‘It can be quite isolating’ - foster care campaign visits Ilford

Kingship foster carer Paula Buckley, 44 and Childrens Trust managing director Patrick Power, 58 with Kristopher the...

Kingship foster carer Paula Buckley, 44 and Childrens Trust managing director Patrick Power, 58 with Kristopher the travelling teddy from Kinship Care and Grandparents Plus - Credit: Archant

A campaign to raise awareness for 200,000 foster carers is sweeping the country - led by a teddy bear.

Kristopher the kinship bear is journeying around the country in support of Kinship Carers, part of the Grandparents Plus charity. At each place he visits, he will be looked after by a different foster carer to represent the love and support they provide for children who cannot live with their parents.

Recently he stopped off at Redbridge Town Hall, where Paula Buckley, 45, of Ilford, spoke about the need for isolated carers to be put in touch with each other.

She said: “It can be quite isolating, quite often friends disappear when we are not available for nights out any more and the invitations soon dry up. We have little in common with younger parents as we have been there and done it already. Being in touch with others in the same boat would be really beneficial.”

Many of the 300,000 children living in foster care have experienced the same multiple adversities as children in the care system, such as bereavement, disability, mental ill health, parental domestic violence, alcohol or drug misuse or imprisonment.

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Laura Warner, kinship carer and tour manager for Kristopher also spoke of the isolation carers experience.

She said: “Many have given up work and lost touch with their friends as their lives take on a very different path to the one they had planned. We hope that this fundraising tour will make people think about kinship carers in their own families and communities and send the message to them that they are not alone.”

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The campaign is also aiming to raise extra funds towards a carers holiday, Kinfest.

Chief executive, Sam Smethers, said: “This is a really lovely way of spreading the word about kinship care and reaching people who may never have asked themselves the question ‘if a parent cannot look after their child, who steps in?’”

To donate to the campaign, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/travellingted.

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