Family highlights need for more foster carers in Sunderland

John and Ruth Williams (left) and Barry and Helen Williams (right), who have all fostered children.
John and Ruth Williams (left) and Barry and Helen Williams (right), who have all fostered children.

Two generations of foster carers from one family are sharing their story to highlight the urgent need for more people willing to foster in Sunderland.

The Williams family are supporting Together for Children’s city-wide foster carer recruitment drive, which includes advertising on buses and at Metro stations.

John Williams, 62, and his wife Ruth, also 62, from Easington Lane, have been foster carers for 19 years, looking after eight children during that time.

The family’s dedication to foster care has been passed down to their son Barry, 38, and his wife Helen, 35, who have been foster carers themselves for six years.

The couple decided to follow in John and Ruth’s footsteps after growing attached to some of the youngsters who had been in the family’s care.

Helen said: “We got to know one little boy who was fostered by Barry’s parents really well and became very attached to him.

“Barry’s parents were fostering him on a short-term basis to offer respite care and we decided to enquire about looking after him on a longer term basis. He’s now been with us six years.

“We also have another little boy who we care for and a biological daughter who is three.

“They can bicker like any sibling group but they get on well and it makes for a rewarding family life.”

Ruth added: “We had always wanted to be foster carers and decided that after our own children became independent we would take the plunge.

“We have looked after many children over the years and are delighted that Barry and Helen have also now chosen to foster.

“It is extremely rewarding seeing how the children progress during their time with us and watching them grow and flourish.

“Even the little changes feel very rewarding.”

Currently there are more than 400 children are in foster care in Sunderland with Together for Children, looked after by around 270 foster carers, but more families are needed to provide temporary homes for children and young people in the city.

Together for Children is currently looking to recruit a number of new foster carers, particularly for older children and sibling groups.

Foster carers are offered financial support to cover the cost of caring for the child, as well as training and support from qualified social workers.

Kathryn McCabe, lead manager for Fostering and Adoption at Together for Children, said: “Foster care doesn’t just transform the lives of children and young people - it also enhances the lives of foster carers and their families.

“Seeing the positive changes in children from when they first arrive is hugely rewarding, but what is also rewarding is seeing just how much happiness these young people can bring to the families that they join.”

The next Together for Children foster care event takes place on January 16 at Bede Tower, Burdon Road, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

For more information visit www.togetherforchildren.org.uk/families/foster-care or call Together for Children’s fostering team on 0191 520 5553.