Putting families first is the approach the new chief executive chooses for his first personal project.
Newly appointed chief executive of Durham County Council, Terry Collins, has chosen to focus on two key areas. The first is a new scheme to support care leavers and the second is to encourage the people of Durham to become foster carers.
The chief executive aims to help care leavers settle into adult life by securing work within the council and with other organisations, by providing work experience placements, traineeships, apprenticeships and offering mentoring support for young people who have been in care.
Terry Collins said: “I want to use my care leavers support scheme to offer the best possible chance in the work place for young people we have looked after, just like any other parent would do for their own children.
“I also want to focus on fostering. I’ve had my eyes opened to some of the amazing work we do and I’m inspired by the dedication of the foster families. They’re transforming lives and are giving life changing opportunities to some of the young people who need this help the most.”
Over 600 children are in care in County Durham; however 430 carers are still needed across the North East, which is why Terry is encouraging people to attend a fostering open event at County Hall on Saturday 5 March 2016 between 10.30am to 1.00pm.
This is an opportunity for people to find out more about fostering, who can foster and what it takes, the help and support they’ll receive and also the chance to talk to foster carers.
Ian and Alison Cummings, a couple from Durham, have fostered three children after adopting three. Mrs Cummings said: “We had an extra space and we said let’s make a change, let’s make a difference.
“The thing we’re most proud of is helping to move kids out of the care circle. We’re helping them break away from the care system so they become rounded, mature adults.”
Terry adds: “If I can encourage people just to come and talk to us and help make a difference, I really want to do that.
People can find out what it’s like to foster with Durham County Council by watching our video at https://youtu.be/NlMh7xjQ_tM which features first-hand accounts of people who are already working with children in care.
For more information about fostering, visit www.durham.gov.uk/fostering or call 03000 269 400.