Vulnerable siblings may be split up and packed off to Manchester as Blackpool Council cannot find anyone to look after them
Three vulnerable Blackpool siblings who have been bounced between four different foster homes since being taken into care in March may be split up as social services cannot find anyone to look after them.
'Abigail', five, 'Zoe', three, and 'William', two, were removed from their mother's care after their maternal grandmother raised concerns about her daughter's struggles with alcohol addiction and mental illness.*
Since then, the grandmother said, the children have been moved haphazardly from one household to another - and now face been split up as a shortage of carers means that Blackpool Council is seeking to place Abigail more than 50 miles away in Manchester.
She said: "The children need stability - not being constantly moved around. The reason I rang social services was to get the family the help they needed, but they haven't helped at all. They have just taken the children and thrown them from one place to another, and it's not stable at all.
"They said they have not got enough foster carers in Blackpool, and that they haven't got anyone who will take three children."
After being taken by social services in March, the three children were placed with their 68-year-old grandfather for a month, before being moved in with a foster couple in April.
In early October, they had to be moved into emergency accommodation with a different carer for a week, with Abigail and Zoe separated from William, after one of their foster carers suffered a heart attack.
They were then placed with a different couple, who recently became unable to look after them due to health problems.
Now the siblings face been split up for the first time in their lives as a shortage of foster carers means that Blackpool Council has been unable to find another family willing to look after three young children.
Their grandmother said: "Abigail has always been with the two babies. They have always been together. She's been there for them since day one.
"The past eight months have been horrendous for them. Abigail suffers from night terrors, and if they take her brother and sister away, that will make her worse. In her mind, she probably thinks everybody close to her is being taken away. It's like she has gone into herself. It's like she thinks she can't get close to people now, because she knows they will go away. She can't understand - she's only five.
"I can't look after them myself because I suffer from arthritis and Crohn's Disease, and I live in a tiny two-bedroom flat. I feel like the worst nana in the world. I've tried everything I can think of to get them back with their mother with support, but I feel like I'm banging my head on a brick wall."
She added that she had hoped her grandchildren's stay in care would be temporary, as her daughter is now receiving counselling for her alcholism and has been prescribed stabilising medication following a borderline personality disorder diagnosis. However, there has been talk of the children being put up for adoption.
"I think they are trying to wash their hands of them, say 'well, we can't look after them' and pack them off somewhere else," the grandmother said.
"I think it's a very poor situation when people who are there for kids' safety are not putting their wellbeing first. My grandson, when he left the first carers he was placed with, had an infection in his penis and a chest infection that he'd had for two months. He's now on antibiotics - which he should have had in the first place.
"Now there's talk of sending Abigail all the way to Manchester, where I won't be able to see her and make sure she's OK. At the end of the day, it's the kids I'm worried about.
"My daughter is devastated as well, because they are talking about putting them up for adoption. She suffers very badly with anxiety and mental health issues, and this is not helping her. It's like they are giving up on all four of them.
"If they are split up, I think Abigail's night terrors will get worse and she will end up with mental health issues of her own. The two babies won't understand either. They'll be wondering where their big sister has gone."
She added: "I would like to see them all together in a foster home and properly looked after until my daughter can be properly helped and supported, and she's well enough to get them back. The children want to go back and are constantly asking about her. If she can sort out her problems with alcohol and mental health, there's no reason why they shouldn't go back to her."
BLACKPOOL COUNCIL SAID...
"As lucky as we are to have our current group of foster carers in Blackpool, there are still many children out there in need of a foster home close to their local community and we urgently need more foster carers to look after them.
“Nationally there is a shortage of foster carers and in Blackpool we are in the same position.
“At the start of year we launched a new campaign to recruit more foster carers, in particular to enable children to remain living in the town.
“Each placement we make is an individual one in the best interests of the child. Wherever possible we do try to find placements with Blackpool and aim to keep siblings groups together but on occasions there are reasons why this isn’t possible."
Anyone who is considering fostering should visit www.blackpoolfostering.com* Names have been changed to protect the children's identities
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