Croydon Council has 700 children currently in care and they urgently need more foster carers to give these young people the chance of a home life beyond council accommodation.
Active support for the annual campaign run by the charity Fostering Network aims to highlight the need for more than 9,000 new carers across the UK.
The message from the council is help give hope to the children in their care by responding to the ‘Get in the Frame’ campaign to encourage more people to consider fostering.
Laura Fitzimmons, part of the fostering recruitment team at Croydon Council, believes the campaign is very important as Croydon clearly has one of the highest needs for carers across London.
So far the events in Croydon have been well attended. The awareness campaign is gathering momentum, despite the fact this is the first year that the Fostering Network has not received funding from the government.
James Foyle who works for the Fostering Network said they have received a lot of support: “We had a great success on breakfast TV and radio. There are a number of channels we’re using to get the message across.”
They have a big presence on social media and have used celebrity support to help attract many followers via twitter and facebook.
High profile backing includes Gareth Gates, the singer whose family fostered children when he was growing up, and Dani Harmer, who played Tracy Beaker in the CBBC television series about a children’s home.
Ian, a foster carer working in Croydon, believes that the local council are doing a great deal to raise awareness but, unlike James Foyle, he thinks that the media “could be doing a lot more” to support the campaign on a national level.
He said he was “disappointed with the lack of actual television coverage.”
Ian, who has worked with dozens of youngsters in the Croydon area, applied to be a carer in response to a similar appeal twenty eight years ago.
He thinks that one of the reasons for the shortage of foster carers in the borough is that people assume they have not got the right skills.
He said that “people just don’t understand that they could become foster carers…they discount themselves straight away.”
Croydon Council are hoping that residents not only support the campaign online, but also attend local events.
One of the ways in which Croydon Council hopes to attract potential carers is by providing an opportunity for people to hear the positive experiences of existing carers like Ian.
The council is running an information meeting at Croydon Town Hall giving locals the chance to hear from carers and social workers.
Local events will come to an end at the end of the week, but Laura believes that the fortnight can make a difference despite its limited duration. She said that last year Croydon “did actually see an increase in numbers after the Foster Care Fortnight.”
Reporters: Flo Neve and Hannah Newton