Not all heroes wear capes, and until now our foster carer superheroes have been hiding in plain sight across West Sussex.
To highlight the urgent need for more people to come forward, nine foster carers star in a brand new campaign after taking part in photoshoots in Worthing, Chichester, Crawley and Horsham.
Between them they have over 100 years of fostering experience and to give them the superhero recognition they and every other foster carer deserves, they have been given capes and masks as part of an eye-catching new online recruitment campaign.
Each shared their own unique experiences to show those thinking about fostering how they too could change a life.
Dawn, from Worthing, began fostering 20 years ago when she had young children of her own. She met husband Steve five years later and he has also been a registered foster carer for 11 years.
Dawn said: “Over that period of time we’ve fostered a lot of young people. We’ve seen them do well in college and go on to have their own families and that’s been very rewarding. They keep in touch, it’s like having an extended family.”
Emma and Adrian, also from Worthing, became registered foster carers ten months ago and are caring for a child alongside their young daughter. Emma said: “We have our daughter so we’re in that family role doing fun stuff at the weekends and the routine of school, so it felt like a natural time without changing our lifestyle completely. It’s company for our daughter as well and to help her get some more life experience.”
Richard and Kim, from Lancing, decided to foster once their children had flown the nest.
Kim said: “I thought ‘I’m good at looking after kids, maybe I should go down the fostering route’. I spoke to my sister who fostered teenagers, I talked to Richard about it and thought we’d have a look into it. We’ve been doing it 12 years now.
“We enjoy doing it. Sometimes it can be challenging, but it’s rewarding seeing children progress and seeing all their achievements.”
Richard added: “It was a big decision, I had all those feelings of ‘do we really want to do this’. But when I look back I see that it’s been such a rewarding time of my life, that you can give something to these children who are desperate for a nice home. Just being loved, that’s all they want.”
Nikki and her partner, from Horsham, have been fostering for 15 years. Nikki said: “My biological son was five when we started so he’s grown up with fostering. We’ve had babies from newborn until they’ve moved on to a permanent home, teenagers and now siblings. For us it’s seeing them learn different skills and enjoy everyday things like going to tea at friend’s houses, riding bikes and then develop and move on. We’ve seen the older children move on to independence and living successful lives from there.”
Maz and George, from Worthing, have had two disabled children placed with them long-term alongside caring for many others. Maz said: “This will be our 28th year. George walked one girl down the aisle, we’ve been to weddings, christenings, helped with first jobs and to go travelling.”
Follow @FosterWSCC on Twitter and search #FosteringHeroes #ChangeALife.
To enquire about becoming a fostering hero with West Sussex County Council call 033 022 27775 or visit http://www.westsussex.gov.uk/fostering