Foster care will be very much in the limelight as we enter the second week of the leading foster care charity’s annual campaign. The theme for this year is #changeafuture. And at the halfway stage, The Fostering Network is sure to be pleased by the attention and focus the campaign has concentrated on foster care. It will have also made people think about the whole issue of children in care. We have had a fostering stock take and fostering was very much in the news last year. reactions to the fostering stocktake were mixed to say the least. The essential point; whatever opinions people have about foster care provision generally, is that the country faces serious shortage of foster carers. This is currently reckoned to be stubbornly fixed at around 8,000 families. The figure goes up and down, but worryingly it looks set to go on increasing.
another way of looking at the situation is that over sixty-five thousand children are currently living with around fifty-five thousand foster families in the UK every day. And this equates to nearly eighty per cent of the eighty-three thousand looked after children in care living away from home on any one day.
Last year’s campaign theme was ‘Proud to Support Fostering’ and the charity was pleased with the results, judging that millions of people had been reached. The campaign was extremely prominent in social media using the #proudtofoster and #proudtosupportfostering hashtags. The awareness campaign run by The Fostering Network in 2018 received nearly 900 pieces of coverage in the media. Apart from emphasising the need for more foster families, the annual campaign has as one of its main goals, registering appreciation for the army of dedicated foster carers that the country depends on. The Fostering Network is to be congratulated because this campaign does register with those in government. the people with the power to make a difference. In 2018, messages of support were received from – amongst other luminaries – Nadhim Zahawi, Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, England; Maree Todd, Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Scotland and Huw Irranca-Davies, Minister for Children and Social Care, Wales.
Until we have all the foster care families that we need, there is likely to be an annual campaign. As The Fostering Network says: “Every year, tens of thousands of children across the UK need foster carers while they can’t live with their own families. That means thousands of new foster carers are needed every year.”
An important goal has to be maintaining an awareness of fostering throughout the year. the Fostering Network’s campaign stirs interest and media attention – which is essential. But there are another fifty weeks in the year, and the room available at the top of the news agenda for any issue is strictly time-limited. One of the ways of keeping fostering in the mind of the public, is to focus attention on very particular people who have been fostered, adopted or gone through the care system. And these people; because of the celebrity culture we live in, need to be famous or just well known for what they do. However, they have made their mark in life, it needs to be demonstrated that being in foster care did not limit their ambitions. In life we need examples. Children coming into care are disadvantaged by definition. But if they can be inspired by the achievement and exploits of individuals who were in foster care, they too will see that ambition is the preserve of anyone irrespective of their start in life. It’s extremely common for children in care to feel stigmatised. If they have people they can call to mind, that has to be a help. And our foster carers themselves can see that when a child is in a loving, supportive environment – one which nurtures a youngster’s dreams – there is no limit to what can be achieved in life.
Everyone is in some way attracted to the story an underdog. And when a child finds – for whatever reason – that it can no longer live with its own family, we all naturally side with them. We want them to overcome the odds. We want them to succeed. It is the job of all those involved in fostering provision, to proclaim from the rooftops that it so often foster carers who make that all important difference. If we can communicate the incredible work that is achieved by foster carers to a wider public, we are sure to tempt more people into fostering.
As we go into the second week of Foster Care Fortnight, we again focus on some more ‘fostering heroes’. they are all on a list of one hundred, created by the care experienced poet Lemn Sissay:
“I have compiled this small list of 100 people from the UK who were fostered adopted or in children’s homes. I have met most of them on my travels.”
We want all foster carers to understand that by fostering, their own lives have become instant success stories. They too are heroes. They should also remember that nothing “breeds success like success” and having celebrity life examples to hold up can be inspirational to youngsters.
Care background: TV presenter & Antiques Roadshow Expert Ronnie Archer-Morgan.
There is a real poignancy about the childhood experiences of Ronnie in light of a particular episode of the BBC’s enduringly popular TV programme ‘Antiques Roadshow’. Reader’s of a certain age will recall the master puppeteer Harry Corbett and his glove puppets Sooty, Sweep and Sue. They charmed generations of children in an age that seems, at this distance, far more innocent.
Ronnie Archer-Morgan was a child growing up in care in a National Children’s Home in the nineteen-fifties. The programme itself was first screened in 1948 and is still thought to be the longest running children’s programme. For Ronnie, the show was a big part of his early life. And this can be understood when it’s known that the young Ronnie actually met Harry Corbett. This was when the famed TV presenter visited the children’s home back in 1955.
All this came to light when during an episode of Antiques Roadshow, Ronnie met a collector, Sue, who had brought the glove puppets along. The connection with her was that her father had owned these two ‘Sooty’ and ‘Sweep’ puppets. He had had a long connection with The Sooty Show as he had made props for it for twenty years. As Sue said:
“Harry Corbett had worked with my father for many years. my father had worked at an engineering firm in Guiseley (Yorkshire) and Harry asked my father if he would make the props for his Sooty show he was doing for the BBC. So my father had to decide whether to give up a job he’d a for 28 years and go in with Harry, which he did, and made his props for over 20 years.”
When he met with Sue, Ronnie became quite emotional as it brought back memories of the time he spent in the Children’s home. He said of the famous Harry Corbett –
“when he came to my home I had the privilege of him sitting next to me and he let him play with his puppets. Harry Corbett sat next to me, and he let me put these puppets on my hand. And I do often think about it, and how charmed I was to be privileged enough to the things that most inspired me, and made my world go round, Sooty and Sweep, when I was five years old.” Ronnie added –
“It meant so much to me, because that was all I had. We didn’t own toys in the home, we shared toys. This was the highlight of my life and he was such a kind man.”
Fostering an area of expertise.
Ronnie found fame as a member of the Antique Roadshow team. Aside from this, he works as an independent specialist mostly for private clients and galleries advising on finding ethnic and Tribal Art and Ethnographica. It is this particular area of expertise that he brings to the Antiques Roadshow. His most interesting find on the programme was a Fijian war club that featured in 2012 in Scarborough. This was a rare find that was valued at an impressive £35,000. If pressed to say what his own favourite item is amongst his collection, it is a fascinating late 19th century life-size portrait in oils of the 13th Dalai Lama.
He is also the Head of Tribal Art at Duke’s Auctions based in Dorchester. This is after a career that has spanned thirty years working in the antique business. In his early working life he had busied himself working as a hairdresser for advertising commercials and films. It was whilst he was doing this, that he would look around markets and local antique shops. Often he would buy the things that took his eye and would then find that his clients would offer to buy them. This activity became the basis of a new career leading ultimately yo specialist consultancy work at Sotheby’s, the renowned auction house. It was here that he broadened his knowledge advising on objects as varied as costume jewellery and wristwatches.
When Ronnie is not on the lookout for a find in the world of antiques, he devotes his time listening to music and – a real passion this – collecting records.
Could you help support the ambitions of a young person working for Rainbow Fostering?
Ronnie Archer-Morgan’s career has brought him to the national stage. In his field of expertise, he has acquired celebrity status. And no wonder as the Antiques Roadshow has pulled in an audience of some eight million viewers. To put this in context, the programme has on occasions beaten both the X Factor and Top Gear programmes for numbers of viewers. During one memorable episode, the famous presenter Fiona Bruce came to grief when trying to play a game – ‘Changing Fortunes’ – to mark the fortieth anniversary of the show. The idea was to try and guess which three items had risen in value, lost value or stayed the same. Ronnie Archer-Morgan looked on as the presenter couldn’t make a decision resorting to asking the audience for help. Sadly, their advice proved to be completely wrong, leaving the hapless Fiona embarrassed whilst Ronnie revealed the values to the assembled throng. The presenter said to the crowd: “Oh no! Okay, whose advice was that? Well, that’s it then. Useless, the lot of you!” She then turned to Ronnie saying “Ronnie, what can I say?” as he chuckled: “You got them alluring. All of them!” And lowering her head to hide her blushes, Fiona Bruce said: “Every single one!”
During another episode in Cornwall, Ronnie was asked to comment on a collection of serpentine carvings. He was instantly excited saying “These are fine examples of serpentine carvings.” He then went on to further impress the crowd with his knowledge; “You know that serpentine is the name for a group of minerals don’t you? It’s not uncommon, serpentine, but these pieces are amazing examples. Do you know why they are called serpentine? Thousands of years ago they thought the surface of it looked like the surface of a serpent.”
The owner said: I started collecting about forty years ago. First of all buying odd bits and pieces from the local turners and then auctions, junk shops.” He then revealed he owned one hundred and eighty pieces in total. Ronnie was startled to hear this saying “Let’s get down to value. I think on this table we’ve got £2,000 to £3,000. But if you’ve got 170 pieces, that’s something like…” The owner said they were not all of the same quality. Ronnie said the value from what he had been told could still be as much as £10,000 to £12,000. The crowd laughed as the owner took a step back saying: “is it really, Don’t tell my wife will you please? This drew the following response from one viewer: “Don’t tell the wife on national tv”.
In this Foster Care Fortnight, you will hopefully have been inspired by another care experienced individual’s life story. This time, it’s Ronnie Archer-Morgan’s journey from a care home in Yorkshire all the way to displaying his considerable expertise and presentational skills to a national audience. No mean feat!
Find out more about Ronnie and antiques that interest him at https://www.justcollecting.com/antiques/ronnie-archer-morgan-appraiser-antiques-roadshow
Foster an interest or hobby.
Today, more children than ever before are coming into care, most of them rely on foster carers. And what all the life stories we have featured so far during Foster Care Fortnight have in common, is there was a passion, an interest that ended up driving that life journey. What was crucial was for this to be supported, encouraged and nurtured. In playing our part in adding to the profile of Foster Care Fortnight, we want to register our thanks for the incredible work done by foster carers up and down the land. Perhaps the biggest contribution, foster carers can make is to see where a particular child might have an interest and encourage it. Often it takes quite a few goes as childhood is all about exploration and trying out new things. But if that spark of what could be a lifelong passionate interest is glimpsed, then; as a foster carer, that’s your green light. At Rainbow fostering, we will then do everything we can to help you to support and nurture that child or young person’s enthusiasm. We run music workshops, support trips to galleries and run competitions aimed at helping children find their talents.
Fostering career options we offer.
The first thing to say is that there are many different types of foster care. You could, for example, be specially trained to look after a parent and child in your home. There is also currently a serious lack of foster homes available for teenagers and sibling groups. A couple of points about sibling groups always worth stressing: If you foster a sibling group, it’s almost like acquiring an instant family. And something that is particularly rewarding: you will have the knowledge that it is you who are enabling siblings to keep their relationships intact.
What you can expect.
All our foster carers will be trained to care for children between the ages of 0 to 18. It’s important to stress that we understand you may have your own preferences for fostering. This can be in relation to age, gender and cultural background. You’d be surprised how people’s preferences can change if they have experience of a child or young person outside their preferences. A good example of this is where our foster carers have taken in asylum seeking children.
We know that there are many options to consider, but this is what makes fostering interesting. You can be assured that in our matching process we will always work hard to respect your preferences. Rainbow foster carers can relax because they are supported 24 hours a day all year round. And one of the reasons, particularly that we are rated as an Outstanding agency by Ofsted, are the efforts we make toward supporting our foster carers.
More and more children are coming into care with complex needs. Very sadly, many have experienced turbulence at home and sometimes different forms of abuse or neglect. Such children can arrive in care traumatised as a result of their experiences. This means they need a very special type of fostering support. On our website, you’ll see that is a section on therapeutic fostering. Foster carers providing this service will have been specially trained to support children being treated on therapeutic care recovery programmes. It is possible for therapeutic foster carers to earn up to £40k per annum.
Rainbow Fostering Services is urgently looking for new foster carers in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Hampshire – as well as the South Coast.
Take those all-important first steps of your fostering journey by simply ringing our Head Office on 020 8427 3355. Alternatively, our recruitment team will be pleased to receive your call using our National Line 0330 311 2845. Remember, it is also possible for you to easily find out more about what fostering involves by registering your details in on our website. You can then arrange for us to call when it’s convenient for you. We always recommend that people take a look at some of our web site pages that have specific relevance for fostering generally and then therapeutic fostering:
http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/becoming-a-foster-carer/ and if you would like to discover more about becoming a therapeutic fostering visit http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/therapeutic-foster-carer/