It’s the season for family summer holidays and residents in Wigan Borough are being asked if they could open up their home to a child through foster care.
Like many other families, Wigan residents Wendy and Steve are looking forward to making memories this summer as they plan a holiday to Fuerteventura.
And it will be a special trip not just for Wendy and Steve, but for their foster daughter Helen, who has been with them since September. They are holidaying with another two couples who are foster carers, one of which is looking after Helen’s siblings.
Wendy and Steve have been fostering for 13 years. Wendy said: “We have a really positive relationship with the other families who are looking after the other siblings. We actively keep the children in touch. We just want them to have the same opportunities as our own daughter, and that all children should have.”
Wendy works in two special educational needs schools and began her fostering journey when she wanted to care for one of the pupils who was going through a difficult period in his life.
She explained: “One day a young man came into school not knowing where he was sleeping that night as the local authority had a shortage of foster carers and were seeking a placement for him. I said I wanted him to stay with us and was told I’d need to be an approved carer at that time so we decided that’s what we would do.
“We started as foster carers for respite, having children on regular weekends and in school holidays, but have also fostered three children long-term.
“Over the years we’ve fostered about 30 children. It really does make a difference to a young person’s life. We love bringing them in as part of our family and giving them the experiences every child should have.
“We love to build lasting relationships and be able to support a young person in preparation for adult life. We support the young people to have an understanding on how they get to being the person they want to be in life.”
Since Helen has been with the family they’ve been to London, Centre Parcs, Mallorca and Egypt!
Wendy said: “We love making memories for young people. We have had some brilliant holidays and hopefully even more to come. One young man we took to Disney so he could experience the magic!
“It can be a really positive experience. You just have to be flexible, and do your research to find the right accommodation which suits your family.”
Wendy’s 28-year-old daughter Steph has also enjoyed having new children join the family and now provides respite care herself with her partner. They also have taken young people in foster care on holiday and had some wonderful times camping.
Jenny Bullen, cabinet member for children and young people’s services at Wigan Council, said: “Through The Deal for Foster Carers, we’re committed to ensuring our foster carers have the right training and support so they can provide the best home for our young people.
“We have children currently waiting to be fostered who would absolutely love to become part of a family and go on a summer holiday.
“We need more foster carers to give loving homes to our young people and hope people feel inspired to start their fostering journey.”
If you could make a difference to a child’s life and want to find out more about fostering visit www.wigan.gov.uk/fostering or call us on 01942 487200.