Leading national voices involved in foster carer recently joined a number of major Stoke-on-Trent employers at an event to promote the recruitment of foster carers in Stoke-on-Trent.
Around 30 delegates from local businesses across public and private sectors came together to celebrate confirmation that Stoke-on-Trent City Council will be the UK’s first Fostering Friendly city at the event held at Staffordshire University’s new multi-million-pound building The Catalyst. The university was also confirmed as the latest Stoke-on-Trent based employer to become Fostering Friendly.
Fostering Friendly is a scheme created by The Fostering Network, which supports employers to implement a policy which promotes fostering and supports their foster carer employees. Stoke-on-Trent City Council is a Fostering Friendly employer and has been working hard over the last year to encourage major local employers to join in pledging support for children in care.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “Children are our number one priority and we continue daily to promote ways in which people can support us as a council in making sure children in care get access to the best opportunities. We all want children and young people in our city to have the best possible start in life, and we all – businesses, communities, organisations – have a role to play in achieving this.
“We currently have ten Fostering Friendly organisations in the city signed up to the Fostering Friendly initiative and also have several more organisations very close to being officially signed up. We have more Fostering Friendly employers in Stoke-on-Trent than any other city in UK, showing how serious we are about coming together to support our children and young people as a place. These ten employers represent approximately 13,000 employees; even if just a small percentage of these employees become foster carers, we can help change the lives of children that really need our support.”
Kevin Williams, Chief Executive at The Fostering Network who spoke in a panel at the event, said: “It has never been more important to promote foster care and the difference it makes to the lives of children and young people who need us most. We are proud to support the Fostering Friendly organisations based in Stoke-on-Trent and encourage others to join them. There are many different types of fostering and becoming a foster carer is open to people from all walks of life and backgrounds. Please get in touch with Stoke-on-Trent City Council or your local fostering service to find out more.”
Staffordshire University has become the latest Fostering Friendly organisation in the city. The university has backed the council’s ambitions by pledging its support.
Professor Martin Jones, Staffordshire University’s Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive said: “We recognise and value the enormous contribution that foster carers make to the lives of children in care. We also understand the need for flexibility at work to meet the needs of foster children, which is why we are committed to supporting colleagues who are foster carers. As a Civic University committed to enhancing quality of life in our communities, we’re also delighted that Stoke-on-Trent is being recognised as the UK’s first fostering friendly city.”
With more than 1,000 children in care across the city, the city council is urging residents to consider fostering. No matter how often a person can foster – short term, weekends or emergencies only, foster carers are immensely needed.
Councillor Dave Evans, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We want to provide loving and stable homes for children in care. Promoting fostering in new ways such as through becoming a Fostering Friendly employer and supporting our fantastic foster carers will help us do just that and support us in keeping children locally in the city.
“When is the right time to do something different? There really is no typical foster carer. Anyone can come forward and make such a big difference in a child’s life regardless of age, gender, religious or cultural background, sexual orientation or if you are married, single or divorced. If you would like to know more about becoming a foster carer in Stoke-on-Trent visit www.fostering.stoke.gov.uk or call our friendly team on 01782 234555.”
If you are a local business and are interested in becoming Fostering Friendly, get in touch with Kate.Bailey@stoke.gov.uk or Sarah.Havill@stoke.gov.uk to learn more. They will then share more detailed information about the initiative and support your HR lead to adapt your policies to align with the Fostering Friendly initiative.