Sefton teams up with Knowsley for National Celebration of Fostering

Sefton and Knowsley Council are teaming up as part of an annual celebration of fostering, raising awareness to attract more would be foster carers.

Organised by national charity The Fostering Network, Foster Care Fortnight takes place May 14th – 27th, with this year’s theme of ‘fostering transforms lives’.

Under the banner of #StayTogether, Sefton and Knowsley will be taking the ‘Fostering bus’ on the road to meet the public and give them all of the information they need to consider fostering, especially for sibling groups where there is the greatest need.

The ‘Fostering bus’ reaches Sefton on May 18th, 9am-6pm at Aintree Shopping Park.

Cllr. John Joseph Kelly, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Safeguarding said:

“Fostering really can change a child’s life. Foster carers offer supportive, caring and firm foundations to our vulnerable children and young; it is a hugely rewarding role. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about fostering to jump aboard the fostering bus and find out more”

Sefton Council’s fostering teams will also deliver the latest instalment of their popular information evenings shortly after Foster Care Fortnight. The next session, which are free, non-ticket events, will take place June 5th, 6.30-8.30pm at The Vincent Hotel in Southport.

To find out more about fostering in Sefton, visit www.seftonfostering.co.uk or call 0800 923 2777.

Sefton and Knowsley unite to help siblings #StayTogether in foster families

#StayTogether will be the message as fostering services at Sefton and Knowsley Councils come together for a special recruitment drive.

In Sefton and Knowsley there are over 750 ‘looked after’ children in need of foster placements, many of them in sibling groups.

Two events will be held, allowing anyone thinking of fostering to meet experienced carers who already foster families of brothers and sisters, while also learning about the approval process, support and learning with expert teams from both local authorities.

The first event will take place at Aintree Shopping Park, Saturday January 27, 10am – 4pm, while the second event will take place at Cables Shopping Centre in Prescot, Sunday January 28, 10am- 4pm.

Cllr. John Joseph Kelly, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Families at Sefton Council, said:

“It is great to be working together with Knowsley in this innovative way. Now more than ever there is an urgent need for carers for siblings, highlighting this is so important.

“The media bus is both unique and eye catching and gives us the flexibility to get out and about into the heart of our communities. Allowing us to create a clear call to action, it encourages people from all walks of life to consider how they could make a real difference to children’s lives.”

Cllr Marie Stuart, Knowsley Council Cabinet Lead Member – Children’s Services said

“We are delighted to be working with Sefton Council on this unique Fostering Information Event.

“It’s important that we work together to encourage more families to come forward and find out more about becoming Foster Carers with their local authority. We are always looking for new Foster Carers with our greatest need being for Foster Carers who could provide a safe and loving home for sibling groups, older children, and children with additional needs.

“We understand it’s a really big decision for people to make, but we offer excellent support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and offer financial allowances in recognition of the valuable role Foster Carers have in providing loving homes for the children in our care. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about becoming a Foster Carer to come along and have a chat with our friendly teams without feeling obligated or pressured in any way.”

For more information about fostering with Sefton, visit the Sefton Fostering website or contact the team on 0800 923 2777.

Sefton residents told You Can Foster during national campaign

Sefton Council’s fostering service will mark a national campaign by joining local authorities across the North West to tell local residents ‘you can foster’.

Led by national fostering charity, The Fostering Network, foster care fortnight takes place between 8-21 May and this year’s theme is ‘foster care transforms lives’.

As part of the You Can Foster campaign, run by a collaboration of 22 local authorities across the North West, Sefton Council will be hosting a special fostering evening for prospective foster carers inspired by the campaign.

The drop-in session takes place at 6.30 pm on 16 May at The Vincent Hotel in Southport and free refreshments will be available. It is an ideal opportunity for would-be foster carers to listen to the Council’s fostering experts and ask any questions in a friendly, informal setting. There will also be experienced foster carers on-hand to give attendees a real insight on life of a foster carer.

Foster carers, Nicky and Tom Hetherington, who live in Southport will be attending the information evening. They specialise in short-term foster care, looking after children from anywhere between a few weeks to 16 months.

Talking about the event, Nicky, said:

“This year’s theme for foster care fortnight is perfect – I’m so proud to say I have transformed children’s lives.

“Fostering has transformed my life too. Had you told me six years ago when I left my business to take care of my daughter, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, that I would have changed career and be sitting here having fostered six children, I would not have believed you.

“Watching a child change, often dramatically, is a wonderful feeling. It can take time for them to trust you and settle, but the warmth you get when they come out the other end is such a lovely feeling.”

Tom added:

“As carers we have had strong support from family, friends and the new friends we have made in Sefton’s foster carer community – it has made such a difference.

“Our family and children have become much closer, embracing the challenge fostering brings. It has been so satisfying to see the caring and selfless people that our own children have become through sharing their home with foster children.

“Fostering is a decision to make with your loved ones, but it genuinely does transform lives and you won’t look back.”

Maria Spatuzzi, team manager at Sefton Council’s fostering service said:

“It is great to be teaming up with other local authorities to raise the profile of fostering and reach a wider audience. The ‘you can foster’ message will be appearing on TV, radio and social media, so there will be lots of opportunity for people to start thinking about fostering.

“In Sefton, we need 25 new foster carers to give children and young people the stable, loving home they need to flourish. In particular, we need carers for sibling groups, older children and teens, and those with complex needs.

“Fostering children is a big decision and takes a lot of consideration. Our fostering evenings are informative and can provide people with the reassurance they need to take that first step, by talking to our team and carers face-to-face.”

If you would like to make an enquiry or simply find out more about fostering in Sefton, the service has developed a brand new website to help you. You can also find out more about the fostering evening by clicking on news and events.

For further details contact Sefton Council’s fostering service on Freephone 0800 923 2777 or by email

Sefton residents to write a new chapter by fostering children this Spring

Sefton Council’s Fostering and Adoption Service is asking local residents to think of fostering this spring and make a huge difference to local children.

Using the campaign strapline ‘Make their next chapter a happy one’ the local authority has launched a new fostering recruitment website to make the enquiry process easier and to tackle myths about fostering that can discourage potential foster carers.

In Sefton there are approximately 400 children who are looked after, with a broad mix of carers providing them with loving, stable family lives, but there is still a need for more carers from a wide range of backgrounds to join the service.

Recruiting new foster carers will mean that the local authority can better support hard to place children, such as older children, teenagers and sibling groups.

Cllr John Joseph Kelly, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Safeguarding, said: “I want anyone who thinks that they cannot foster children to think again and make an enquiry that will profoundly change both their life and that of local children for the better.

“People often think that they will not be approved if they apply to become foster carers. It does not matter if you are married, single, LGBT, straight, older or rent your home, what does matter is that you have room in your home and the time, compassion and energy to dedicate to children who need those qualities more than most.

“Please don’t hesitate to come forward.”

Maria Spatuzzi, Team Manager at Sefton’s Fostering Service, said: “Our team here at Sefton has a saying along the lines that no-one goes it alone when fostering with us. We help you every step of the way, from your first enquiry through to approving you as a foster carer and beyond.

“You will receive round the clock support from a dedicated social worker, excellent training and a competitive financial package. As a local authority fostering agency, we are the best equipped to make sure that once approved, you will not have to wait for placements and build your career as a foster carer.

“Whether you’ve only just begun thinking of fostering or have considered it for many years, our friendly experts will be happy to talk to you and answer any burning questions you have.”

If you would like to make an enquiry or simply find out more about fostering in Sefton, visit the Sefton Fostering Service website www.seftonfostering.co.uk

You can also contact the service on 0800 923 2777 or by email: Fostering.Adoption@sefton.gov.uk

Southport foster carers launch campaign to boost fostering numbers in Sefton

A FOSTER family from Southport are lamenting a critical shortage of foster carers in the North West after it was revealed over there are 5,250 children in need of homes.

Louise and Mark Fisher are now  campaigning to reduce the severe shortage of foster carers in the region.

The couple have been carers with independent foster care agency Fostering Solutions since 2014, and currently have a young mother and her baby in their care.

They want to share their story to encourage more people in the local area to consider becoming foster carers.

Louise, 44, has a background in teaching in the Liverpool area, and Mark’s mum used to be a foster carer when he was younger. This gave Louise and Mark, 49,  an insight into the difference they could make to young lives.

Louise said; “I used to teach underprivileged girls at a school in Liverpool. As the final school bell went I would often wonder about the challenges the girls might face at home.

“I decided I wanted to help and fostering just seemed the right thing for us to do.

“I knew being a mum myself I could pass on my parenting skills to support someone to become a good parent, and so we decided to provide care for young parents and their babies. Parent and child fostering is completely different to any other type of foster care as you are there to teach a parent how to care for their own baby.

“The young mum we have with us at the moment was just 16 when she had her baby. She is just a child herself and wasn’t used to staying in, putting the baby first, or saving money to buy a microwave instead of spending it on herself. These are all things she’s had to learn to do.

“She’s such a lovely mummy and her true motherly instinct is really shining through. The run up to Christmas was extra special; we went out shopping and bought presents for my children and her baby.

“She was so excited, not just for herself but for her baby’s first Christmas too. One night we had to visit the on-call doctor as her baby had a virus, and whilst we were sat in the waiting room she turned to me and said ‘Thank you for being here for me, my life would have been so different if you’d fostered me when I was 12’. It is little moments like that when you realise why you foster in the first place. It’s just so rewarding.

“To anyone thinking of fostering, I would say go for it. Every small step forward you take with the young person in your care is so rewarding. It’s in these moments that you just know you’ve done the right thing.”

The North West has a critical shortage of foster carers, with over 5,250 children in local authority care in need of a safe and stable home.

Pam Larsen, Regional Director for Fostering Solutions, said; “We know that 1 child is taken into foster care every 17 minutes in the UK and you can help to make a big difference to a child’s life by becoming a foster carer.

“We know that becoming a foster carer is a big step, so we support our carers both practically and emotionally, whilst they become carers and throughout their fostering lives. Fostering Solutions is there for our carers 24 hours a day, offering foster carer buddies who are experienced carers, therapists and dedicated social workers. We also provide nationally recognised training and qualifications, as part of our learning and development programme – all of which allows our carers to become experts in the field. It’s hugely rewarding.”

If you think you can help to urgently find foster homes for children in the North West please register for Fostering Solutions’ free fostering information event by visiting www.fosteringsolutions.com/liverpool.

Introducing… Almitas Trust CIC

Almitas Trust CIC are a non-profit organisation, working innovatively to provide quality accommodation and support to vulnerable families.

As a novel service provider, they offer a new approach to providing parents and their babies with the support that they need, while they work with professionals to make long term plans for the children. Almitas support parents and professionals to help childrens needs to be met and their primary focus is the best interests of the child. Whilst parent/child foster placements are available, they are not the best fit for every family group that needs support. The individual circumstances, or needs of a parent or their family, can often preclude them from accessing a foster placement. Almitas Trust aims to bridge that gap, by providing true 24/7 professional, individualised support, which may not be provided within the regular family setting of a foster placement.

Almitas Trust work with other local non-profit organisations including the Venus Project, the Whitechapel organisation, Sefton Women and Children’s Aid and the Rotunda, providing clients with access to a wide range of services at minimal cost to overstretched Local Authorities.

Where possible, couples are supported to build a family unit, with access to houses or flats for young parents and their children.

Support can also include:

  • Facilitating contact transport and supervision
  • Childcare & development information and mentoring
  • Development of basic life skills such as time management, cooking, health and hygiene
  • Access to benefits advice
  • Access to counselling services

By working with parents, families and associated professionals, Almitas aim to promote positive parenting in a safe environment for children, and to empower our clients to adjust, learn and grow.

Click here to visit the Almitas Trust CIC website, and find out more about the work that they do.

Making time for fostering in Sefton

Sefton Council is asking local residents to make time for fostering as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of fostering and recruit new carers.

The local authority is hosting one of its regular fostering information sessions to coincide with Foster Care Fortnight 2016, which takes place 16-29 May.

Foster Care Fortnight has taken place annually for nearly 20 years and is organised by national charity, The Fostering Network using the theme ‘A Time to Foster, A Time to Care’. As part of the theme, the charity is asking people to describe their ‘best ever 20 minutes’ to recognise that every 20 minutes another child enters care in the UK.

According to The Fostering Network, nationally 9,070 carers are needed in the next 12 months to provide stable homes for a range of children, with the greatest need being for older children, sibling groups and disabled children. This picture is reflected in Sefton, where Sefton Council’s fostering service wants to recruit 30 new foster carers to address the needs of children in its care.

Sefton Council’s fostering information session takes place at 6.30pm on Wednesday, May 18 at Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre. Here anyone who is thinking of fostering can meet Sefton’s experts, watch presentations, ask questions and meet experienced foster carers to find out what is involved first hand.

Alongside the information session, Sefton’s fostering service is asking carers, care leavers and social workers to share their best twenty minutes in foster care as part of a drive to recruit new carers online, through social media and sharing marketing resources with local partners in health, education and the voluntary sector.

Foster carer, Fran Ryan, said: “Foster Care Fortnight has made me think about my best 20 minutes in fostering, which is incredibly tough, as it has been such a rewarding time for me.

“But I do have a particular memory that has really stuck with me. We were fostering a little boy, he was very troubled. He’d been excluded from mainstream school because of his behavioural issues; he was one of the saddest boys I’d ever met. We took him for a family holiday on a barge boat.

“What a difference we saw, he relaxed right into it. I remember seeing him sitting on the roof saluting people as we moved along, then he would jump off and race the barge along the side of the canal. He seemed so happy and confident; he was like any other child without a care in the world! I was so pleased we could be a part of that.”

If you are considering fostering children in Sefton, contact Sefton Fostering and Adoption Service Freephone 0800 923 2777 or visit www.seftonfostering.co.uk.