Colors: Cyan Color

Emma Taylor, who became Chief Executive of Sandwell Children’s Trust in April, is backing the Trust’s 2021 Foster Care Fortnight campaign to highlight the need for more foster carers and to encourage people thinking about fostering to find out more by contacting the Trust.

“One of the exciting things about Sandwell Children’s Trust is its family feel and desire to help children who need our support. Whilst ‘family’ can have different meanings to people, it’s important that we have enough safe, secure, loving homes locally for children who are not able to live with their own families and need to be in our care.

“So, I’m delighted to be supporting our contribution to Foster Care Fortnight. It’s great to hear about all the things we are doing to make it possible for people to step forward and foster for Sandwell, which mean more people will be able to consider making fostering in Sandwell an option for them. It also means that more of our children can live within a family environment without needing to be moved outside of Sandwell.”

Sandwell Children’s Trust is playing a leading role in the Fostering Network’s national Foster Care Fortnight campaign (May 10-23), which this year has the theme #WhyWeCare. Throughout the two-week campaign Sandwell Children’s Trust is publishing short films from its staff and foster carers on the Sandwell Children’s Trust Facebook page, as we celebrate the work of the Trust, keeping children in Sandwell safe.

“I have been really impressed by the work of Trust and how focused it’s been on delivering a high-quality fostering service to both our carers and of course our children. We already have amazing and caring people fostering for Sandwell and during Foster Care Fortnight I would encourage everyone to spread the word, however you can. Even if fostering is not for you, you can still help – tell your friends, share post, tweet your support.

It really makes a difference and the more carers that join us, the more we can help our children live and achieve their ambitions in Sandwell.”

For most, Mothering Sunday is a simple annual event to celebrate Mum.

It’s a day that has special resonance for adoptive Mums and their children.

Around three-quarters of children who are adopted today will previously have suffered abuse or neglect with their birth family so parenting them can be tough but also hugely rewarding and inspiring.

The bond between adoptive parents and their children is often extraordinary, with love and admiration on both sides.

But Mother’s Day is a celebration which can prove complicated as adopted children have complex feelings about their birth parents.

Adoption UK wants to celebrate adoptive Mums across the UK by shining a light on their commitment, love and resilience - and who better to provide this testimony than adoptees themselves?

In a letter to her adoptive mother Jane, university worker Polly, who lives in London but grew up in Yorkshire and Lancashire, writes: As an adopted daughter I came to you with a warning label – I was not thriving. I was expected to have educational and emotional difficulties. Before you were even able to hold your baby in your arms, you had been told that your baby was broken.

This didn’t matter to you. From that first moment that you looked into my eyes we finally had what we both needed: a family. You devoted every second of your life from that day to fixing what you had been told by professionals might be unfixable. Against every expectation I didn’t just begin to thrive, I began to achieve.

Polly’s letter continues: I could not be even a fraction of the person I am today without your love, dedication and incredible belief in me. All the best parts of me, of my character and my personality, are down to you and and the great example you have always set for me.

Her letter concludes: Thirty-seven years on, that baby who was not thriving has a Master’s degree, a job in a university, a wonderful husband; she has travelled to five continents, sung in the Royal Albert Hall and even dabbled in stand-up comedy.

19-year-old Megan Alston, from London, writes to her mother Regina: You’re my Mum you lie with me until I fall back to sleep after I’ve had a nightmare. There are no secrets between us. No problem I’m afraid to share.

You might have missed my first word and you didn’t get to see me take my first steps, but those aren’t the things that make you my mother. It’s the way you call me when I’m home late, make soup for me when I’m poorly. One day I hope I can adopt too and give my children the wonderful life you’ve given me.

Daniel Coole,from Cheshire, writes to his adoptive mother Jan: Mother’s Day is a stark reminder for some of us. But then, you remember that something incredible happened when you were at the most vulnerable stage of your life. In walked somebody who cares for you, who protects you and who nurtures you, and the best part of it all? It was all by choice.

A mum is the person we reach out for when we fall over. It’s the face we search for in the crowd during the school plays. It’s the taxi driver who just wants to make sure we get to our destination safely. It is the person who knows us better than we know ourselves. 

Daniel goes on to write: Thank you for giving up a part of your world to ensure that I could have the best shot at this thing called life. Thank you for showing me the way every time I get lost on this journey. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for being so brave and selfless to ensure that I was happy and safe. Thank you for allowing me to grow into my own person whilst cheering my triumphs from the side-lines.

The letter ends: I am sorry for the times I told you that you could never be my mum. It was never about you or your parenting skills. It was about me being confused and frustrated. You always have been, and you always will be, my mum.

In a letter to her mother Jane, the West End performer Shona White, who lives in London but grew up in Fife, Scotland, writes: …what you (and Dad of course) did for me all those years ago was the best thing that ever happened to me.

You have supported me in all my hopes and dreams and helped me achieve success in my chosen career and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Thank you for putting up with me through the more challenging times and for all the happy memories we have created together.

Olympic silver medallist and former World Champion Jamie Baulch, from South Wales, writes to his mother Marilyn: Words can’t describe how amazing you are. You have helped me throughout the whole of my life. You have given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I weren’t with you. You have guided me throughout my whole life. My athletics career would never have happened if it wasn’t for your support, love, guidance and attention. I owe you everything and I love you with all my heart.

And BMX champion and Hollywood actor John Buultjens who grew up in Glasgow and Dundee but now lives in California, writes to his mother Marianna: To say you have been such an inspiration in my life, is an understatement, you are so much more. I am very thankful that you choose me to be your son, back in 1982.

Around three-quarters of children who are adopted in the UK today will have entered the care system because of the severe neglect and/or abuse they experienced with their birth parents.

Adoption gives these children, many of whom have complex needs, a second chance of experiencing enduring family relationships.

Adoptive parents provide stability, permanence, a new sense of identity and the love and nurture that all children need - as these letters eloquently demonstrate.

Adoption UK's purpose is to give voice to adoptive families and to ensure that the right support is there for them.

Anyone experiencing difficulties is urged to become a member of Adoption UK and contact our helpline: https://www.adoptionuk.org/one-one-support/helpline

Throughout this year’s Foster Care Fortnight, which began on Monday 10 May, people who want to find out more about fostering for Wolverhampton are being invited to get in touch or take part in online information events.

Last year, the City of Wolverhampton Council saw an increase in people interested in fostering during the coronavirus pandemic. More people than ever contacted the Fostering for Wolverhampton team to find out how they could help change a child’s life and what the application process involves.

This month’s online information events will be on Thursday (13 May) at 1pm, Saturday (15 May) at 1.30pm and Thursday 20 May at 6.30pm. Each event, lasting no more than an hour, will offer an opportunity to find out more about this rewarding career, including the support and financial benefits on offer. It is also an opportunity to speak directly to existing foster carers and find out first-hand what it is like to be a foster carer.

For more information, please visit www.fosteringforwolverhampton.com/events. Meetings will be held via Microsoft Teams.

The theme for this year’s Foster Care Fortnight is #WhyWeCare and it is an opportunity to recognise how foster families are helping to give hundreds of children in Wolverhampton the best possible start in life by offering them a supportive environment in a loving home.

But more foster carers are urgently needed as there are still dozens of children waiting for a home, and the Fostering for Wolverhampton team is keen to hear from individuals and couples who want to make a difference to a local child. 

Foster carers can be single, married or in a relationship – and they won't be on their own as help and support is available 24 hours a day. They will receive ‘buddy support’ from experienced foster carers who are there to help and guide them and carers receive a regular, tax exempt fee and allowance to cover the cost of bringing up the child. The allowance starts from £383 to £440 per week depending on the child’s age. 

Emma Bennett, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Director of Children’s and Adult Services said: “We all want to see children and young people get the best possible start in life, so that they can realise their dreams and fulfil their potential. That’s exactly what being a foster carer for Wolverhampton is all about.

“With currently well over 200 fantastic fostering households, we are very lucky to have so many dedicated foster carers here in our city, but we have more youngsters who are looking for a permanent foster home.


“Fostering can truly be a life-changing experience, both for foster carers and the young person they care for. We'd love to hear from people who have both a spare room and of course love in their heart to give the most vulnerable children and young people in our city a family home.”

A cross-party group of MPs and Peers will push for change to ensure adoptive children and families receive the support they need. The new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Adoption & Permanence will be chaired by Rachael Maskell MP.

Approximately three-quarters of adopted children are removed from their birth parents because of abuse and neglect. As a result of their early experiences, they are much more likely than their peers to struggle with education, relationships and employment.

Ms Maskell said: “This new APPG is a very important opportunity to advocate for some of the most vulnerable children in society and I am delighted to be leading it. Adopted children have had a very tough start in life and they deserve the attention of policy makers to ensure they are able to build a better future.”

As Chair of the APPG Ms Maskell went on to say: “I want to ensure that families receive the very support they need pre and post adoption, and will ensure that the APPG brings a laser focus to the challenges facing parents and children. Government has a crucial role in adopting global best practice and resourcing essential services to build strong, loving and resilient families, and the APPG on Adoption and Permanence will provide an important vehicle to take the voice of adopters, kinship carers and young people into Government.”

The APPG has determined a number of priorities for the group’s initial activities, one of which is the future of the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) – a central government fund which helps adoptive families to access therapy. Although the fund recently received an £12m boost, the government is currently only committed to it until March 2020. Research from 2017 revealed that a quarter of adoptive parents believe support funded by the ASF prevented their placement from breaking down and their children returning to care.

Charities Adoption UK and Home for Good will provide the secretariat support for the group, and are well-placed to engage adoptive families directly in the work of the APPG.

Adoption UK’s chief executive, Dr Sue Armstrong Brown said: “This APPG is sorely needed to serve our society’s most vulnerable children, ensuring their experiences inform political debate and policy development. Adoption is a long rehabilitation from trauma, lasting throughout childhood and beyond. We need a system which recognises this and delivers help for families whenever and for as long as they need it.”

Home for Good chief executive, Phil Green added: “Adopted children and their families deserve our very best. Home for Good is delighted to be supporting this APPG because we recognise that if we have grand ambitions for the lives of children, we need to have grand ambitions for services that exist to serve them.”

 

A national #YouCanAdopt campaign has launched in the West Midlands to encourage more people to consider adopting groups of brothers and sisters.

Latest figures show there are currently 2,020 children waiting to be adopted in England and, of those, 44% are in family groups of two or more.

Groups of two or more children wait an average of 17 months to be adopted, which is 135 days more than individual children. More than half of these groups even wait more than 18 months for their new family. For many potential adopters, this is due to groups being slightly older and because of worries about financial affordability, physical space, and it being too challenging.

Adoption@Heart is part of the campaign, launched by regional and voluntary adoption agencies across the country to highlight the significant benefits of adopting family groups of children together. As part of the campaign, a new film has been released featuring three families who have adopted brothers and sisters, alongside a new podcast featuring singer Sinitta, who adopted a brother and sister in 2007.

New research, commissioned by adoption agencies, has found that in the West Midlands, 62% of people say it’s important to grow up with brothers and sisters. In the survey of 176 people, 61% also say having brothers or sisters has positively impacted their lives or their wellbeing.

A further survey of those that have adopted, or are considering doing so, found that a key reason to adopt is to extend, or to start, a family (58%). Despite this, 34% of adopters do not consider adopting brothers and sisters.

Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, child psychologist and supporter of the campaign, said: “The brother and sister bond can offer incredible life-changing benefits throughout all aspects and stages of children’s lives.

“This is especially pertinent for adopted children, with #YouCanAdopt’s research showing the bond can support mental health, emotional wellbeing and social skills, and help children settle into a new family. Because of this, parents that adopt brothers and sisters together may find their experience benefitted by the support they can offer one another.”

According to adopters, the biggest challenges and concerns about adopting brothers and sisters are that it would be too challenging, affordability and the worry about not having enough space at home.

While challenges exist, there is a significant amount of support available to potential adopters – from financial to practical – and 88% of parents who adopted family groups say challenges are far outweighed by the positives. Many (61%) go as far to say that adopting children with their brothers or sisters has been the most beneficial factor in their children’s adoption journey; with benefits including increased reassurance, companionship, comfort, and settling into family life more quickly.

Mark Tobin, Head of Service at Adoption@Heart, said: “Adoption@Heart is once again proud to be part of the national #YouCanAdopt campaign encouraging people to find out more about adoption.

“So often we hear parents say adopting children with their brothers and sisters has been the most beneficial factor in their children’s adoption journey. We urge anyone considering adoption to think about the children in family groups who need a loving home and ask themselves if they can spare that extra space in their home, and their heart.

“There is plenty of support available – from the financial to the practical – for those that decide they can. If you believe you can consider adopting a sibling group and help us in keeping brothers and sisters together, please get in touch with us today”

Adoption@Heart is the Regional Adoption Agency for the Black Country, providing adoption services for City of Wolverhampton Council, Walsall Council, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and Sandwell Children’s Trust. Due to coronavirus restrictions, Adoption@Heart has moved its information events online.

They take place every two weeks and are the perfect place for those who are ready to start their adoption journey or would like more information. Future event dates are available which include details on how to book your place via Eventbrite.

Wolverhampton has officially thanked dozens of dedicated foster carers for the vital work they do looking after vulnerable children and young people in the city.

 

The City of Wolverhampton Council's Fostering for Wolverhampton team recognised the service of 42 foster carers at the ‘For The Love of Fostering’ awards evening at the Ramada Park Hall Hotel.

 

Leslie and Kevin Clarke, Joanne and Mark Collier, Yulrette Elliott, Lisa and Philip Mann, Yvonne Taylor, Satbinder and Jarnail Bains, Balbir Kaur and Shinda Singh and Janice and Gerald Pickard were commended for completing 10 years’ service.

 

Awards for 15 years' service were presented to Carolyn and Gary Harper, Helen and Michael Holden and Victoria Smith. Christine and Ted Howard were commended for 20 years’ service. Gillian and Andrew Small received an award for 25 years’ service and Liz and Trevor Jones were commended for over 30 years’ service.

 

This year’s awards event also included eight special awards. The Teenage Foster Carer Award was won by Maureen Powell with Sharon Brown highly commended.

 

The Kinship Carer Award was won by Grace Wylde and highly commended were Dawn James, Carol Daley and Bina Hudim. The Permanency Carer Award was won by Deborah and Shaun Webb and highly commended were David and Louise Whatton.

 

The Baby and Primary Children Carer Award was won by Stephen Goodwin and highly commended were Julie Round and Helen and Kevin Terry. The Sibling Group Carer Award was won by Theresa and Brian Hayes and highly commended were Tracy Kenny and Brian Fraser, Bev Peart, Terrie Naylor, Nora Riley and Bina Hudim.

 

The New Foster Carer Award was won by Sally Parker and highly commended were Patricia Palmer-Newby, Sally Abbiss, Thomas Nkompela and Leona and Alex Stojanovic.

 

The Outstanding Commitment to Fostering Children with Disabilities Award was won jointly by Angela Elliott and Gemma Wright, and the final award, Outstanding Contribution to Fostering was won by Brian Saunders with Maureen Powell, Yvonne Taylor, Judith Bradley and Emma-Jane Kisby all highly commended.

 

The evening was opened by the Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Phil Page and awards were presented by the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Councillor Paul Sweet and Emma Bennett, Director of Children’s Services.

 

Councillor Sweet said: "We are very lucky to have so many fantastic foster carers in Wolverhampton who combine a desire to help children with a commitment to providing the best possible care and support for them.

 

“I was delighted to be able to present awards to these very special people and to have the opportunity to personally thank them for their efforts on behalf of our city's children and young people.

 

"I would urge anyone who has considered fostering to speak to our Fostering for Wolverhampton team to find out more about this life-changing role.”

 

Foster carers can be sole carers, married or in a relationship. Placements can be anything from a few days to a number of years, and they receive a regular, tax exempt allowance to cover the cost of bringing up the child.

 

Help and support is available from the Fostering for Wolverhampton team 24 hours a day, while first-time foster carers also receive six months' buddy support from experienced carers who are there to guide them through the system.