Central Bedfordshire Council has held its annual Celebration of Fostering event to thank all fostering families for their valued service to fostering.
The event at Woburn Safari Park was also a chance to celebrate those families due to receive long service awards.
The foster carers and their families enjoyed a well-deserved day of fun, visiting the animals in the park, socialising with other families, and enjoying a picnic in a safe environment.
Amongst the 84 guests, 15 awards were given for long service to fostering – who collectively have been fostering for an amazing 170 years between them.
The dedication and exceptional work of all foster carers, helps to give children in Bedfordshire a stable and loving home which they may not otherwise have had.
An extra special award was given to Sandra and Tim Thorne, who celebrated an incredible 35 years of service to fostering. They said:
“We had such a lovely day, and it was great to get our award for 35 years. Fostering has meant that we’ve been able to work with children as well as be at home whilst our own children grow up.”
“One of the most important parts of fostering for us is that children keep links with their families. Sometimes they just need a bit of support till they can get back on their feet. If that’s not possible it’s meant that they can reconnect later in life.
“We’re now seeing the children we’ve fostered achieve so much as adults, having positive lives, getting married and having their own children, it’s great.
“We’re not planning to retire from fostering anytime soon – it’s become our life; it works so well round our lifestyle and Tim’s work round the farm. We’ve also got great friends who we’ve met through fostering.”
Cllr Amanda Dodwell, deputy to the executive member for families, education and children, attended the event to present the awards, she said:
“It was an honour and a pleasure to attend the event and meet our fostering families. I can’t express how amazing our fostering families are, especially during the COVID pandemic, they went above and beyond to ensure some of Central Bedfordshire’s most vulnerable children continued to have a loving, stable and calm home.
“I would urge anyone considering fostering to get in touch with the team, to have a chat about the different schemes available, fostering is open to more people than you may think.”
The Council said that often people will rule themselves out of becoming foster carers as they feel there may be a barrier to them fostering. But many of those are just that, myths that are usually not true.
Things like working full time, being an LGBTQ family, or a single person, or age being a factor. Even having pets can make people think they might not be suitable, so they never take the next step to research the options.
Most people also don’t realise there are many different schemes for fostering – from caring for children in an emergency, offering weekend care on a regular basis or looking after young people on a short or long-term basis.
The Central Bedfordshire team are always keen to hear from anyone who is considering fostering, please call 0300 300 8181, drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/foster.