Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Gay and Lesbian people invited to discover more about fostering and adoption

Leeds City Council has organised a special open day to help gay and lesbian people learn more about fostering and adoption.

The open day, which is being held on Tuesday 5 March, 7pm to 8.30pm at South Leeds City Learning Centre, Gipsy Lane, follows a successful first open day last year which resulted in a good number of enquiries and some successful applicants who are now fostering and some who have been approved to adopt.

The open day will allow people who are considering becoming a foster carer or adopter to meet experts from Leeds City Council’s fostering and adoption teams. They will be able to find out more about the assessment process, what types of children the council is currently looking for homes for, and what requirements are needed. There will also be the opportunity to meet a gay foster carer and a gay adopter who will talk about what being a foster carer or adopter is really like.

The open day is being held to coincide with the national LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week, which runs from 4 to 10 March 2013, and is organised by New Family Social.

At a time when adoption figures are at a ten year low, a new study shows lesbian and gay people often have the right mix of skills and experience to raise children who have been in care, and give them a great new start in life.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
"Over the years, our lesbian and gay foster carers and adopters have made a tremendous contribution towards helping the city provide supportive homes for children and young people. We welcome more applications from all potential foster carers and adopters regardless of their sexuality, religion or marital status. The main thing is that you are able to give children and young people the care and support they need to be happy and fulfilled.”

Leeds City Council sees lesbian and gay people as having a key role to play in meeting the urgent need for more new homes for children in care.

There is no such thing as a typical foster carer or adopter – they can be single, married, divorced, employed, unemployed, with or without children of their own. People from diverse backgrounds and all ethnic origins are needed to help children benefit from living with families who share their own culture, language and religion.

The council’s fostering service provides a comprehensive range of training and support for its foster carers, including weekly fees and allowances.

LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week is a series of events around the country aimed to educate prospective parents and carers about the processes involved and to let them hear from others in their area who have adopted or fostered children themselves. It is organised by New Family Social, the charity run by LGBT adopters and foster carers for families and families-to-be.

Andy Leary-May, Director of New Family Social, says:
“Some people are still put off by fears that they won’t be welcomed by agencies, but things are changing. In our group we have huge and diverse range of families, including plenty of parents who are single, or in their fifties. It’s clear to see how well our children are doing, and what a positive and rewarding choice fostering and adoption can be”.

To find out more about fostering for Leeds City Council visit: www.foster4leeds.co.uk or ring us on 0113 24 77 44 3

To find out more about adopting with Leeds City Council visit: www.adopt4leeds.gov.uk

To find out more about New Family Social visit: www.newfamilysocial.co.uk

Case study
Shaune Teasdale and Daniel Lee were approved as foster carers for Leeds City Council in September 2012. They attended the first open day last year.

Shaune says: “We came to the decision we wanted to foster a while ago, when I was made redundant, but were concerned as a gay couple we might not be able to. We came along to the open day last year and came away reassured and more determined than ever! The open day showed us the reality of being a foster carer – it didn’t just focus on the positives but it didn’t put us off.

“We realised it was the right time for us, because I’d enough of being career-minded and wanted to give something back, and make a difference.

“I was expecting the assessment process to be more intimidating, the open day made it sound quite scary, but the lady who assessed us made us feel at ease – it was like chatting to a friend. She asked a lot of questions, but they were all relevant so we didn’t mind answering them.

“I’d recommend fostering to anyone who’s thinking about it, it is the most rewarding thing we’ve ever done. There are the tantrums to deal with but the hugs make it worth it.”

To arrange an interview with Shaune and Daniel please contact Leeds City Council press office below.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk

Council’s graduates win top prize at national competition

Officers on the council’s graduate programme have come first in the Young Local Authority of the Year competition with their arguments around complexity theory.

The eighth annual competition was held at the University of Lancaster last week (Tuesday 19
February – Wednesday 20 February) with 29 teams from a wide range of occupations and backgrounds taking part.

Clare Poolman and Sam Facer, who were both recruited to Leeds City Council from local universities last summer in the first ever cross-council graduate recruitment programme, volunteered for the opportunity earlier in the year.

As part of the competition the team have to give a six minute presentation and then answer questions from the judging panel. Then in a more informal session the team asks itself a question on any topic and then has to discuss this for two minutes with no notes.

Their presentation “Between birds & bicycles; Why local government must embrace complexity” argued that organisations should recognise that systems are not mechanical and that societal problems are not easy to fix - we need to listen and experiment to move forward.

Clare, said:

“The competition was a brilliant opportunity to share our ideas with future leaders of local government from across the UK. I feel privileged to be able to build on the thinking Leeds City Council has already begun with the Commission on the Future of Local Government.

Sam said:

“We are pleased to have won the competition after putting a lot of hard work into our presentation. Being on the graduate programme at the council has offered us a wide range of opportunities.”

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:

“It is great to see officers in their early careers in local government getting involved in national debates and competitions. Congratulations to both Clare and Sam for winning this national competition, it is a great result.”

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council said:

"It is a testament to the quality of people we are attracting to Leeds that two of our officers on the graduate programme have come away with this outstanding result.

Their arguments were very compelling, and as an authority we are extremely proud of them for winning.

"We have taken in eight other graduates, as well as Clare and Sam, since last summer as part of a drive to make the workforce of the council more diverse. The programme offers graduates wishing to pursue a career in local government an insight into how the council works and makes a positive impact with the communities of Leeds."

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450
Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk