A Croydon foster carer with more than 10 years’ experience looking after children was honoured with an award at a ceremony attended by the Duchess of Cambridge last night.
Richard Dickson was presented with the prestigious President’s Award at The Fostering Network’s annual Fostering Excellence ceremony hosted by television star Holly Willoughby in central London.
Richard’s accolade is in acknowledgment of his tremendous services to fostered children, particularly unaccompanied refugees from countries such as North Korea, Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, and the Congolese republics.
Richard said, “Despite the many challenges I think they are all outweighed by the positive outcomes we see these young people achieve time after time.
“It’s been fantastic to help some of them become more confident and independent in a new country, where they have often gone on to achieve academically and be offered university places.”
While many of these children and young people have showed huge bravery and potential there have been a variety of common hurdles to overcome, including language barriers and cultural, and religious differences.
Some presented a range of behavioural challenges and there has been the ongoing process of managing long applications for asylum and regular Home Office interviews.
Croydon Council is always looking for new foster parents to recruit and support, and over the last year Richard has been a mentor for new carers and has recently started supporting them to complete their Training Support and Development Standards.
He has also been chosen to co-train on a safer caring course for male foster carers and has also been an education champion for London Fostering Achievement.
Jim Bond MBE, president of The Fostering Network, said: “Richard is more than a foster carer – he is an advocate for all children and young people.
“His absolute empathy for those he cares for, combined with his tireless enthusiasm for justice and his positive attitude, are what makes him exceptional.
“I know that all who have worked with him at The Fostering Network have seen the tremendous value and support that he brings to those who enter his home and that is why I am humbled to be awarding this year’s President’s Award to Richard.”
Croydon’s cabinet member for children, families and learning, Councillor Alisa Flemming, said, “I’m absolutely delighted for Richard and extremely proud that he has developed his skills while looking after children in Croydon.
“It’s fantastic that he is now sharing his experience with others, and I hope this news will encourage more people to come forward and explore this rewarding career opportunity.”
For more information on becoming a foster carer visit www.croydon.gov.uk/fostering