Foster carers in Stoke-on-Trent are taking part in the Hanley Economic Potters ‘Arf Marathon as a relay team to encourage others to get involved in giving children a second chance.
The Foster carers will also be joined by fostering social workers and Cllr Dave Evans, cabinet member for Children and Young People, who will be running the course as individuals.
Kelly Walklate is taking part in the unique event for the first time as part of a team from the Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Fostering department having not done a race of this distance since completing the Race for Life seven years ago. Having previously worked in a school, Kelly began fostering three years ago and has looked after 6 (including respite) plus a foster child already in placement.
She said: “There are so many children out there that need a loving and nurturing home and it’s so rewarding to be able to do that. We’ll be taking part in the race with fostering t-shirts and are really hoping that by doing it it will encourage other people to get involved with fostering. If anyone was thinking about becoming a foster carer, I would say do it. It can change your life forever. It’s more than just a job because you’re helping to give children a second chance in life. It’s important to have lots of support around you because when they leave it’s heart breaking. It doesn’t get any easier but it’s so rewarding.”
Denise Coffey, who began as a family and friends foster carer, eight years ago, to look after her grandson, who was at the time six months old said: “It was certainly at daunting task, as I wasn’t expecting this turn of events in my life, but the support I have received has been fantastic. Being a family & friend carer is not a role many people will choose, but after getting involved more with the Foster Care Association, I started to conduct training and found a mutual respect amongst carers, whether they were family and friend or general foster carers.
“Because my grandson is so active, because of his age, I decided to start going the gym to be able to keep up with him and a couple of years ago I took part in the Mow Cop Killer Mile to raise £500 each for the Foster Care Association and Mind, a charity who also helped me when I was struggling with my mental health. For last year’s Potters ‘Arf, I took on the hilly parts in the relay team, but this year I have swapped with another member of the team so I can complete the final leg.
“We have bonded over taking part in the Potters Arf, and I am looking forward to being part of the relay team again this year. I’d also like to give a special shout out to my social workers who have always been there for me when I needed to talk to someone. It has made a world of difference to me.”
A relay team section – which is ideal for those who do not want to run the full 13.1 miles – can be done in groups of between two and four to split the route up. The event is aimed at people of all abilities.
The Potters ’Arf is one of the most unique, community-spirited races in the UK. It has amazing support across Stoke-on-Trent, a wonderful atmosphere at the city centre finish, special medals and fantastic challenges. It also raises thousands of pounds for local charities – including Douglas Macmillan Hospice, who help adults and children with life limiting illnesses and The Alice Charity – who work to improve the lives of families in crisis.
Kelly added: “Training is going well so far and I’m, currently doing a 5km challenge for Children on the Edge. I’ve had a couple of delays but I’m just so determined to do it that I’m just keeping going with it. I was even running circles in my living room to keep myself active.”
Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, cabinet member for public health, culture and leisure, said: “We would like to thank all the members of the fostering team who are taking on the challenge of the Potters Arf Marathon. We always have excellent support from staff and members for this iconic event and I can’t wait to see everyone at the finish line on race day.”
Councillor Dave Evans, cabinet member for children and young people said: “It is fantastic to see how dedicated our foster carers and staff are at promoting fostering. Our fostering team are always at some of the city’s most popular events spreading the word about fostering. The Potter’s Arf is the perfect opportunity for us to show our commitment to supporting vulnerable children and use the well-attended event to encourage potential foster carers to learn more.”
Registrations for the Hanley Economic Potters Arf Marathon are now open at www.stoke.gov.uk/pottersarf
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