Awards for Fabulous Foster Carers
|Author: Nick Pearce, Media Officer, CBC||Published: 28th May 2012 14:33|
Foster care award winners with Ashley Taylor-Rhys and Cllr Sue Oliver,
Portfolio Holder for Childen's Social Care (back row, far left) and
Cllr Mark Versallion, Executive Member for Children's Services
(Back row, far right)The dedication of Foster Carers in Bedfordshire was celebrated at the annual Bedfordshire Foster Care Awards, held at Central Bedfordshire Council's offices in Chicksands on Friday (25th May).
On the night 15 foster carers were honoured and between them celebrated 65 years of fostering by receiving long service awards of five, 10 or 20 years.
The packed event, hosted by Ashley Taylor-Rhys, one of the stars of TV show Tracy Beaker, was the culmination of Bedfordshire Fostering Service's celebrations of Foster Care Fortnight (13-27 May), an annual national event aimed at encouraging more people to foster.
Maureen and Brian Roberts were honoured for the amazing achievement of providing 20 years of long term foster care to large sibling groups.
Brian, who is Chair of Bedfordshire's Foster Care Association, said:
"We knew of so many families where brothers and sisters were being separated, so our decision to become foster carers was about making a positive difference to the lives of children young people affected by this.
"We started out with five siblings, the youngest was just three, she's now at university. The eldest has three children of her own, so now we're proud grandparents too.
"We've always tried to help our foster children get to a position where they can make the next step, be that going back to their birth parents, moving onto to adoptive parents or starting a career or moving onto university.
"And we've made sure that each of our foster children has known the whole story. Lots of things change - social workers, schools etc, but we've always wanted the children we foster to know where they have come from, so that they have a true sense of their own identity."
Brian and Maureen Roberts with Cllr Sue Oliver, Portfolio
Holder for Children's Social Care, Bedford Borough Council and
Cllr Mark Versallion, Executive Member for Children's Services,
Central Bedfordshire CouncilBrian was also keen to stress the urgent need for more foster carers and the help available to support foster carers:
"Bedfordshire Fostering Service has always been excellent; nothing is too much trouble for them. I now know that the support we get is much better than the vast majority of other places in the country."
"You really can make a difference. As long as you go into it with your eyes open it will change your life."
Central Bedfordshire Council's Executive Member for Children's Services, Cllr Mark Versallion, said:
"What a fantastic and humbling evening. It was a great opportunity to pay tribute to the selfless commitment of our foster carers and give them the chance to celebrate their achievements with each other.
"We desperately need more foster carers. You can be single or in a relationship, you can work, and if you do decide that fostering is for you, our dedicated team will support you every step of the way.
"If you think you can make a difference and help transform the lives of children and young people by offering them love, support and stability, please get in touch."
Ashley Taylor-Rice, who plays Seth in Tracey Beaker, said:
"Having played a social worker in Tracey Beaker I was humbled to be here to recognise the great work that foster carers do."
Finding out more about fostering, couldn't be easier, just call 0300 300 8181, or visit http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/fostering
The full list of winners
Maureen and Brian Roberts
Linda and David Foster
Pat and Keith Coomber
Mick and Gill Hall
Chris and Gill Martin
Kathy and Mark Parker
Paul and Vicky Snow
(images supplied by CBC)