Want to make a difference in the new year? Consider fostering, adoption, supporting a young person to become independent or volunteering in a care home.
Christmas and New Year are often times for personal reflection. People consider a variety of changes, from a new career to joining a gym, or trying to make a difference in the world.
In Portsmouth there are a host of ways to make a positive impact in the lives of people who need help in one way or another.
Portsmouth City Council has opportunities for you to help transform vulnerable people’s lives, from fostering and adoption to supporting a young person to become independent and volunteering in a care home.
Cllr Ryan Brent, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said ‘There are lots of ways people in and around Portsmouth can support their community.
‘You can change the life of a child or young person through fostering or adoption, and opportunities for voluntary work, or being part of the Shared Lives scheme, are extremely rewarding.
‘We are especially keen to speak to people who have existing skills and experience of working with children, young people or people with disabilities, whether personal, professional or voluntary.’
Portsmouth needs to recruit foster carers for children of all ages, but in particular for teenagers, children with disabilities and respite carers.
Guy and Wendy (pictured) are a married couple from Portsmouth and have fostered children in the council’s care for more than 10 years, since their early 40s.
Guy says: ‘Wendy was the main foster carer and I worked as a retail manager, but once we began fostering children with higher levels of physical disabilities, we decided I should quit my job and we should foster as a couple full-time.
‘We’ve fostered teenagers, babies, children on the autistic spectrum and with physical disabilities, and provided respite care.
‘Each fostering placement has been rewarding in differing ways, but we’ve got the most satisfaction from working with children with special needs.’
FOSTERING AS A CAREER
Fostering gives people an opportunity to help a child or young person with a supportive, stable environment.
Emma, from Southsea, has been a foster carer with husband Chris (pictured) since 2010. She says: ‘Fostering is an amazing way to make a real difference to a child or teenager’s life.’
SHARED LIVES SCHEME
Shared Lives carers open up their homes to adults who need a bit of extra help. Carers can earn an income of £290-£400 per week.
Annette and Terry from Hilsea have been Shared Lives carers for 11 years.
They say: ‘We enjoy seeing the changes in the people who share our lives.
‘The attraction of Shared Lives is using our spare rooms to give people the support they need.’
Lots of children from Portsmouth and the surrounding areas are looking for their forever home.
Miranda, from Hampshire, was a foster carer, but decided to adopt a young child she had fostered since he was two weeks old.
She says: ‘I was a single woman with a relatively young son, and we had both grown very attached to the young boy we had fostered.
‘The council were actively looking for a family to adopt him, and as I was hanging out the washing one day, I thought ‘‘hang on, we’re a family, we get on brilliantly together, my son calls him his brother from another mother. Why don’t we adopt him?’’
‘The best advice I could give anyone out there considering adoption is to go with your heart. I did and it was the best decision I ever made.’
It is possible to learn a new skill, make friends and give back to your community at the same time by volunteering in a care home.
Roles include befriending residents, playing the piano and serving up cake in the vintage tea rooms.
A foster carer/adoption recruitment event is being held at the Holiday Inn Express, Farlington on Saturday January 27, 10am-1pm.
For information on fostering call (023) 9283 4071, visit foster.portsmouth.gov.uk, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on adoption, call (023) 9287 5294, visit adoption.portsmouth.gov.uk, or email email@example.com.
For more about volunteering, visit volunteer.portsmouth.gov.uk and search for ‘be there for care’.
For Shared Lives, call 07957 384 969, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or search ‘shared lives’ at portsmouth.gov.uk.