a weekly allowance, extensive support and training, and have access to the Foster Swansea team, seven days a week.

The UK's biggest annual fostering campaign, Foster Care Fortnight is the brainchild of     national charity, The Fostering Network.

To find out more about this year's Foster Care Fortnight campaign, please visit www.fosterswansea.org.  For further information about becoming a foster carer, call 0300 555 0111 or 01792 533212.

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