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People with that empty nest feeling asked to consider fostering

Posted on Wednesday 5th October 2022
The Voyles NR

The Voyle Family with the Foster for Staffordshire Bus

With children back at school, and some teenagers off to university, the county’s fostering service is asking families if they’re now ready for a new challenge.

One couple who found themselves with an empty nest and ready for a new adventure is Jackie Osborne and husband Tony from Blythe Bridge. The couple have been fostering with Staffordshire County Council for almost four years, having brought up four children of their own.  With only one child left at home, the couple decided that fostering could be the answer.

Jackie said: “We were used to kids running around the house and as they moved out, the house felt empty. We had thought about fostering over the years but it was only when we saw an advert for an information meeting that we felt the time was right.

“We are currently fostering a young man on a long-term basis and he has settled in really well with us.  We have found fostering really rewarding, helping someone who is struggling, giving them a normal family life and taking them on family holidays is great.  We both really enjoy supporting him and would encourage anyone else with that empty nest feeling to get in touch with the fostering team. It could be the best thing you will ever do.”

Judith and Martin Voyle from Stafford have been fostering for three years.  Being parents to several children, some with a disability, they wanted to support other parents and decided to enquire about short break disability fostering.

Judith said: “ We had considered fostering for a while but decided on short break fostering to see how it would work with our own children’s needs first and also our own time commitments, as we both worked at the time.

“We are currently matched with two children who come separately for one weekend a month. We have built up a great relationship with the parents of the children as well as the children themselves and it’s great to feel that you are making a real difference. We’d encourage anyone thinking about fostering to just go for it.”

When paramedic Marc Van Heemsbergen from Burntwood met his now wife Debbie, she was already fostering. They have now been fostering together for seven years. They mainly foster babies but they have one young man who has stayed with them for over 11 years, who came to Debbie when he was just two.

Marc said: “We really enjoy fostering, being there for a child in their hour of need, giving them some breathing space and allowing them to settle. We play an active role in preparing them for their next steps, whether it’s back home to their family, on to adoption or long-term foster care. It’s a really rewarding role. I’d encourage anyone thinking about fostering to go ahead and take that first step.  You can make a real difference to a local child.”

“We are always looking for more foster families to come forward explained Mark Sutton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Staffordshire County Council.

Mark said: “We know that when children fly the nest and leave home for university or work, it can leave some families with that empty nest feeling.

“In our latest push to find more foster families, we’re appealing to people looking to do something different with their lives or take on a new adventure or challenge.

“Fostering makes a real difference to the lives of hundreds of children in Staffordshire every day, and when we talk to our foster carers they tell us it’s a hugely rewarding thing to do. I would encourage anyone thinking about fostering to get in touch.”

The service is hoping to recruit 60 new foster families this year and has a particular need for carers for sibling groups and teenagers.

Carers receive a package of local support and training and a competitive fostering allowance.

People can find out more at www.fosterforstaffordshire.co.uk  or by calling 0800 169 2061 and requesting an information pack.

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