Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Change a life and Foster4Yorkshire

Issued on behalf of Foster4Yorkshire

People in West Yorkshire will have the opportunity to find out about the positive impact of foster caring at two information events to be held in Leeds and Ainley Top during Foster Care Fortnight (12-25 May).

The informal drop-in events, which are being hosted by a joint council-led initiative, Foster4Yorkshire, are open to anyone in West Yorkshire who is interested in foster caring. People will be able to gain a valuable insight into the vital role by meeting existing local foster families and recruitment teams from West Yorkshire’s five local authorities.

With a shortage of at least 8,600 foster families nationally more people are urgently needed to meet the ever-increasing demand. Foster4Yorkshire is hoping that these events will inspire more people to foster with their local authority and help make a difference to some of society’s most vulnerable children.

Paul Johnson from Foster4Yorkshire said,
“The number of children coming into foster care in West Yorkshire has risen in recent years to around 2,100. This trend, which is mirrored nationally, is set to continue and we now urgently need 235 new foster families during 2014-15 to help meet the needs of children and young people in our care.

“Foster carers do a remarkable job, helping to protect, support and care for some of our most disadvantaged children and young people. Recruiting a diverse range of people with the right skills and qualities remains one of our biggest challenges; without enough local foster families, children face living far away from everything they know - their family, friends and school - and in some cases, being separated from their siblings. Fostering for a local authority helps ensure that these children are fostered in their home town or city, cementing links with their local community and providing stability at a time of immense change."

Full-time foster carer, Shaune Teasdale, 38, and his partner, Daniel Lee, 32, have opened up their hearts and home to some of the city’s most vulnerable children.

The couple always knew they wanted to raise children in their north Leeds home and fostering was just one option they considered. Within months of attending an information event via Leeds City Council they were approved as short-term foster carers in 2012.

Two years on and the couple has looked after five children of varying ages, including a five-year old boy who came to them initially on a short-term basis, but will now live with them for the duration of his childhood.
Shaune says: “Short-term fostering really appealed to us because it gave us the opportunity to help a range of children. Our first placement was a little boy who we bonded with immediately. He quickly turned into a confident, inquisitive child and he became a huge part of our lives.

“After a year this developed into a longer-term arrangement and he’ll now stay with us until he’s an adult. This was a big decision for us but we knew it was the best outcome all round and we couldn’t be happier.

“We still look after children on a short-term basis. Combining long and short-term fostering has created a perfect family balance for us and we really feel we’ve got the best of both worlds. Leeds City Council has also been extremely thorough in ensuring that any new children we look after fit in with our circumstances.

“Fostering is about so much more than providing a child with food and shelter; it’s about working together with social workers, schools and often, birth parents, to do what’s best for that child. You become part of their world and you’re there for them when they need you most.

“One foster child who’d been with us for just eight weeks told me that I was the closest thing he’d ever had to a dad. Another child, in just two weeks, went from not eating or sleeping and having anger issues, to eating regular meals and sleeping through the night. This alone helped him to overcome any emotional problems. Knowing that you can make a real difference to a child is the best thing about being a foster carer and is hugely rewarding.

“We’d believed that being a same sex couple might hinder our chances of becoming foster carers, but far from being a barrier, we were encouraged to apply. I’d say to anyone who thinks that their circumstances might hold them back to come along to one of the Foster4Yorkshire events. Like us you might be surprised to find that fostering is the perfect role for you.”

Paul Johnson added: “It goes without saying that all children deserve the best possible start in life but it’s a sad reality that many coming into care have experienced things that no child should ever have to. However we’ve seen time and again the transformation in them once placed within a stable, loving environment and we are now calling on people during Foster Care Fortnight to come along to one of our information events to find out more.

“Foster carers come from all walks of life. Don’t discount yourself because of your age or living arrangements. It's your experience and outlook on life that's most important,and we are looking for people who can help make a real, positive difference to a child. Although challenging and exhausting at times, most of our foster carers say that it is the most fun, satisfying and worthwhile job they’ve ever done.

“The need for more foster carers has never been more critical and we desperately need more long and short-term foster carers for babies, toddlers, young children, teenagers and sibling groups of various ages and abilities.”

The information events take place:
Sunday 18th May - 12pm to 4pm -Village Urban Resort Leeds, Capitol Blvd, Tingley, Leeds, LS27 0TS
Wednesday 21st May – 4pm to 8pm – Cedar Court Hotel Huddersfield, Ainley Top, HD3 3RH

ENDS


*** MEDIA OPPORTUNITY –You are invited to send a reporter/photographer/camera crew to Village Urban Resort Leeds, Capitol Blvd, Tingley, LS27 0TS on Sunday 18th May between 12pm and 2pm. Foster carers from across West Yorkshire will be available for media interviews at the event. Shaune Teasdale and Paul Johnson will also be available for media interviews prior to the 18th May.

To arrange an interview before 18th May or for further information please contact Emma Whittell (Leeds City Council - Senior Communication Officer) on
Tel: 0113 2474713.
On 17th and18th May contact Karen Jones on Tel: 07528 252284.

Notes to editors
1. Foster Care Fortnight 2014 runs between 12-25 May and is an annual, national campaign, aimed at raising awareness about fostering.
2. Established in 2013, Foster4Yorkshire is made up of representatives from each of West Yorkshire’s five local authority fostering teams, in Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield. In the year since it was formed, Foster4Yorkshire has been able to share ideas and resources, as well as reach out to more families to break down some of the barriers to fostering. For further information about Foster4Yorkshire visit: www.foster4yorkshire.org
3. To speak to someone from LeedsCouncil’s fostering team, please contact T:0113 2477443 or visit: www.foster4leeds.co.uk
4. Local authorities in West Yorkshire are aiming to recruit 235 new foster families during 2014-15. Figures for each local authority are broken downas follows:
Leeds: 80
Bradford: 50
Calderdale: 30
Kirklees : 35
Wakefield: 40
5. Carers who foster with their local council look after children on a regular basis and continually develop and utilise their skills and expertise with a range of training and support. They are supported by dedicated teams of experts and can join a network of carers across their local area all working to improve the lives of vulnerable children and young people.
6. Foster carers come from all ages and backgrounds:
• Single – male or female, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, married or living as a couple
• Divorced or widowed
• With or without children
• Any religious faith or none at all
• Any cultural background
• Homeowners or renting
• Employed, retired or on benefits
• With or without professional childcare experience
• With or without qualifications

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




Council gets dirty with youtube videos


The council is getting dirty in a new series of short films about composting at home.

Avid gardeners have been getting their hands mucky to show people how to make compost. New videos will be posted during international compost awareness week, which runs from 5 to 11 May.

Allotment holders from Headingley Station West allotments are the stars of the films, the first of which is now live on the council’s youtube channel.

The short clips guide people through the process making compost in five easy steps, including siting a composter, feeding it, turning the compost, and how to use it.

Anyone with outside space can have a go at composting and to help, the council offers cut-price compost bins.

Composting fruit and veggie peelings, grass cuttings, egg shells, shredded paper, tea bags and even the contents of you vacuum cleaner, can significantly reduce the amount of household waste that goes to landfill.

The resulting compost can be used on veggie plots, flower beds, patio planters, hanging baskets and window boxes.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:


“Composting isn’t just for those who want to grow award winning fruit and veg. Anyone with outside space can have a go and use the compost as a soil conditioner to really make plants bloom.

“It’s an ideal way to help cut the amount of waste we send to landfill alongside the services we provide to help people reduce, re-use and recycle.”

Melvyn Nowland, an allotment holder at Station West allotments at Headingley, said:

“I’ve been composting since I was five. It’s easy and very satisfying to be producing and using your own compost. You have something that’s top quality and you save a lot of money – and I mean a lot. If you haven’t tried it, you should really give it a go.”

Compost bins can be ordered from www.leeds.getcomposting.com/ or by calling 0844 571 4444.

More information about composting and the buy one, get one half price offer on composters can be found at www.leeds.gov.uk/compost

The short films can be found by clicking on the youtube link at www.leeds.gov.uk

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577
email: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk


ENDS