Flying High For Fostering In The Highlands

Fostering in the Highlands was flying high today with the premiere of a new DVD encouraging more carers to come forward.

The new promotional film includes interviews with carers, social work staff and young people in care and also features 60 primary children from Strathpeffer and Nairn enjoying playing with brightly coloured kites on Nairn beach.  It will be used to help people understand more about fostering and to provide information to prospective carers as well as social work, education and health staff.

Some of the young kite fliers who appear in the film came along to the first public showing of the film and were joined by social work staff, young people and foster carers who also feature in the promotional DVD.

After watching the film, Chairman of the Housing and Social Work Committee, Councillor Margaret Davidson congratulated everyone involved.  She said:  “The symbolism of kites flying in the sky seems perfect for our fostering campaign as it shows joy and support from a secure base.  We want to encourage more carers to come forward as they can really make a difference in helping children and young people during difficult, insecure and sometimes bewildering times.  With the right support and skills and lots of hard work they can provide stability and a welcoming home.  This can really have a huge positive impact on a young persons life when some extra support is most needed.”

Currently in the Highlands there 100 foster carers aged between 21 and 65 who look after 130 children and young people. 

One of these carers is Janet Bray who has been fostering for four and a half years after seeing an advert in her local paper.  She said:  “We decided to start fostering after my daughters spotted an advert in the paper for a family for a young girl needing a home. Of course it’s not as easy as picking up the phone and taking a child into your home, but when the training is over and you finally get to provide a temporary home for a child in need the satisfaction you feel is worth the wait. Life as a foster carer is not plain sailing but as a family we have had so much fun looking after the children in our care it makes the upsets seem insignificant in relation to the pleasure we get in being able to help a child in need.”

Trish Munro another foster carer said:  “Several years ago I was watching the news and there was a report about a young girl that had died because of abuse.  It was very sad and it made me think that I had quite a comfortable life and by just feeling sad we wouldn’t actually help other children.

“It was then that we decided to find out about becoming foster carers and perhaps be able to help children and families that were struggling with life.  The whole process took several months to complete and at times was quite intrusive but we had to focus on the fact that to look after other peoples children a thorough assessment had to be done.  Since being approved as foster carers we have looked after many different children with very individual needs.  We foster as a family, as without the support of each other it would be very difficult and not fair on my family or the family we care for.

“There is also a huge amount of support from Social Work and all the other agencies involved.  People will say to us that they think it is a great thing to do, but they couldn’t do it.  If we all had that attitude what would happen to these children?.  Yes it is hard at times, but it is also very hard for the children to come to terms with the fact that they have been taken away from their family, normally through no fault of their own.  As time goes on and they settle down then it is very rewarding to see them progress, become more relaxed and smile again on the inside and outside.” 

Irene Bloomfield, Fostering and Adoption Manager said: “In Highland we need many new foster carers.  We provide the training and support needed and there are lots of different ways to get involved. It’s even possible to foster on a part time basis and short break carers are needed for weekends and holidays.  We are looking for families who will take children and young people in an emergency, support young people to continue their education locally and permanent foster families for sibling groups of three and young people with a disability.”

One couple who offer respite care are Louise and Tom Torrance.  Tom said: “Respite care gives a family that much needed break, the luxury of a nights sleep, time just for themselves and family or just simply breathing space, knowing their child is with people who have gone through an extensive assessment and who they can trust.

For the child it offers a place where they can feel at home and be themselves, with new experiences, new places and the chance to meet different people. Their contact with their respite family extends to the carers family, friends and neighbours bringing many mutual benefits.

“Over the years we have met so many wonderful people and the children have given me and my family some wonderful times. My own children were brought up with some children coming to us over a number of months and some are still with us now, getting to know my grandchildren. I still have the same enjoyment and enthusiasm for what I do seventeen years on. There can also be difficult times when trying to manage behaviours or when things are not going so well in their own lives. This is why anybody considering becoming a carer has to be aware of the realities of the role. You see first hand the difficulties each family face and you also gain insight into the world as the child sees it and the stresses that can bring for them.  However that same insight can also bring a fresh view to every situation and the fun and laughter are never far away.”

The eye catching red kites are now appearing on leaflets, TV adverts, supermarket till receipts and posters as part of the Highland campaign.   Anyone wishing to find more about fostering can telephone or email for an information pack  - 01463 703 431




27 May 2009