Former professional footballer, Gary Bennett, led a celebration of Sunderland Foster Carers at an event this week.
Together for Children, the organisation that delivers children’s services on behalf of Sunderland City Council hosted its annual Foster Carer Celebration event that recognises the services of Foster Carers at the Stadium of Light.
The organisation has around 250 foster carers including Gary and his wife Audrey who have fostered five children over seven years.
Gary whose football career began in 1981 regularly provides radio commentary and is actively involved in Show Racism the Red Card, said: “I was delighted to lend my support to this event, which awarded around 40 certificates to Foster Carers for service ranging from five to thirty years.”
“There is a real sense of community and shared understanding of the rewards of fostering and helping children and young people in need in Sunderland.”
Jill Colbert, Chief Executive of Together for Children said: “We are extremely grateful to Gary for giving us his support.
“There are around 600 children in care in Sunderland and our foster carers look after most of the children and help to bring a sense of belonging to them. It’s important that we recognise their service and dedication.”
The Together for Children fostering service, which is rated good by Ofsted provides ongoing training and support for carers and is currently looking to recruit a number of new foster carers, particularly for older children and sibling groups.
Earlier this year Together for Children announced a new financial support package that aims to support the recruitment of carers by providing weekly payments to foster carers to cover the basic needs of a child or children in foster care and take into account transport, clothing, food, personal and household items. Under the new scheme foster carers can earn up to £34,320 plus allowances per year.
There are few restrictions to becoming a foster carer, although carers must undergo an assessment process.
The next Foster Care Information Evening takes place on Monday 8 July from 6:30pm to 8pm. Alternately you may register an expression of interest in fostering online https://togetherforchildren.org.uk/fostercare or call 0191 561 2223.
Photo Caption: Gary Bennett pictured with Foster Carers, Jill Colbert and Kathryn McCabe, Service Manager at Together for Children