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10 September 2020

Cumbria County Council foster carers back new fostering campaign in Kendal

Foster carers for Cumbria County Council are urging residents in Kendal to find out more about fostering at an online information event later this month.

The council’s network of 200 carers provide an essential service keeping vulnerable children safe, loved and cared for. They are ordinary people, doing something extraordinary - ensuring children have the best possible childhood and are able to reach their potential.

But with around 750 children in care across the county, the council urgently needs more people to join Cumbria’s biggest family. If your circumstances have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic or you feel ready for a change of career and would like to help change children’s lives, then we’d love to hear from you.

Karen Levens, a former nurse at Kendal’s Westmorland General Hospital, started fostering last year after realising she was ready for a change of direction in her career. Karen is a short term foster carer for children under seven.  

Karen said: “I thought about fostering for a long time. My aunty fosters and it was always something I was really interested in.

“Prior to fostering I had been a nurse for 16 years, working at Kendal hospital for six years, before working as a community nurse and then at a GP’s practice.

“Then a couple of years ago I had to take some time off from work following a shoulder operation and I realised I was ready for a career change but I still wanted to do something that was caring and made a difference to people’s lives.

“We were approved very quickly and our first placement was twins who we’ve recently moved on to adoption and we are currently fostering two children under the age of two.

“Fostering has been everything I hoped - I get so much from it and it feels so worthwhile. The biggest reward is to know that you are keeping children safe and to see them develop as they go through so many milestones.

“I would encourage anyone who’s been thinking of fostering to take the first step and get in touch.” 

While there is a need for foster carers for children of all ages, we have a particular need for long term carers for slightly older children and teenagers.

Lisa Golding, from Kirby Lonsdale, is a long term foster carer for two children aged eight and 17. She transferred to Cumbria County Council from an Independent Fostering Agency after moving to Cumbria.

Lisa said: “I have fostered for 15 years, originally with an agency in Manchester, and for the past year with Cumbria County Council.

“Over the years I have done short term fostering, long term, Shared Care and respite fostering and it can be challenging but I really enjoy the challenge. I find it really rewarding to gain the trust of the young person and to see them develop.

“The young lady I foster now was the main carer for her brother when she first came to live with me and now she has a part-time job, is attending college and is really happy and able to enjoy her life.

“When I do need help I get great support from my social worker and I also attend the monthly support groups where I have got to meet other carers.

“I would encourage anyone who is thinking about fostering to get in touch and find out more. It can be challenging but you also create some really lovely memories; you really do get back what you put into it.”

The council offers excellent training and a full package of support to foster carers, including initial Skills to Foster Training, generous allowances, regular support groups, peer mentors for new carers and a dedicated support social worker.

Cllr Anne Burns, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Our amazing foster carers come from all kinds of backgrounds, and have had varied life experiences, but they all wish to make a difference to children’s lives. It only takes one carer to change a child’s life and we are asking local people, could that be you?”

Anyone interested in finding out more can attend an upcomingVirtual Information event on Tuesday 29 September from 7pm to 8.30pm.

For details of how to join the session and for any further information please visit  cumbria.gov.uk/fostering or call us on 0303 333 1216.

Karen Levens

Lisa Golding

Foster carers for Cumbria County Council are urging residents in Kendal to find out more about fostering at an online information event later this month.