Foster carers need to be aware of the climate fears of the young

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Foster carers need to be aware of the climate fears of the young

Foster care and climate change concerns

Foster parents can help children with climate anxieties

Foster carers tend to be older people with the majority being in their mid to late fifties. That means in their youth no one had heard of a climate crisis because, as far as anyone knew, there wasn’t one. And if there was, its effects had not been made manifest. My own childhood, now more years ago than I care to remember, was a halcyon time of long hot summers and freezing winters. Christmas was always magical because it snowed freezing noses, ears, knees and hands and at the same time transforming the world. Autumn, gold and moribund, with spring, green and verdant, occupied their own distinct places in the chronology of the seasons with each being reassuringly and characteristically different. The seasons shared one thing in common: they were predictable with each paving the way for its successor in recognizably subtle, liminal ways. This was a cycle of change hard wired into the collective consciousness: a rhythm as old as time shaping entire civilizations and patterns of human endeavour the world over. We have been fashioned by the quintessential and differing qualities of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. 

Human beings are, in every sense, both the product and inheritors of this enduring pattern of change: the children of the seasons. Until now. Pandora’s box has been opened changing our climate in unforeseen and disturbing ways: floods, heatwaves, and melting ice caps have made our planet feel less and less like home. The effects of such a feeling are seismic and the consequences are now making themselves felt: a recent global survey has found most sixteen to twenty-five-year-olds are frightened of having children because of the climate crisis. Half reported feeling levels of anxiety and distress over the climate that impacted their daily lives. Some even said their ability to function was impaired. For the first time children and young people around the globe – irrespective of their backgrounds – are united in this shared sense of vulnerability. For the first time in human history, there might literally be nowhere to run and wealth cannot buy peace of mind.

An unprecedented consequence. 

Compounding the fears young people have is the sense governments are doing too little and too late to stave off the impending climate catastrophe. This is translating into the unnatural response any creature inhabiting the planet can have: losing the drive to procreate. Girls, particularly, are questioning whether they should have children. 

A growing consciousness of what it is to be vulnerable.

Might there be an upside to these fears? This might seem a strange observation, but if for the first time in human history we all share this single overarching anxiety, our collective behaviour could change for the better. A shared experience of vulnerability might result in greater sensitivity for the vulnerable: especially children. And more especially, as Unicef has reported children and young people around the world are already disproportionately bearing the brunt of the climate emergency. Already 1 billion children are at “extreme risk” from the consequences of the climate crisis. The head of the UN agency described the situation as being “unimaginably dire”. One of the report’s authors, Nick Rees, points to a deep and underlying unfairness stating: “the top 10 countries that are at extremely high risk are only responsible for 0.5% of global emissions.”

The report has highlighted the fact that 920 million children are exposed to the risk of water scarcity, 820 million to extreme heat, and 600 million to diseases such as malaria. Climate change will favour pathogens jeopardising more lives. Henrietta Fore – Unicef executive director – recently said – 

“But there is still time to act. Improving children’s access to essential services can significantly increase their ability to survive these climate hazards. Unicef urges governments and businesses to listen to children and prioritise actions that protect them from impacts, while accelerating work to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The meteoric rise to the global prominence of climate activist Greta Thunberg and her influence on world leaders is a measure of the influence young people can exert. It is also vital that parents and foster carers understand just how alarmed young people are becoming. The most comprehensive study to date on climate anxiety and young people was published last month. It found six in ten youngsters were very or extremely concerned about changes to the climate. Seventy-five per cent agreed with the statement “the future is frightening.” Particularly worrying was that around fifty per cent said their levels of distress and anxiety were affecting their daily lives.

Wondering who can foster?

If you have a spare bedroom and are over 21 years of age, you could be eligible to foster if you also have the qualities and ambition to help children and young people realise their potential. Rainbow has been rated ‘Outstanding in all areas’ by Ofsted who recognised our ethos as being one that valued the difference in culture, backgrounds and life experiences of our foster parents. We accept those with a commitment to fostering – irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, gender identity, race, or religion.

You can call us on 0330 311 2845 right now to start your fostering journey. 

As a Rainbow foster carer, your earnings could be between £1.5k and £3k a month. We need applicants from #London #Birmingham #Manchester #Hampshire

As part of our community of foster carers, you will enjoy the benefits of membership with FosterTalk. This organisation provides a range of general advice and support to foster carers: one important area relates to earnings and fees. You can find out more at – https://www.fostertalk.org/foster-carer-tax/

With Covid restrictions being lessened, it’s still important to be aware of the risks coronavirus still presents. Please regularly check for the latest government advice and guidance to keep safe. 

https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus

And for an interesting blog on another fostering topic visit – 

http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/foster-carers-have-a-unique-opportunity-to-support-literacy/

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