A foster carer from Retford in Nottinghamshire is joining a host of TV stars to help launch a new appeal for more people to come forward as carers across the East Midlands today.
Foster mum Julie Chester-Stirling has fostered for Barnardo’s for 10 years and has agreed to share her story in a bid to encourage more people from the region to come forward. She is joined by TOWIE’s Debbie and Lydia Bright along with actress Lynda Bellingham in launching today’s appeal for more foster carers in the Nottingham area.
Julie and the three stars have movingly revealed how fostering has touched their lives in a bid to encourage more people to come forward. There are 500 more foster carers desperately needed across the East Midlands to provide stable, loving homes for some of society’s most vulnerable children. Barnardo’s is looking for local couples and individuals to take on this challenging but highly-rewarding work.
Julie & Danny’s story
Danny first met his foster mum Julie just before Christmas 2005 at the age of 10, a meeting he fondly remembers, not least for the plateful of chocolate animal biscuits he polished off all by himself!
Danny had been having a tough time – separated from his sisters and birth parents and with a string of broken down foster placements – he wasn’t sure what to expect from the meeting.
But the two hit it off immediately and Danny returned to spend Christmas Day with Julie’s husband and older son, going on to become their first long term foster child.
Danny still lives at home, calls Julie Mum and is a very much loved and important member of the family. Danny and Julie have stacks of fond memories of Danny’s childhood and he still to this day enjoys a box of chocolate animal biscuits in his stocking every Christmas.
Outdoors-loving Danny recalls many expeditions exploring the nearby Clumber Park and indulging in his obsession with frogs, spending hours building dens in the garden, digging huge holes in the sand during beach holidays and a particularly eventful day when Julie managed to accidentally sink a friend’s kayak.
Danny is about to start his final year of college which will see him fully qualify as a site joiner and is spending his summer helping out his brother as a labourer. He’s also planning on spending time with his girlfriend of 14 months.
He says he has enjoyed a wonderful childhood as part of Julie’s family and can’t imagine life any other way. If you think you could give a child a home – and a lifetime of happy memories, contact Barnardo’s East Midlands Family Placement Team on 01332 544711.
Lynda Bellingham, actress, television presenter and Barnardo’s ambassador, was adopted and is married to Michael who was fostered as a child. Lynda said: “I was adopted at four months old and my husband Michael was fostered from a very early age. His mother ran off with the village butcher and left his father with a six month old baby. His dad tried hard to manage on his own but it was impossible because he had to go to work. Michael was sent to a lovely family in Sherbourne in Dorset called the Andrews family who he called Mum and Dad, because as far as he was concerned they were.
“The one big thing that kept coming up for Michael and I when discussing what would make a good foster carer was you should never underestimate the power of a hug. Sometimes only a hug will do. Michael loves his family and always talks about his childhood with a smile on his face. I wish that joy for every foster child. Please contact Barnardo’s today to see if you could foster.”
The number of children in care has risen for the 7th year in a row to over 92,000. Across the UK, another 8,600 foster carers are now needed to provide homes for these children.
Foster carers can come from all walks of life. Barnardo’s does not exclude anyone from consideration on the grounds of marital status, sexual orientation, disability or employment status. There is no upper age limit to becoming a foster carer and Barnardo’s is keen to speak to older people with life experience, whether they are parents themselves or not.
Javed Khan, chief executive, Barnardo’s, said: “Taking a vulnerable child under your wing is a daunting prospect but when we ask foster carers what you need for the job it always come back to the little things: patience, sense of humour and a heart.
“Our foster carers transform the future for the children in their care and teach them their own parenting skills for later life. The legacy of every foster carer lives on in the lives of generations to come. What a very special gift to give.
“We see our foster carers as our partners in supporting vulnerable children. We provide them with as much support, training and advice as possible, for as long as it is needed.”
To find out more about fostering with Barnardo’s visit www.barnardos.org.uk or call 08000 277 280 or Barnardo’s East Midlands Family Placement Team on 01332 544711.