Letters, Tuesday January 29, 2013

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Shortage of foster carers in North East

WE have been foster carers for children’s charity Barnardo’s North East for 14 years and we are urging people to give some serious thought to fostering a child or young person this year.

 Barnardo’s is running a recruitment drive for foster carers in the North East because of a shortage of people willing to offer children a safe and nurturing home.

 Applications for children to be taken into care are on the rise for the sixth year in a row, however there is a national shortage of 9,000 foster carers.

 The huge shortfall of foster carers at a time when there is an increase in referrals of children amounts to a crisis, and it is more crucial than ever to ensure that stable and secure foster placements are available.

 Short-break foster carers are in high demand too. Short break care entails offering a child a home for as little as a few weekends a year.

 A YouGov poll commissioned by Barnardo’s a couple of years ago found that 80 per cent of people in the North East have never considered fostering. Of the 20 per cent who had considered it, almost all had not taken any further steps towards becoming a foster carer. When asked what would most encourage them to foster, North East people mostly said “control over what type of children would be matched with them”.

 Barnardo’s guides foster carers through a detailed matching process and provides ongoing support. The charity also runs a series of parenting courses aimed at preparing foster carers for the process and equipping them with the skills to deal with children with a range of needs.

 Foster carers come from all walks of life. It definitely helps if you’ve had experience with children, but the main qualities you need are patience and a caring nature.

 Many people feel the challenge of fostering is too great, but Barnardo’s offers 24-hour support and advice.

 Barnardo’s does not exclude anyone on the grounds of age. There is no upper age limit to becoming a foster carer and the charity is keen to speak to older people with life experience, whether they are parents themselves or not.

 Foster carers receive a weekly professional fee to carry out their role, as well as the costs of caring for each child.

 The charity is particularly keen to hear from people who might be able to look after children and young people with physical or learning disabilities and sibling groups.

 For an informal chat with the Barnardo’s North East Fostering team or to get your questions answered, please call 08000 277 280 or visit www.barnardos.org.uk/fosteringandadoption

Shaun and Karen McNeill,

On behalf of Barnardo’s NE

That’s hypocritical

COMMENTING on the latest budget settlements, Councillor Mel Spedding, Cabinet Secretary on Sunderland Council, quoted Dickens and said “welcome houselessness” (Echo, January 17).

 That’s rich coming from a member of the Labour-controlled council which abdicated its responsibility for social housing when it sold the council housing stock to Sunderland Housing Group, now Gentoo. A move opposed by the Conservative members of the Council Sub Committee that discussed it.

 Hypocrisy is alive and kicking.

Keith O’Brien,

Middle Herrington

TV driving me mad

I WONDER if other viewers are having problems with their service since television reception went completely digital.

 My personal bugbear is that not a day goes by without the screen freezing, no signal, blank screen etc.

 These disruptions only last a few seconds, but can occur for several hours, especially at night.

 The amount of times I’ve missed the last minutes of a decent film – it’s so annoying.

 I never had any problems before the switch-over.

 Are the Digital Team aware of the problem? Can it be sorted or do we just have to put up with bad reception from now on?

 I feel I’m not too far away from introducing a house brick to my television screen. It’s driving me mad.

Mr and Mrs Crompton,

Sunderland

Help our centre

OUR council has £15million earmarked for the iconic bridge arcs, but I wonder how many people would like to see two arcs, or money invested into our city?

 Here are a few ideas, £1million to bring the Adelaide back to its home. Then apply for Lotto funding to employ young folk and teach them the old traditions of shipbuilding.

 Why should our South Tyneside neighbours get our hard-earned cash? Build a wet and wild on the seafront. The Aquatic Centre I hear you cry – yeah for people who want to swim in straight lines. It’s not for kids. What about investing in the leisure centre?

 Our council needs to invest in our city. People go out of the city because there is nothing here.

 Bring back the illuminations.

 Even South Shields had better Christmas decorations. We had a lovely tree but it was stuck at the back of the civic. Come on, please, pull your finger out.

Kevin Stoker