Today sees the launch of Cumbria County Council’s Fostering Friendly Churches scheme; its latest drive to recruit more foster carers for vulnerable children across the county.
Foster carers have an important role and the scheme asks local churches to help provide them with a network of support that allows them to change the lives of the children in their care.
The council also hopes that churches who sign up to the scheme will celebrate fostering and foster carers through their prayers and sermons and by participating in campaigns.
Cumbria County Council already support over 200 foster families, but with close to 700 children needing care, they are always looking for more people to join in.
The scheme launches with the support of two churches, Penrith Methodist Church in Eden and the Parish of Whitehaven, both of which are both keen to promote the message that local churches can do their bit to support children in care and to raise awareness of the urgent need for more fostering families in Cumbria.
Reverend David Milner, Superintendent Minister of Penrith Methodist Church on Wordsworth Street, said: “We’re proud to be the first church in the Eden area to support Cumbria County Council’s Fostering Friendly Church scheme which recognises the importance of foster carers and the support they provide to some of Cumbria’s most vulnerable children and young people.”
David’s sentiment is echoed by Reverend Rob Jackson, the rector of St Nicholas’ Church in Whitehaven, who alongside his wife Tracey, is also a foster carer with Cumbria County Council, for children aged under two.
Rob said: “As foster carers ourselves we are very happy that St Nicholas’ Church has become the first church in the west of Cumbria to support this initiative.
“I am a former youth worker and I’ve always loved working with children. So, as our two boys grew older and we still felt young in ourselves, we realised we wanted to give something back. That’s how the fostering came about.
“It works well for us in that we’ve been able to work from home and get our network of support at the church involved. If children are born into particularly difficult situations we want to be able to provide them with new life and new hope. God has been at the heart of all of this and now by signing up to the scheme we hope that we do even more to support children and young people in our community.”
Claire Lloyd, Fostering Service Manager at Cumbria County Council, said: “We’re delighted to welcome both of these churches into the scheme; Fostering Friendly Churches can make a huge difference to the lives of foster carers in Cumbria and the children they care for.
“I’d like to thank both churches for being the first to come on board and lend their weight to our scheme and I hope very much that other local churches will be inspired to follow suit.”
Both churches are holding fostering information sessions at their premises later this month, where those who are interested in finding out more about fostering can chat to local carers and to the fostering service team:
- Wednesday September 12 – St Nicholas’ Centre, Whitehaven – 12pm to 2pm
- Monday September 17 – The Bridge Youth Cafe, opposite PMC on Wordsworth Street, Penrith – 12 to 2pm