A Northampton teenager is to become the new public voice for a new fostering campaign across the county.
Stephen, aged 18, has lived with his foster family for six years and will be speaking on Heart radio and Connect FM this summer on behalf of Northamptonshire County Council to urge residents to consider taking a child or young person into their home.
The council takes care of over 800 children and its new Room For Me? campaign aims to highlight the benefits of the scheme and explain why being able to provide a spare bedroom is such an important factor
Stephen said: “There was a lot of instability in my life before I came into care. Being is a foster placement meant that things were more stable, there were no sudden unwelcome surprises and there were no big dramatics.
“When I moved in, my bedroom was my safe place. I filled it with things that have happy associations and memories and it became my quiet place where I could chill out or listen to my music. It helped me to feel safe and welcome.”
He also attributes his academic success, along with his own determination, to his fostering placement. In the last few years his school attendance has soared from 29 per cent to 95 per cent and he achieved 10 GCSEs before going on to study engineering. He is now looking to move into his own place and helps to train prospective foster carers by helpng them to understand the scheme from the child’s perspective.
He said: “I didn’t need a parent, I already had parents; I needed a role model. My foster carers had a lot of patience, they helped me to make sure my voice was heard and they looked out for me.”
The county council have also announced a full programme of summer events to promote fostering across the county, giving people the chance to talk to experienced professionals about how they can get involved.
ouncil deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services, Heather Smith, said: “By hosting these events, the fostering team are taking fostering out to local residents, rather than waiting for people to contact them, which people can often feel nervous about doing.
“From this we hope to generate quality enquiries from people who have a spare room in their home to give a child their own space and privacy, and also room in their lives to give the love, support and guidance that children need when they are in foster placements.
“I would urge people from all backgrounds and with different life experiences who want to make a difference to a child to come along to one of the events and find out more.”
The summer fostering events are taking place on:
* Friday 25th July & Saturday 26th July – Festival of Dance event at Corby Cube, Parkland Gateway, Corby, Northants NN17 1QG
* Saturday 26th July – Wellingborough African Caribbean Association Family Fun Day at Rock Street, Wellingborough NN8 4LW
* Saturday 9th August – Corby Town Centre, Corporation Street, Corby NN17 1NL
* Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th August – The Umbrella Fair at The Racecourse, Kettering Road, Northampton NN1 4LG
There are different types of fostering including, emergency, short-term and permanence. Foster carers are paid an allowance and a further payment which increases as their skills increase. There is always support and training avilable along the way.
For more information, members of the public can call the fostering recruitment line on 0300 126 1009 or visit: www.fosterme.co.uk