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13 May 2013, 12:35
Esther Rantzen, EastEnders actress Kacey Ainsworth and 80s pop star Kim Wilde are among the celebrities backing a new campaign to find foster carers in Hertfordshire.
Hertfordshire County Council want to recruit at least 80 more foster carers during Foster Care Fortnight, to "provide vital care and support for some of the county’s most deprived and neglected children and young people."
The campaign is part of the annual national drive to encourage more people to think about fostering. Local celebrities with a connection to Hertfordshire stepped up in support of the campaign to find more people who are willing to welcome children and young people into their family – whether for a short time or longer term until they reach adulthood.
Esther Rantzen, journalist, presenter and children’s campaigner, was born in Berkhamsted. She said in support of Hertfordshire County Council's 'Get In The Frame' campaign: "Over the years I have met a lot of foster carers and I absolutely know from talking to young people that it transforms lives and gives love and security, often for the first time in their lives. I cannot emphasise enough how much difference it makes to a child's life. I personally know a couple who have fostered for many years and have seen how much it has enriched their lives in terms of emotional reward. It is not always easy but it certainly is rewarding."
Actress and Hertfordshire resident Kacey Ainsworth, who played Little Mo in EastEnders, was keen to offer support as her mother previously fostered. She met some of Hertfordshire's foster carers and said: "If you were thinking about a way to make a genuine and positive difference to the world, you should look at fostering. There are children in our area who desperately need stability and, above all, unconditional love in their lives - could you help them to have that?"
Diane Louise Jordan, BBC Songs of Praise presenter and former Blue Peter presenter, grew up in Hatfield and said: “All children need security - the security of being known and loved by at least one special person, in the context of the family home.
“That's why I believe fostering is an invaluable option for the 9,000 plus children in the UK who sadly, whether permanently or for limited periods of time, are unable to live with their birth parents. No matter how well run a care home is, it can't offer a child the personal, consistent warmth of a family.
“I personally feel extremely blessed to have known the constant love of a parent. In fact my parents, Harold and Norma, are the people who've inspired me most in my life because their steadfast, unconditional love has given me the self assurance and confidence to pursue and realise my dreams. I feel privileged to have been loved so well, and it's my desire for every child to be loved well.
“So if you're even thinking about fostering I encourage you to really consider it. Just ask any child in care (or any adult who's been through the care system) and I'm sure they'll tell you the thing they probably want most is to be part of a family.”
Kim Wilde, TV presenter, popstar and local resident, said: “At a time when the most vulnerable children in society are at risk of exposure to real danger and are already subject to significant upheaval, the acute shortage of local foster carers is brought into sharp focus. If you are keen to help a Hertfordshire child in need of a foster home, then perhaps the idea of sharing a more positive and inspiring influence to those less fortunate is worth more than a thought.”
Lord Salisbury, who lives at Hatfield House and is currently the Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, said: “I am delighted to express my strong support for the “Get in the Frame” campaign. All children benefit from being part of a family, with all that happy family life brings with it. I am so pleased that Hertfordshire County Council is promoting its campaign designed to help the many children in care in Hertfordshire experience what most children take for granted. I do wish the campaign well and greatly admire the foster parents who agree to take part in what is a very worthwhile process.”
Martine Wright, who represented Great Britain at the 2012 Paralympic Games and survived the 2005 London bombings, is a Hertfordshire resident. She said: “It is vital that we all play our part in creating the world we wish to live in. Every child deserves the right start in life, and our community of foster carers create stability and safety where vulnerability and uncertainty exists. Please sign up and help to improve the opportunity for those less fortunate than we are."
The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith, spoke in support of the campaign: “Most of us take for granted the love and support we received when we were growing up. Sadly, some young people are not so fortunate. Foster carers undertake a vital task in our society by giving stable homes to young people for whom life has not worked out well. Could you offer a home and give a young person a fresh start?
“Fostering is always challenging and yet I know that it can also be immensely rewarding, both for the carers and for the young people themselves.”
Hertfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Richard Roberts, said: “It is really important that we find local foster carers for Hertfordshire children, so that they can retain strong links with their schools and networks of friends wherever possible. If you would like to make a big difference to a child's life and take up the challenge of fostering, please come forward.
"We need foster carers across Hertfordshire who are passionate about making a difference to the lives of children and young people of all ages. Foster carers must have at least one spare bedroom in their home. In return, our carers are supported by supervising social workers and have ongoing training and support groups to attend."
People who think they could inspire a child or young person and would love to know more about fostering are asked to call 0800 917 0925 or visit www.hertsdirect.org/fostering