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16 January 2018

Carlisle's longest serving foster carer backs campaign to find more carers for Cumbria

With a new year underway, Cumbria County Council is urging those looking for a life-changing experience to think about fostering in 2018.

The council currently supports 50 fostering households across Carlisle and Eden and needs 30 more to come forward this year, in order to offer the safe, secure and loving homes needed by our county’s most vulnerable children.

There is a need for all types of carers in the region, but especially for foster cares who can offer a permanent, long-term home to a child, as well as those who could offer a home to a sibling group or a teenager.

Our Carlisle basedSandra Fialkowski, along with her husband Rob, has been a foster carer in Carlisle for 35 years. In that time she has opened her home and her heart to many children, from new born babies to teenagers and sibling groups. She said:

“We started fostering because we really, really wanted to make a difference; if only to one person. In fact we’ve now looked after 196 children; there are so many children who just need love, understanding and security.

“As a carer you need to have what we call ‘stickability’ - to see past the problems and stick with it. One boy who came to us had never been shown how to use a knife and fork. He was 13. We expect these children to play the game but they’ve never been given the full deck, so how can they play the game? It is down to us to show them.

“When it is time for the children to leave, I struggle with it every time. Every child that leaves takes a part of you with them. But if they remember just one little thing we’ve taught them, then we’ve made a difference and it’s a very special feeling.

“People sometimes ask why we keep doing it? Sadly there is always someone out there waiting for someone to care for them; that’s the thing that keeps me going more than anything, there’s always someone else that needs us.”

Cllr Anne Burns, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said:

“Our foster carers, like Sandra, are ordinary people who all wanted to do something extraordinary for children in their local communities.

“If you think you have the ‘stickability’ for fostering and you have a spare room in your home and, perhaps more importantly, the room in your heart to give a child or young person the start they deserve in life, then please get in touch or attend one of our events.

“Whether you are very experienced in child care or simply wish to make a difference, there are many types of fostering and there’s almost certainly a type to fit in with your lifestyle. The hardest part in any journey is often taking that first step but, rest assured, our friendly team will be there to guide you all the way.”

Last year our foster carers, like Sandra and Rob, changed children’s lives. This year it could be you. If you think you have what it takes and would like to find out more come to one of our upcoming information events and speak to our team and foster carers:

  • Wednesday 7 February - Crown and Mitre Hotel, Carlisle - Tea and coffee from 6pm, presentation starts 6.30pm.
  • Saturday 10 February - George Hotel, Penrith - Tea and coffee from 2pm, presentation starts 2.30pm

If you can’t make an event go to www.cumbria.gov.uk/fostering or call 0303 333 1216 to find out more. 

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With a new year underway, Cumbria County Council is urging those looking for a life-changing experience to think about fostering in 2018.