Keep children within their communities: more foster carers are needed in Southampton

Too often, due to a lack of locally based foster carers, children are placed with foster families away from their communities, and sibling groups are sometimes separated

Fostering Southampton - Making a difference

This warning comes from the UK’s leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network and is echoed by Southampton City Council’s Fostering Service.

This issue is highlighted during Foster Care Fortnight (9-22 May), the charity’s annual awareness raising campaign, as they call for more people to come forward to foster, to ensure that children who need to come in to care can be cared for locally.

Currently, there are over 400 Southampton children living with foster families. More than half of these children have to live with fostering families outside of the city. The number of children coming into care unfortunately continues to rise.

More fostering households from the city and surrounding areas are needed for Southampton City Council to make sure every Southampton child that can’t live with their own family gets the care they need and are well supported within their community.

Some foster families look after children on a short-term basis while for other children, fostering offers them a secure, long-term home to thrive. Foster carers in Southampton provide support and care and enable children to stay in their local community with everything that is familiar to them. This minimises further disruption to their lives by helping them stay in their school, close to their friends, and maintain connections with other family members, where appropriate. Foster carers who can support older children and teenagers are particularly needed in the city to enable these young people to stay close to family connections, friendship groups and their school during these vital years.

This year’s theme for Foster Care Fortnight celebrates fostering communities and local foster carer Gail shares her experiences of being part of the Southampton fostering community:

“We have felt supported by the whole fostering team at Southampton City Council throughout the nine years we have been fostering. There are a number of groups available for advice and friendship, I’ve made many friends at coffee mornings and received invaluable guidance from structured therapeutic group sessions. As a fostering family we’ve enjoyed many events throughout the year including parties, discos, BBQs, bike rides and weekends at a holiday park, to name a few!”

Andy who has been fostering with Southampton City Council for eight years has reflected on the support which has been even more vital during the pandemic:

“The pandemic enabled us to find inner strength and resilience and created an unbreakable bond across our fostering community. It also gave us valuable time with our looked after child to feel connected in a way that normal life could never allow.”

Robert Henderson, Executive Director Wellbeing (Children and Learning) at Southampton City Council, said: “We know Southampton is a kind and caring city – and our fostering community is a great example of this, looking after some of the city’s most vulnerable children.

“Our foster carers make a hugely positive contribution to the lives of children in the city, and we can’t thank them enough. The strength and resilience they have shown throughout the difficulties of the pandemic through their continued support of each other is second to none. They have enabled children to thrive in a local, familiar and safe setting and given them opportunities to interact and bond with each other, whilst providing a steady base for them to really develop and grow.”

Southampton City Council urgently need more people to join our Southampton fostering community, we welcome everyone who wants to make a difference to a child’s life. Whether it’s for a weekend, a week, a month or a childhood there are children in our city who need your help. No matter your age (you must be 21+), gender, relationship status or sexual orientation or if you have a disability, we welcome your interest in fostering.

Please do get in touch with our friendly fostering team, or pop along to one of our information events to find out more about starting your fostering journey.

The Southampton City Council fostering team will be hosting a virtual event on Wednesday 25 May at 6:30pm where you can chat to the team and current foster carers to find out more about the process and applying. Reserve your place by calling 0800 5 19 18 18, or email Visit our fostering pages to find out more.