FOSTER carers who give up their time to provide loving homes for some of the most vulnerable children have been recognised for their commitment.
More than 50 of Sunderland’s longest-serving carers – ranging from five to 25 years – were invited to the Mayor’s Parlour at Sunderland Civic Centre for an annual awards presentation.
The looked-after children range from new-born babies to older ones with special needs, some of whom even stay with their foster mums and dads into adulthood.
A foster carer of 15 years, Gillian Burnikell, from Monkwearmouth, even took in a new-born baby on the day of the event.
“My mother was a foster carer for 32 years and I saw first hand what a massive difference she helped make to so many young people’s lives,” she said.
“I really enjoy looking after new-born babies and with my husband, Mark, providing children a home with our own family as they grow up.
“Being a foster carer is a really satisfying and rewarding experience, which I would recommend to everyone.”
Council leader Paul Watson said: “Foster carers make a massive impact on young people’s lives, providing them with a home and stable family environment, when they are at their most vulnerable.
“The annual presentation is our way of saying thank you, but doesn’t come close to providing the recognition they deserve.
“What we can do, however, is to provide foster carers with our continuing help, support and training wherever they need it, and encourage even more people to come forward.”
Team manager Sheila Lough, who has worked for the council for 27 years, was given the Celia Parnell award on the night, given to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the welfare of looked-after children.
To find out more about becoming a foster carer, call 520 5553 or visit www.sunderland.gov.uk/fostering