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A COUPLE who became foster carers almost a year ago says it has given them immense pride in helping to change a young life for the better.

Jo Merrett and Carl Wiltshire became Foster Swansea carers in 2020 and ahead of Foster Care Fortnight, the couple have been speaking about their experience.

The theme of this year’s campaign, which runs from May 10 to 23 is #WhyWeCare.

Jo wanted to become a foster carer after several job experiences where she spent many years helping vulnerable people, both young and old.

Watching her aunt foster many children and seeing how many children actually needed help, sealed the deal for Jo, and when she met Carl and told him of her intention and he agreed.

Jo said:

“As soon as we were approved as foster carers, we were approached about a young person who had severe ADHD and was living in residential care. However, what this young boy really needed was a foster placement so he could flourish and develop.

“Whilst we knew that there would be challenges along the way, we were satisfied with the extra support package offered which is tailor-made depending on the young person placed with you.

“Already, we have seen many benefits and rewards to being foster carers. Seeing the huge difference in him now compared to when he first came to live with us is amazing.

“We feel proud that we have worked with him to change some of the things he found most challenging. When he says things like “I want to make you proud of me” makes us feel a huge sense of satisfaction.

“By offering placement to young people living in residential homes, you will receive a financial package that suits your personal circumstance, a phased process of meeting to moving, a generous short break plan, regular meetings to make sure everything is going smoothly, and offers of extensive support and therapy where needed.

“We would encourage other people to open their homes and their hearts to help and try to make a difference to children in need because by helping these young people, you are contributing to your whole community.”

More foster carers from all backgrounds are needed, especially those who can provide placements for sibling groups, teenagers, parent and child, and children with complex needs.

Dave Howes, Swansea Council’s Director of Social Services, said:

“We are lucky to have fantastic carers who are extremely dedicated to the children they foster. The care they give and show is fantastic so thank you to the 148 households for the continuous commitment they give to the children they foster.

“Showing the children and the young people that you actually care can be life-changing for them. Foster carers can help those children who haven’t had the best start in life, to begin enjoying their lives and believing in themselves.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about fostering is being invited to attend one of the virtual information events being organised by Foster Swansea.

On Wednesday 12 May, 1-2 pm and Wednesday 19 May, 6-7 pm the team will be hosting information events via Microsoft Teams where people can find out more information about fostering and speak to foster carers.

To book on to the event, email foster.swansea@swansea.gov.uk providing a contact name and email address. Alternatively, phone (01792) 636103 and provide this information. You will then be sent a link to the event.

For further information about becoming a foster carer, call 0300 555 0111/01792 533212 or visit www.swansea.gov.uk/fosterswansea

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