Sunday 25 February 2024
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Nottingham

New art installation helps to give Nottinghamshire foster children family roots

An art installation has gone on display in a Nottinghamshire library as part of the ongoing drive to encourage more people to consider becoming foster carers.

The vinyl image of a family tree was unveiled at a special event at Mansfield Central Library called ‘Foster for Nottinghamshire – giving local children roots’.

Nottinghamshire County Council hopes the eye-catching artwork will help to shine a light on the vital work foster carers carry out and boost its fostering recruitment campaign.

The family tree was unveiled by Cabinet Member for Children and Families, Councillor Tracey Taylor, and Ian Bond, Director of Learning at Inspire – which delivers the council’s cultural services across the county, including archives and libraries.

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They were joined by several foster carers and pupils from Sutton Road Primary and Nursery School in Mansfield, who took part in an activity to draw or write what family means to them on paper leaves which were then added to the artwork on the wall.

Cllr Taylor said: “Fostering recruitment is an all-year round campaign, but fantastic events like this, where we had engagement from schools, foster carers and support workers, bring renewed focus on our work to recruit foster carers and to let people know how important it is that we have them helping us.

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“Having the mural in the Children’s Corner in Mansfield Central Library as a focus will ensure that our fostering service and what it has to offer remains in the public eye in a prime location.

“I would like to thank staff and pupils at Sutton Road Primary and Nursery School for their engagement and it was fantastic to see how the children approached the event to support our campaign.

“It was also nice to involve our foster carers because we don’t get chance to see them and say ‘thank you’ often enough for the incredible job they do. They are also the people who, are not only supporting the children, but also telling others just what it’s like to foster and what it means to foster.”

The artwork will serve as an ongoing prompt for people to think about fostering for the county council, while library visitors are encouraged to add more paper leaves to the family tree.

Ian Bond, Director of Learning at Inspire, said: “We were delighted to host the fostering event at Mansfield Central Library and it was wonderful to see local school children and foster carers coming together.

“Libraries are a great place to learn about fostering as well being a great place for foster carers and families to visit. We have events for children and families as well courses to offer foster carers and 16+ foster children.”

Emma Severn and Joanne Skeavington, headteacher and teacher at Sutton Road Primary and Nursery School, said: “We are pleased to support this campaign to raise awareness of the need for more foster carers for Nottinghamshire children.

“A secure, stable home life is so important to help children to achieve their full potential, and the county council’s foster carers play a huge part in caring for some of our children at Sutton Road Primary and Nottinghamshire’s future generations.”

Joanne, who was among the group of foster carers who attended the event, has fostered for five years and took up caring for children after visiting an information evening at Mansfield Library.

She currently fosters two small children, having started out providing support care before moving onto baby placements.

Joanne, who has two grown up birth children, says anyone considering becoming a foster carer will get the support they need from the county council.

She said: “Nottinghamshire County Council has been very supportive. Our supervisor social worker goes out of her way to help. She’s always at the other end of the phone if I want something – even if it’s not fostering related, she’s there for us as a family.”

Zoe and her family have mainly cared for older children for eight years and she says one of the rewards of fostering is to help a young person grow in confidence and ‘do amazing things for themselves’.

She said: “We had a young person and when she came to us, she’d never been in a library before. We took her to the library at the start of one summer to do a reading challenge.

“She didn’t let go of my arm and clung onto it. She reluctantly chose some books that she pretended to read over the summer.

“However, a few years later through school, she was offered an opportunity to volunteer at a library and, off her own back really, she phoned the library, applied, did an induction, and then volunteered in the library for two whole summers helping other children with the reading challenge.

“For me, it’s a story which really encourages us that fostering can make a difference in young people’s lives and help them to gain the confidence and skills to be able to go out and do amazing things for themselves and the community.”

Amy and Mark have been caring for children for around seven years, mainly fostering young babies as well as being parents to four of their own birth children.

Amy said: “When you see a child come into your care, they may not be very happy, or they might have had troubles in the past. Then they leave your care a completely different child – and that’s why we keep doing it again and again because of the difference you make.

“We love it and there’s a massive support network around you as a foster carer. It’s not just for us or the child we are looking after, but our birth children are very involved in the activity days we do with them, and the events Nottinghamshire County Council puts on – such as Fostering’s Got Talent.

“There’s so much more than the initial support around the child – and we’ve embraced that.”

They say they get ‘so much joy’ out of fostering and are also helping to train other carers to ‘give them a real-life experience’ of what it is like caring for a foster child.

Amy said: “There’s a desperate need for more foster carers in Nottinghamshire and we’ll do anything we can to help.”

Anyone interested in fostering can get in touch with the Fostering Recruitment Team at Fostering in Nottinghamshire | Nottinghamshire County Council, by calling 0115 804 4440 or emailing fostering@nottscc.gov.uk

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