OLDHAM Council is asking people to do something incredible this New Year and consider becoming foster carers.
They are keen to hear from anyone who is able to offer a home to an Oldham child or young person, especially older children, including teenagers.
Councillor Jenny Harrison, Cabinet Member for Social Care and Safeguarding, said: “Many people have considered fostering, but have never actually done anything about it.
“This New Year we are asking people to stop thinking about it and to give us a call.
“Becoming a foster carer is one of the most incredible and rewarding things you can do, helping a child or young person when they need it the most.
“You can apply to foster regardless of marital status, sexuality, race or religion, or whether you are in work or have a disability.
“All we ask is that you are over 21, enjoy working with children and have room in your home.”
Clare and Alec Matthews, from Chadderton, have been fostering for Oldham Council since 2007, and currently care for a teenage boy and a child with complex needs.
Clare said: “Having two children of our own we felt we had acquired the skills to help other families.
“We attended preparation training and learned there are so many reasons why fostering is needed and this made us want to really succeed in helping where we could.
“We have been fostering now for 10 years and there have been many highs. One of them being a child moving in to our home on a short-term basis and that turning into a long-term placement, which has so far lasted almost nine years.
“It is also lovely watching the children in our care succeed, take advantage of the opportunities we have provided and giving they tangible skills they may never have been able to get otherwise.”
Alec added: “We didn’t start out wanting to foster teenagers; we fell into it really because our eldest foster child came to live with us aged six and is still here now.
“Teenagers are challenging but also very rewarding. Our teen is flourishing and very much enjoying life. We wouldn’t want life without him now.
“We met our youngest foster child almost two years ago and immediately wanted to look after him long-term.”
Clare concluded: “If you are thinking of fostering, my advice would be to be open minded to the age groups of children that you think you may be most suited to caring for.
“Take all of the training available to you, seek support when you need it, listen to the needs of the child and enjoy.”
Oldham Council Fostering Service currently has 172 fostering families, providing placements for approximately 310 children.
Carers receive a tailored support package, plus payments and allowances up to £29,000 per year (dependent on skills and experience).
Call 0161 770 6600 or go online to find out more: www.oldham.gov.uk/fostering