A couple who have cared for foster children for almost a decade are urging others to follow in their footsteps.
Ann and Stan Hill, from Marton, first signed up to be foster parents more than nine years ago, inspired by a relative - as well as their own ‘boredom’ after taking early retirement and their own children having long flown the nest.
Since then, one family of four siblings has lived with them constantly, as well as tens of other children on short term stays.
And with Blackpool Council’s latest monthly fostering drop-in event taking place tomorrow, at the Solaris Centre, New South Promenade, 10am to noon and 5.30pm to 7.30pm, the Hills say there’s nothing to be afraid of in signing up.
“People often have the wrong impression of why children go into foster care,” Ann said. “It can be just that something has happened like losing a parent and not having back up or support from other relatives, or that, perhaps, mum is in hospital and there’s no one else to help.
“It’s sad that all foster situations are tarred with the same brush.”
The Hills admit they’ve been lucky and have had no major problems with the children they’ve cared for over the years - although they do say there have been challenges along the way, but these are soon tackled with the support of the council’s foster team.
Stan said: “Support is only a phone call away, and it’s second to none.
“Every course you go on you get something from it - whether from the course itself or from speaking to other foster carers. It’s like a family within a family. We have had friends take up fostering; they have seen us, seen what we do and still gone for it. You’ve got nothing to lose by finding out a bit more.”
And he added: “People don’t realised what you can get out of it. I’m not saying we’ve never had problems with the children, there are children with problems in the system whether that’s learning difficulties or physical issues - that’s still not their fault. “All you can do is give them quality of life.”
The council’s foster team welcomes those interested in fostering to their drop-in sessions, where they can find out more about the process.
Applicants can live anywhere within easy travelling distance of the Fylde Coast and not just in Blackpool.
Coun Ivan Taylor, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We’ve been doing a huge amount to try to promote fostering and we’ve seen a significant increase in interest but we still need more people to come forward.”
Visit www.blackpool.gov.uk/fostering or call (01253) 477888.