As the first church from the Kendal area signs up to Cumbria County Council’s Fostering Friendly Churches (FFC) scheme, Kendal-based pastor and foster carer, Jeff Hicks, is calling for more local churches to get involved.
Foster carers have an important role and the FFC scheme, launched in September, 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 county council supports 51 fostering households in Kendal and the South Lakes, but with close to 700 children in care across Cumbria, there is an urgent need for more people to come forward to offer safe and caring homes to local children in the south of the county.
The latest church to sign up is the Calvary South Lakes Bible Church, which meets at Staveley near Kendal. Jeff Hicks, who along with his wife Mary and their three children, Cana (18), Samaria (16) and Judah (13) have been a fostering family for nearly four years, is the Lead Pastor of the church.
The couple are approved to foster children aged one to five years old and so far have fostered five children, all boys. At the moment they have a three-year-old boy placed with them.
He says: “A concern for vulnerable children is a central part of our faith and so we are very happy both as foster carers ourselves and as a church to become part of the council’s Fostering Friendly Churches initiative.”
He adds that fostering has been a rewarding experience for the whole family: “Our children have been so amazing in the way they responded to the challenge of fostering and it has transformed us as a family and brought us even closer together, as well as transforming the lives of the children in our care.”
Claire Lloyd, Fostering Service Manager at Cumbria County Council, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Calvary South Lakes Church 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 Jeff and the members of his church for being the first in the Kendal area 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.”