OVER the last two years, families across the country have been hit hard by the impact of the pandemic.

With people not able to see loved ones, schools being closed and lines of support difficult to access, communities across Wales have found other ways to support one another during these most testing of times. This is even more true for fostering families.

Many have used this difficult period as an opportunity to create an altogether more positive ‘new normal’ – not only in their lives but in the lives of local children. According to Foster Wales, over 350 families in Wales started fostering with their local authority during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This Foster Care Fortnight (9-22 May,) Foster Wales wants to celebrate the difference that foster carers have made to children’s lives in Wrexham County Borough Council. From foster carers who have shown dedication over many years to those just starting their fostering journey to help give children a better future.

Foster Care Fortnight is the UK’s biggest foster care awareness raising campaign, delivered by leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network. This year’s theme is ‘fostering communities’ and the campaign will focus on the commitment, passion and dedication of foster carers.

It hopes to shine a light on the many ways people in the fostering community have supported each other during the Covid-19 pandemic – and to highlight the need for more dedicated foster carers.

Alastair Cope, Head of Foster Wales, the national network of local authority fostering services said:

“Most people don’t realise that it’s your local authority, your local council, who take care of children when their family are experiencing difficulties or when children are living with abusive and neglectful situations, and it’s your local authority who finds them a safe place and is responsible for them.

“There is a wealth of knowledge in the Foster Wales local authority fostering team and dedicated social workers who all work together with local families and local schools to build better futures for local children.

“By fostering locally, you are helping children to stay in their community, with the surroundings, accent, school, language, friends and activities they know. It keeps them connected, builds stability and confidence.

“We’d encourage people not just to foster, but to foster with their local authority, which is part of Foster Wales, a not-for-profit organisation responsible for the children in our care.”

Two of our foster carers who decided to open up their hearts and home to care for children and young people in the last 12 months are Kate & Lisa

Kate & Lisa became a foster carers with Foster Wales Wrexham in August 2021.

We started our application to Foster in 2019 and progressed with our training throughout lockdown. We met with others on teams and became foster carers in 2021.

We wanted to support more children in our family as we were not able to risk having more of our own due to health concerns.

We have supported 2 children since we started, making us a team of 6.

We went out and bought a 7 seater the day after they arrived for 400 quid. We call it the bus and we use it for all our trips out together. It was a game changer.

It has been a steep learning curve for us, a juggling act. Exactly as we anticipated. The rewards are great and endless. To see the children grow in confidence and self-esteem has been a humbling experience for both of us.

Support from our SSW has been tremendous. What an amazing, dedicated, compassionate team. Without them I think our journey would have been very different to this point. We loved meeting them face to face as restrictions lifted and we attended bespoke events at Erddig supported by the National Trust for foster carers in Wrexham. Personal access to Father Christmas, Elsa from frozen and the Easter Bunny.

Some days are fun, some are creative, some are stressful, some are tiring, and some are humbling, some day’s miracles happen considering the difficulties and separation stresses these children are facing.

How amazing to be part of that journey, providing safety, warmth, play and food, the basics which enable them to flourish.

Not for the faint hearted but certainly has been everything we expected and more.

Meanwhile Lynne is an experienced foster carer with Foster Wales Wrexham for over 10 years.

‘The bitter sweet knock at your door when a new life is placed in your hands, your excitement and intrigue verses their fear, worry and bewilderment’ as the life of a Foster Carer and Foster Child come together on a new journey.

Whether that journey is for days, weeks, months or even years, being a Foster Carer is a very special role that we play in the lives of children.

Children who for whatever reason, cannot at this moment in time, live with their own family.

Some rewards are invisible and endless, it’s those unspoken moments when you witness the smallest of achievements in a child’s life, yet you both know it’s a ‘wow moment’. Then you know ‘it’s been worthwhile’.

We like being the family that walks ‘the wonky path’ our highs may be different to those of other families and our lows most certainly are different to a lot of families, but we walk the path together and we’re proud of our family unit, a unit that changes from time to time as children come and go, but the foundations of security remain steadfast.

To find out how you can foster in Wrexham visit www.wrexham.fosterwales.gov.wales