Portsmouth woman who has fostered for 30 years says she always strives to make Christmas 'magical'

A WOMAN who has been fostering children for three decades says she always tries to make Christmas ‘magical’ as it can be a tough time of year.

Monday, 23rd December 2019, 8:44 am
(l-r) Vikki Scullion, Dianne Gash and Annalise Scullion (Vikki's daughter)

Dianne Gash and her husband have welcomed young people into their homes for the last 30 years and love to celebrate Christmas with many of the children they have cared for.

Dianne said: ‘Christmas is a time for family, and our family consists of all the young people we have fostered over the years. I buy gifts for them and the house can be quite hectic when they visit at Christmas but we wouldn't have it any other way.

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‘This time of year can be difficult for some children; it can trigger bad memories and we learnt this very quickly. We learnt to include them in our Christmas plans early by talking about what our traditions were a few months before. That way they were prepared and could get involved with the bits that they wanted to.

‘We just wanted to make Christmas magical for them, and for them to feel included and loved. Even after they've moved on they all know they can come back to us, especially at this time of year and they all do.’

Vikki, now 41, lived with Dianne for 10 years and now visits with her 16-year-old daughter Annalise.

Vikki said: ‘We go to Dianne's house every year, either on Christmas Day or Boxing Day to exchange presents. Christmas at Dianne's has always been special and I love going back to see everyone.’

Dianne wants to encourage people across Portsmouth to consider offering a loving and stable home to a child or young person in care.

There are currently 488 looked-after children in Portsmouth, many living with Portsmouth foster carers on a short or long term basis who provide them with a stable and loving home.

But there is a need for more foster carers, short and long term, for children aged up to 18 years and a particular need for long-term foster carers, as well as those able to accommodate sibling groups, unaccompanied asylum seeking minors and teenagers.

Councillor Rob Wood, Portsmouth City Council's cabinet member for children and families said: ‘The magic of Christmas is kept alive by the undeniable efforts of our amazing foster carers. Every child deserves a special Christmas in a safe and loving home; unfortunately this is not always the case, which is where our foster carers step in.

‘If you think you could provide a better future to a child or young person then please get in touch.’

The council welcomes all applications from those with a spare room no matter whether you rent or own your home.

For more information on fostering call the recruitment team on 023 9283 4071, visit foster.portsmouth.gov.uk or email [email protected]