Campaign to be launched to give North East children loving homes

Hundreds of children across the North East are looking for caring families to give them a good home

Foster carers Colin & Alyson Alvers
Foster carers Colin & Alyson Alvers

Councils in the region have revealed that a large number of youngsters are waiting to be fostered or adopted, including 350 in Northumberland, 488 in Sunderland has 488, 353 in Gateshead and 300 in North Tyneside.

While some of the young people are living with family members, many are still looking for loving homes and a number of initiatives have been drawn up to help recruit more foster carers and adopters.

Gateshead is looking to recruit up to 40 sets of new foster carers with a high-profile campaign in the New Year.

Coun Angela Douglas, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Gateshead Council needs foster carers to make a real difference to the lives of children and young people. In return we can offer carers payment for their skills, access to relevant training and support from our team of specialist staff.

“By choosing to become a foster carer a person can make a huge difference to a child’s life – and their own.”

Alyson Avers and her husband Colin, of Walker Dene in Newcastle, left their careers in residential care to become foster carers for Gateshead Council last year. They initially became interested in fostering after growing particularly attached to a child in care at the centre where they worked.

Following their successful application the child was placed with the couple, and they have since cared for four other youngsters. They currently have a six-year-old boy and are looking to care for a sibling group after Christmas.

Alyson, 43, said: “It’s the best job I’ve ever done. I am paid well for doing something I really enjoy. Not many people these days have real job satisfaction. If they do, it is usually at the expense of their family life, but we have the best of both worlds. We have far more time to spend with our family.”

Colin, 53, added: “These children aren’t bad kids, they just want to belong and have a family.

“I would tell anybody considering fostering that is dubious about the type of children they will be asked to care for to sit in my house for five minutes. They would see what a positive thing fostering is, and how much love these children have to offer.”

In Northumberland, there are 350 young people in care.

Coun Robert Arckless, lead policy member for children’s services, said: “As a community you don’t always realise the number of children and young people needing temporary families through foster care or permanent families through long term foster care or adoption.

“They may need a home while we work with their family to resolve issues to enable children to return to their family home.

“Others are unable to return to their families for lots of different reasons. Some children fare better with a long-term foster family while for others we seek an adoptive parent or parents. We ask for lots of different people to come forward to meet the differing needs of the children and young people.”

In Newcastle, around 60 youngsters are waiting to be adopted. They are aged up to 10 and many are part of sibling groups. Some have lived in foster care all their lives, some have complex emotional needs due to their experiences and others have health issues they will need support with.

Deborah Anderson, adoption manager at the city council, said: “In Newcastle, we have taken steps to grow the number of families approved for adoption by investing in our recruitment team and campaigning for new recruits with an advertising campaign on prime-time TV, as part of the Adoption for Life campaign.

“I’m confident we can build on this and go even further to ensure that all our children have the chance to achieve the best possible outcomes in life.”

South Tyneside’s fostering service has referrals for 30 children. The majority of them are in temporary placements. And 11 young people are waiting to be adopted.

Durham County Council needs 60 families to adopt and another 50 to foster children.

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