NEW foster carer Pauline Davey is leading calls for more people to invite vulnerable children into their homes.
She has joined Portsmouth City Council’s Every Five Days campaign – named because on average a child in the city needs a foster home every five days – which launches today.
From today until Saturday she will be helping run a pop-up shop in Cascades Shopping Centre, in Commercial Road, which will provide advice and information about fostering and how to apply.
One message she wants to spread is that people shouldn’t be put off by thinking they will be rejected.
The fact that Pauline, of West Street, Havant, suffers from multiple sclerosis was no barrier to her and partner Tim Smith taking a 17-year-old into their home in October.
The 43-year-old said: ‘It is something we have talked about for five or six years but have never had the courage to do anything about it.
‘We found ourselves in a position where our boys had grown up and I wasn’t ready to stop being a mum.
‘I was hesitant because I have MS so I was really scared of being turned down.
‘I told them straight away and they just asked if we could give a child a loving, caring home – because that is all they require. People think things like how old you are and whether you’ve got money make a difference, but they don’t matter.’
Pauline said the teenager they took in was from a dreadful situation – but that he has become part of the family.
‘It has been amazing,’ she said. ‘The little milestones are so special. Like our first hug, first Christmas, or when he gave me a mother’s day card.’
Pauline Pearce is the council’s foster care recruitment manager and said there is a national shortage of foster carers.
‘You really need to place children with the right carers,’ she said.
‘So it’s important to have a diverse mix.
‘Portsmouth also pays people who get approved quite well, so it isn’t going to be an extra financial burden.’
The Foster Portsmouth pop-up shop will open from 9am to 5.30pm from today until Friday and from 9am to 12.30pm on Saturday.
CAN YOU HELP?
THE city council is looking for someone to provide respite foster care for a bright and engaging 11-year-old boy one weekend a month.
Andrew enjoys gymnastics, gets on well with little children, likes animals and is doing well with his full-time foster carers. He can be active and challenging to care for at times, so the respite arrangement will give his full-time foster carers a monthly break.
The council is looking for a couple with no children living at home and a spare room, who would be able to look after him one weekend each month on a long-term basis.
Anyone interested should call (023) 9237 4879 or visit fosterportsmouth.co.uk