The Fostering Family Fun Day took place at the flagship Middlesbrough Sports Village on Sunday (August 23).
The event was a celebration of the contribution made by the area’s army of foster carers – and a call to others to step forward and make the life-changing commitment.
The Family Fun Day – set to become an annual event – is hosted jointly by Tees Valley Fostering which covers the Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool, Redcar & Cleveland and Darlington local authorities.
A feast of competitive family fun saw teams of foster carers, children and staff from the five local authority areas do battle in a range of sporting events, with Hartlepool going on to be crowned the Tees Valley’s Family Fun Day champions.
It’s hoped that the event will also raise awareness of the need for more foster carers and encourage people to come forward and look into fostering with their local council.
There are currently more than 1,250 looked after children across the Tees Valley and all five authorities need to recruit more foster carers, especially those able to support older children and sibling groups.
Fostering comes in different forms, and attracts carers from all walks of life, with the common aim of helping out a child or children in need.
It’s about providing a home for children and young people who can’t live with their own families for a variety of reasons, sometimes just for a matter of days or weeks, and in other cases for considerably longer.
Foster carers for 15 years Carolann and Malcom Bullock have cared for over 200 children on both a full-time and emergency basis.
Describing fostering as the couple’s ‘calling’, Carolann said: “I love all the kids who come into our lives – they all have something special.
“It’s vital that we raise awareness of fostering because there are more kids out there who need somewhere to live and we need more foster carers to be there for them.
“The rewards are huge because you’re giving children who have had a difficult start in life some nice memories to take away with them – even if it’s just something like having a family meal at the table or going to the seaside, which some have never experienced.
“It’s not always easy, but it’s more than worth it.”
Councillor Mike Carr, Executive Member for Children’s Social Care and Tees Valley Fostering spokesperson, said: “A happy, secure and loving home is something every child is entitled to, and something which we’re committed to across the Tees area.
“Fostering has a very special role to play, and is truly life-changing, not just for the children involved.
“We have a great many fantastic foster carers across the area who continue to make an invaluable difference to the lives of countless children, but we always need more to step forward and take up the challenge.
“The Fostering Family Fun Day is hugely deserved recognition of those whose hard work and dedication helps to transform young lives and in many keep families together.
“But it’s also an opportunity to appeal to those who think fostering might be for them – they have nothing to lose by coming along and finding out more.
“There’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ foster carer – we welcome inquiries from everyone regardless of age, sexuality or religion.”
The Tees Valley Fostering Celebration Day took place at Middlesbrough Sports Village (off Ladgate Lane) on Sunday, August 23 from noon to 4pm.
For more information about fostering across the Tees area visit www.teesvalleyfostering.com