Why not give fostering a try? - Hartlepool children need youPublished Wednesday, 13th May 2020
As the UK marks annual Foster Care Fortnight, fostering chiefs in Hartlepool are reminding people of the pressing need for more foster carers in the town.
“All our foster carers are fantastic and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them once again for the vital role they play,” says Jane Wilson, the Council’s Fostering Team Manager.
“However, we still urgently need more of them. We need caring, loving foster homes for the children and young people in our care on both a short-term and long-term basis.
“We’re especially keen to hear from people who can help us keep groups of brothers and sisters together, support mums who need help to look after their babies or help teenagers who need some structure in their lives.
“Being a foster carer is very rewarding and we’ll give you all the training and financial and emotional support you’ll need to do that.
“There’s no ‘typical’ foster carer, so please don’t rule yourself out, whatever your age, background or circumstances.”
Longstanding Hartlepool foster carers Joyce and Joe Melrose are encouraging more people to come forward.
Joyce and Joe Melrose
Joyce, a retired teaching assistant, and Joe, a former steelworker, have fostered 30 Hartlepool youngsters in their ten years as foster carers and they have absolutely no regrets. They look after brother and sister groups.
“The children come to you a bit ‘wrung out’ but they soon settle in,” says Joyce, who is 63. “They start to feel secure and cared about, gain confidence, make friends with other youngsters in the neighbourhood and start to hold their heads up. You feel you are really making a difference.”
The couple have four grown-up daughters of their own and it was always their goal to foster once their own children had left the nest and they had the space.
They made a personal choice to be short-term carers – anything up to two years - for children aged up to ten who then either return to their family or move on to permanent foster carers or adopters.
The couple have their own supervising social worker, who visits them regularly and who is only a phone call away if needed.
“We have had fantastic support and training,” says Joyce, “and there are allowances to cover things like clothing, transport, trips out, gas, electricity and food and you get special payments as your skills and experience grow.”
Joe says: “People think it must be really difficult, but it’s not. Yes, you need patience, understanding and a willingness to learn, but the key thing is to be as normal as possible – you are just being the people who the children can feel safe with and who they can rely on to give them love.”
Joyce adds: “The children are only with us for a short time and then they go on to their forever family, but during that time we care for them and build good memories and experiences for them, to help pave the way for them to grow into happy and confident young adults.”