Last Saturday was a red letter day in our annual calendar as staff, foster carers and honoured guests gathered to celebrate our annual foster carer awards. This was a heart warming affair – it always is – as we join together to recognise the hard work, ups and downs and tenacity of our Rainbow foster carers. It is often said that no two days are ever alike in foster care. This is certainly true, so it can be imagined how eventful a single year can be in the life of our foster carers. This is why they are such a special breed. Daily life can often be highly unpredictable for foster carers. They face stresses and strains that are unique – and yet they soldier on. Despite this, what all our award winners always acknowledge is, just how unique are the rewards of putting a young lives back together. This is what foster carers do. They do it tirelessly and, it has to be said, often without much appreciation from wider society.
This is a landmark year: fostering is under the spotlight in a way it has rarely been in the past. The government is under pressure and has instigated a ‘national fostering stocktake’ which shall very shortly be reporting its findings. The burning question will be what will be done with all the information that has been garnered from foster carers, charities, social care experts and a large number of other organisations. This particular ‘can has been kicked down the road’ for far too long by governments of all hues: the social impacts of more and more children coming into care can be anticipated by what has gone before. And there was plenty of evidence that the system was creaking well before the stocktake was announced: in a UCAS report from 2013 – ‘Looked after Children & Care Leavers’ – only 6% of ‘looked after children’ and care leavers in England were found to have been in higher education. This compared to approximately 40% of the general population. This appears to be a situation that has been tolerated for a good few years before this latest inquiry. Such a finding is the true litmus test: if we had far more children leaving care and succeeding educationally, they would be creating lives far distant from scrapes with the law, or succumbing to mental health problems. These are situations that affect far too many children who have been, or who are still in the care system. The problems for society could be far greater were it not for the valiant efforts of foster carers up and down the country. We collectively need to celebrate this – the fact there are people who care for vulnerable youngsters and respond to the challenges that presents is an example for us all. And this is what our glamorous ‘Great Gatsby’ themed evening was all about! A big thanks to all our foster carers and guests who joined in and came ‘dressed to the nines’. Even if we couldn’t return to the decade of the twenties, we certainly created a “Rip Roaring’ evocation of that stylish and energetic decade!
Our awards were a celebration over one evening: an interesting point one of our honoured guests; the new President of the International Foster Care Organisation (IFCO), Danielle Douglas made in her speech was that in Ireland, they do not have tradition of such celebratory events around foster care. Experiencing the heartfelt warmth of our Rainbow celebration, she said it was something she would like to encourage there. A point for the national stocktake here – there should be a concerted effort to celebrate the work of the nation’s foster carers every day. A good starting point would be a publicly funded campaign explaining the work done by foster carers and its value to society.
We were fortunate in having the new President of IFCO in attendance. Her support for our evening was hugely appreciated. She spoke movingly and powerfully about her own experiences of being in care. Her success is the proof that foster carers can make an astonishing difference to the lives and prospects of disadvantaged children and young people. Danielle Douglas believes and is passionate about the idea that every child is a human ‘being’ and not a human ‘becoming’ – that they deserve love, stability and protection. And that the best place to provide this is within a family environment. We wish her every success in her new role as President.
Our next honoured guest was Professor (Dr.) Talk Ahmad Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi. The Vice-Chancellor spoke to us with passion about foster care in a very different context: India. This is a country of well over 20 million orphans where there is no history; or indeed understanding, of the concept of fostering. The scale of the problem is huge but steps are being taken to tackle it. The Director of Rainbow, Aijaz Ahmad, is now working in collaboration – through Rainbow International – with the university and the result has been to establish a National Resource Centre for Fostering. The goal is to create an operational template that can be used across the nation to establish foster care provision. This will entail producing educational and training programmes followed by the creation of a workable system. The knowledge and expertise of the system in the UK acquired by Aijaz Ahmad will be of incalculable value to the enterprise. What was clear in the Vice-Chancellor’s speech was that his passion, drive and dedication to the cause will be of huge significance. We wish him – and the project itself – every success as it has the potential to transform literally millions of young lives.
Back to celebrating our ‘Great Gatsby’ celebration!
Staff at Rainbow had planned the evening down to the last detail: first up, we had a soulful and moving rendition by one of our youngsters who performed a song they had written. No mean feat this, to sing with such style and ability to such a large audience – in itself a tribute to the support and dedication of her foster carers. Her prodigious talent has been developed through attendance at the musical workshop’s that are run regularly by Rainbow.
Then some of our guests cheerfully ran the gauntlet of participating in a special ‘Mr and Mrs’ competition, which was followed a version of the game ‘Play Your Cards Right’. A raffle was held which raised £250 – so a big thank you to everyone. The money will be going to a children’s charity.
The only thing that was missing from such an enjoyable and informative awards evening was dancing girls…and then, lo and behold, our very own dancing girls appeared – much to the delight and merriment of all – but there was no escape as our female foster carers who were called to the dance floor to join in with some high (and not so high kicking) dancing steps. This completed a memorable evening of style, glamour and genuine substance. All that remains is to thank all who attended – including those foster carers who could not make it. Next year, we predict standing room only – especially when everyone sees the proof of what fun was had by all. The link to photographs of the Rainbow Foster Carers Awards 2017, is being sent out to all our foster carers. And thank you again to all those who made this such a very special evening. See you all next year!
Thinking of transferring? Join Rainbow – a leading independent fostering agency
We are looking for trained foster carers who are interested in joining a caring and highly motivated foster care agency. We provide tailored support, up to date training and opportunities to further enhance and build a professional career in fostering. We are especially keen to talk to foster carers who have experience in therapeutic foster care provision.
There are considerable benefits to transferring to Rainbow Fostering – including high rates of pay – and other advantages include:
The good news at the end of this particular Rainbow…we are getting a fantastic reaction back from all those who attended our ‘Great Gatsby’ themed Foster Carer Awards 2017!
And in latest news: another foster care news story
Foster carers to receive comfort bags for children
29th November, 2017
Employees in a branch of the Nationwide in Swindon have come up with the idea of providing comfort bags for children going into foster care. This was the brainchild of the Practice manager there, Sian Briddon, who has direct experience of the ‘ups and downs’ of fostering children. Sian has provided foster care for around twenty children in recent years – she took her inspiration from an organisation in the United States called Comfort Cases. They provide bags for children, filled with essential items so they can settle more easily into their foster home (for more)