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Foster carers enjoy walking with alpacas during Foster Care Fortnight

Terry and Emma

During Foster Care Fortnight Cumbria County Council are happy to announce that local business, Alpacaly Ever After, based on the Lingholm Estate near Keswick, is offering a 30 per cent discount on all of its activities to members of fostering households.

Run by Terry Barlow and Emma Smalley, Alpacaly Ever After, offers a ‘walking with alpacas’ experience to visitors to the Lakes. Emma said: “We are a social enterprise so we are very keen that foster children, foster families and children in residential care homes can access the calming and therapeutic benefits of these unusual and wonderful animals.”

Earlier this week during Foster Care Fortnight,which runs until May 27, two of the county council’s foster care families from Cumbria attended the launch of the discount scheme and experienced first-hand the benefits of getting close to the alapcas, a South American animal similar to llamas.

Tanya Pears and family

Tanya Pears has fostered for Cumbria County Council for three and a half years and has seen around 20 children pass through her home.  Tanya, who attended the launch event with her children Phoenix, 13, and son Kieran, seven, said: “It’s been an incredible experience – very relaxing and the environment is superb. It has been wonderful to see the reactions of the children as they interact with these lovely animals. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.”

She noted that the Alpaca experience is a great thing for foster carers to do with children new to their families, explaining: “Unlike some family activities there’s no skill level required. Everyone is a novice together, which makes it really inclusive and ideal for fostering families.”

Christine Mason

Foster carers Rob and Christine Mason from Penrith attended the event with the brother and sister, aged nine and 13, who they have been looking after since being approved to foster nearly two years ago. The children live with the couple on a permanent placement and all four enjoyed doing the alpaca walk together. Christine said: “It was absolutely fabulous! We are already planning to come back again and can’t wait to spend more time with the alpacas.”

Andy Hobday, a team manager in Fostering and Adoption at Cumbria County Council, who was instrumental in setting up the partnership between the council’s Fostering Service and the team at Alpacaly Ever After, after doing an alpaca walk on his birthday, said: “Walking with these magical animals is truly relaxing as they are so gentle and calming. The whole experience is very soothing for a troubled soul and could be a very therapeutic activity for foster families with children of all ages.

“We are incredibly grateful to Emma and Terry of Alpacaly Ever After for offering our foster carers such a generous discount. We are confident many of our families will benefit tremendously both emotionally and physically from the experience of interacting with their wonderful alpacas.”

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