Croydon fostering service has announced an initiative to find 30 new foster families for young people this year, focusing on teenagers, sibling groups, children with disabilities and unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
Croydon has a diverse range of children and young people who need fostering, partly because they take in a lot of UASCs – unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, who are processed at Lunar House, Croydon which is the UK’s Visa and Immigration Centre.
Foster parent Safia Basith, 51, worked as a primary teacher before becoming a foster parent and she’s looked after more then 25 children, including three young people during lockdown.
Safia said: “I think foster carers change lives.
“When lockdown happened the whole country was sort of in mourning. The atmosphere was one of great sadness and fear, but I felt that I’d really prepared my young people because we’d watched the lockdown in China.
“We listened to Boris Johnson announce the lockdown and the young people were really happy that there was no college or school. Then they slowly they realised the reality of the situation.
“Within almost a week they started getting quite restless and the reality of being locked in hit them.
“If we think about the children who come into care, they’re vulnerable children, they’ve not had easy lives. The reason for them coming into care is that things were not right for them.
“I think it started impacting their mental health, as even daily walks were quite restrictive.
“All the difficulties they’ve had make foster children even more vulnerable and generally, the lockdown had a huge negative impact on young people.
“On the positive side, children couldn’t just walk out of the house as teenagers do. We were spending a lot of time together cooking, doing housework and home schooling. It tightened the family unit.
“There are a large number of children coming in to the system from diverse backgrounds and we just don’t have enough carers to meet the need.
“I would encourage anyone who’s even just thought of being a carer to pick up the phone or email and attend one of the information sessions.
“Fostering must just be the thing for you, as it is for me and my family. There is support available and I feel so fulfilled.”
For anyone interested in becoming a foster carer, Croydon fostering team is running online information sessions on Thursday 6th May at 6pm and Tuesday 18th May at 11am.
To register, or enquire about fostering call 0300 222 2112 or email [email protected]