Posted: Fri 25th Mar 2016

Mayor Recognises The Achievements Of Long-Serving Foster Carers /
This article is old - Published: Friday, Mar 25th, 2016

Two of Bridgend County Borough Council’s fostering families have been awarded with a Mayor’s Citizenship Award for their services to fostering. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Between the two families, they have a combined 78 years of providing foster placements to vulnerable children and young people. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Patricia and John Bevan are nearing a milestone, celebrating their fortieth year of fostering. In that time, they have provided a safe, stable and loving home for what’s estimated to be around 100 babies, children and young people. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Working with children and families from all walks of life, they have provided placements for children with a variety of different issues, including: physical disabilities, premature birth, malnutrition, learning disabilities and more. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Thriving on challenges and approaching difficulties calmly and pragmatically, they are extremely dedicated to the children they foster. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

John Bevan said: “We really enjoy being foster carers. It’s not always plain sailing but nothing satisfies us more than seeing the children in our care making progress and ultimately achieve long-term stability and happiness.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Clive and Gillian Finch have been approved as foster carers since 1977, giving them 38 years of fostering experience. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Never giving up on young people, the warm and friendly couple have strong family values and a commitment to ensure that children in their care reach their full potential. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Gillian Finch commented: “We wouldn’t foster if it wasn’t rewarding. Watching the children develop and come out of their shell right in front of us is wonderful to see. Knowing we are making a real difference makes it all worthwhile.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Services and Equalities, Councillor Hailey Townsend, commented on the accolades: “Both fostering families deserve this recognition. Acquiring nearly forty years’ of fostering experience each is a huge achievement and should be applauded. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Between them, they have helped many children and young people across Bridgend County Borough by providing loving and safe homes and helping them to realise their potential. Essentially they have helped turn lives around by being there for the children when they have been at their most vulnerable. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Currently we have a real shortage of foster carers and really need people who have a spare bedroom, a commitment to change lives and space in their heart, to come forward.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Demand for foster carers is still great. According to the Fostering Network, 600 families are needed in Wales. Bridgend is no different; foster carers are needed to come forward to meet the diverse needs of some of our most vulnerable children. Since 2010, the number of children in care has increased by nearly a quarter and currently, there are 380 children and young people who are looked after in Bridgend County Borough. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Increasing the number of foster carers will not only ensure that vulnerable children live in loving and stable homes, but it can help reduce placement disruption via careful matching. Without the recruitment of these extra foster carers, it is certain that placement disruption will continue, siblings will keep on being separated and some children may have to live in areas miles from where they originally grew up. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Almost anyone can become a foster carer; there is no ‘ideal’ type of foster carer. The council needs people from a variety of different backgrounds and life experiences to meet the needs of the children. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

You can be a parent already, or have no children of your own. You can be a single, a couple in a same sex relationship, married, divorced or separated. You can be claiming benefits or in work. You can own your house or rent. You can apply to foster whatever your cultural background and religious beliefs. You can apply from the age of 21 and can continue fostering past retirement age. No formal qualifications are required. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Councillor Townsend added: “If you’ve already considered becoming a foster carer, or your interest is new, contact the fostering team who will be able to provide information and answer queries.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Bridgend County Borough Council provides foster carers with extensive training, financial allowances, 24-hour support, plus provide carers with the opportunity to undertake relevant qualifications. Child fostering allowance is not taxed, and does not count against state benefits. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Bridgend Foster Care Team also organises regular meet and greet sessions that provide friendly information on fostering, including a no-obligation chat with social workers and current foster carers. The next session will take place on Wednesday 20 April at 7pm in the Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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