Chippenham is the focus of local campaign to find more foster carers
Wiltshire Council is asking Chippenham residents to consider fostering as they campaign to recruit an additional 18 foster families in the area
Wiltshire Council is asking Chippenham residents to consider fostering as they campaign to recruit an additional 18 foster families in the area.
The fostering team will be visiting key sites and enlisting the support of businesses, charities, faith leaders and organisations to highlight the need for more foster carers in the area.
The council has a three-year campaign to provide 100 new foster carers by spring 2023 and so far has recruited an additional 68 foster families.
Fostering with your local council means all money is spent on frontline services and the child is more likely to be able to stay close to their school, friends and family networks. The council has recently increased its fostering rates which range from £366 to £680 a week depending on people's skills and experience.
Wiltshire Council began its localised campaigns last year and Chippenham is the fifth local area targeted for recruitment. Previous campaigns have been in Trowbridge, Devizes, Calne and Salisbury.
The council's Kinship and Fostering team will be available to chat at Morrisons in Chippenham from 10am to 3pm on Friday 4 November. The team will also be at Emery Gate, Chippenham from 10am to 3pm on Saturday 19 November with a current foster carer to answer questions for all stages of enquiry - from people who just want to know more to those that are seriously considering fostering.
There will also be an online drop-in session for those wanting to speak to the fostering team or a foster carer to find out more on Tuesday 29 November between 6pm and 7pm. People will need to use Microsoft Teams to access the session.
Local residents Amanda and Paul were approved as foster carers in March 2020 and are currently fostering a teenage girl long term and a younger boy.
Fostering had been in the back of their minds for around 10 years and then they decided to make the call and start the process.
Amanda explained: "It's always been in the background but we were thinking: 'shall we do it?' Then we thought let's enquire and talk to someone. They came around and we had that opportunity to talk to the person doing the interview and she went away and we talked and we thought let's have a go."
Amanda advises the vetting process can take time and there are questions about your background, however the end goal is worth it. Wiltshire Council foster carers have support through a supervising social worker and ongoing access to training.
Amanda continued: "Our supervising social worker is amazing - we absolutely rate her opinions, advice and her professionalism and she's really good at her job, we completely trust her. It's definitely a partnership and you can build up that relationship and feel really supported. The courses are really good - we've managed to do them all online on Teams and it suits us being at home. We can just log on and do it and that's been really good as well."
She also has some advice for those thinking about fostering but unsure of the next step: "If you think you want to help these kids do it - it really is rewarding. Some teenagers are quite independent. We trust our teenager and it can be a lot easier with teenagers as they can do their own thing. They just all need support and for you to look out for them and give guidance. As a foster carer you can be there to support them as they think about the next steps and what they want to do in the future and that can be extremely rewarding.
Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children's Services, said: "Amanda and Paul are two of our amazing foster carers who make an incredible difference in our children and young people's lives. We need more foster carers like Amanda and Paul in the Chippenham area so we're asking people to visit us at our drop in events or information evening or contact us to find out more. Rewarding is a word our carers often use to describe the impact of the care they provide. If you are thinking about fostering we are here to support you every step of the way. Take the first step and speak to us."
Foster carers need to be over 21 years of age, have a spare bedroom, time to care for a child and a willingness to care and seek to understand young people who have experienced trauma and loss.