MP Edward Timpson the Children’s Minister is asking the public to consider becoming foster carers as part of his new campaign that asks if people are willing to offer a child a childhood. The campaign was kicked off by the Compass Community of fostering agencies in an effort to help deal with the shortage of foster homes for children. It is aimed at showing the support, training, and satisfying rewards that come with offering others the chance to make a difference in a child’s life.
Compass Community’s CEO, Ian Pigden-Bennett, said: “Many children who come into care have never had a childhood; they’ve never been to the beach or flown a kite, they’ve never had an ice cream in the park or ridden a bike. We’re looking for caring individuals who can offer children and young people that opportunity to fill in the gaps of their childhood and give them a great future.”
Compass Community’s five independent fostering agencies – Seafields Fostering, Eden Fostering, Modus Fostering Partnership, Compass Fostering and The Fostering Partnership – work with local authorities to find foster carers from a wide variety of backgrounds in order to match the needs of children coming into care.
The launch event in Westminster, with the London Eye in the background, coincided with the Fostering Network charity’s annual awareness campaign, Foster Care Fortnight, the theme of which is ‘Get in the Frame’. Representatives from Compass Community and its fostering agencies did just that, joined by the Minister, who commended Compass for its innovative Give a Child a Childhood campaign to recruit more carers.
Mr Timpson, whose own parents fostered 87 children, said: “A fostering organisation like Compass Community is integral to ensuring we have enough foster carers for the number of children going into care. With 67,000 children needing care we must ensure we have as many people coming forward to foster as possible.
“I grew up in a foster family and at times it can be challenging, there is no denying it, but it is also ultimately hugely rewarding when you see children who are often very damaged and vulnerable start to build in that resilience and grow in your care. That is such a wonderful feeling and that is why my parents ended up fostering for 30 years.
“To be a foster carer, you need to have a nurturing spirit and a love of children and you need to be able to provide a loving stable family environment where those children who have often been neglected and abused have the opportunity to have a normal childhood where they can build up their skills and ability to cope with what life has to throw at them in their adult years.”
In a recent survey of more than 1,000 people undertaken by the Compass Community on the Netmums website, four out of five mums said they either were or might be interested in fostering, yet hadn’t taken the first step. Nine out of 10 were not aware they could receive an annual allowance of between £20,000 and £40,000 depending on a child’s needs. One in three thought it would take two years to go through the fostering process instead of four to six months.
Mr Pigden-Bennett added: “Our new campaign aims to dispel the many myths surrounding fostering. If people are over 21 and have a spare bedroom, our fostering agencies would like to hear from them. We are privileged to have the backing of a Government Minister who knows exactly what foster care is all about and how important it really is to give a child their childhood back.”
To see the full interview with Edward Timpson MP, visit www.youtube.com/compasschildren; for further information about the survey or Compass Community’s services, please visit www.compasscommunity.co.uk or call freephone 0800 566 8317.