More than 200 foster carers from across the borough have been recognised for their exceptional contribution to Croydon’s children and young people at a special awards ceremony.
The event, held at the Hilton Hotel in Croydon, was organised by Croydon Council to celebrate the difference these families and individuals make to children and young people’s lives every day. It was attended by the Mayor of Croydon, councillor Bernadette Khan; councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning and other senior leaders from the council.
Certificates were awarded to carers who had dedicated over 10 and 20 years of service to fostering in Croydon – a total of 55 carers received these accolades.
Rebekah Smith was the recipient of the Child’s Choice award – she was nominated by a child who described her as her ‘best friend.’
Tony Miller won the Staff Choice award – voted for by council officers in the fostering service. He was recognised for taking on some of Croydon’s most challenging and vulnerable young people. His passion for helping them redirect their lives onto the right path was of particular merit, supporting those in his care to get back into education.
Martin Williams was awarded the Commitment Award. He has fostered for 18 years – caring for a number of children and young people of varying degrees of vulnerability; providing long term stability and continued support. He is also very active in the wider fostering community – organising activities across the year, chairing the Croydon Foster Carers Association and sitting on the Croydon Corporate Parenting Panel.
The ceremony also celebrated the incredible service of Janetta and Mervin Grant, who recently retired after 33 years of fostering. They have cared for young people from different backgrounds, with high levels of vulnerability and complex needs. They are well known across Croydon for their unrivalled support to social workers and probation partners.
At the event last Friday, the audience were treated to a performance from Project Cypher, a group of children and young people looked after by the council.
Cllr Alisa Flemming, Croydon’s cabinet member for children, young people and learning, says: “I want to thank our wonderful family of foster carers, and celebrate them for all that they do for our children and young people and the love that they give. “Every child is one adult away from being a success – and often, that one adult is a foster carer. “They make a real difference”
The council has 237 foster carer households providing in-house foster placements, while the remaining looked after children are placed in other settings, including independent foster carers sourced through independent agencies.
Demand for foster carers is increasing in Croydon, with a need for additional 200 places over the last three years. To find out more about fostering in Croydon visit www.croydon.gov.uk/fostering or email Iwantttofoster@croydon.gov.uk (Source: Croydon council press release)
LAMBETH SEEK MORE TO HELP CARE
Many new foster carers are parents whose children have grown up and become independent. They miss the buzz of a full house and want to do something for the children in their community.
Joan, a foster carer for Lambeth since 1993, has recently been awarded an MBE for her commitment to the profession. To date, she’s fostered over 50 children in Lambeth and shares some of her experience of fostering after her own children grew up.
Why did you decide to become a foster carer?
“I guess it all started with my grandmother. She was a big part of the community and always welcomed children into her home in Jamaica. I think this is why I always have to cook a big pot and give to others.
“At the time I was at college studying health and social care. A friend asked whether I’d thought about becoming a foster carer. I thought about it and she gave me Lambeth’s number so I made the call!”
What did your children think about you becoming a foster carer?
My daughter was excited about the idea of me fostering. My children had always brought school friends round to stay over who I welcomed in – cooking, talking to them about their education, asking about their family. Having foster children in our own home felt no different to this really.
What do you think makes a good foster carer?
“My first thoughts are tolerance, lots of patience and learning to meet them halfway!”
“You don’t just decide to do this job if you don’t care. You need to really care about children and their feelings.
“One-to-one time with the children is also so important. Less talking and more listening. I make sure I give each child at least 10 private minutes every day. Ask them how their day was, check they’re okay. So they think ‘hang on a minute, here’s someone asking about me, listening to me. They must care’.
What’s your advice to anyone thinking about becoming a foster carer?
You must love yourself first before you can love others. Love the negatives and positives sides of yourself. Know yourself. The children who come into your care won’t usually have this so it’s important that you do.
When they come to you they have everything bottled up, they don’t want to talk to anyone. Help them express themselves and communicate, tell us what they need – if they move to another placement, show them how to ask for what they need to make it work for them.
It’s all about teaching them to love every part of themselves and to have a voice.
What’s it like working with Lambeth children?
Nowadays I only work with young offenders – they keep you on your feet every day! This takes up a lot of time as it can mean attending court, visiting schools if they drop out etc. But I enjoy it – it’s the only work I want to do now.
Over time Lambeth has empowered me to work with young offenders. I just knew after some really good training that I was equipped to help these children.
I understand the Youth Offending System and enjoy helping to get them out of the system and see their confidence grow.
Tell us about the support you get from Lambeth Fostering
When you work for Lambeth you’re not alone – the training is excellent and there are opportunities throughout the year. I go to as much training as I can because it helps my work become easier.
There are monthly support group meetings which I go to as often as I can. These are groups Lambeth arrange for foster carers and social workers to get together and talk about feelings and any extra support that might be needed. It’s a good chance to share your own tips and experience with other carers.
There’s also mentoring which is really good. If a foster carer is having problems it gives them someone to call if they need advice and ask – how would you act in this situation?
Find out more and apply
Lambeth’s fostering service is always in urgent need of foster care placements for children with disabilities, sibling groups and teenagers. Placements types are all different but can range from short term to emergency and long term.
To find out more about the excellent training, support and fees on offer, visit www.lambeth.gov.uk/foster. Here you can also watch videos to hear about what more of Lambeth’s current carers say about their experience of fostering. You can also find out about the different placement types and the process of becoming a carer.
If you’d like to apply to become a carer we’d love to hear from you. Please call 020 7926 8710 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (Source: Lambeth council’s ‘Love Lambeth’ website)