A TEAM is training hard for a long walk that has the potential to change young lives forever.

The intrepid hikers are limbering up for the 187-mile Coast to Coast challenge on the tracks and fells of the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales and Lake District.

The walk – led by Brian Foulger of Middlesbrough Council’s Family Placement Team – is a joint initiative by Tees Valley Fostering to raise awareness of the need to recruit new foster carers across the five boroughs that make up the Tees Valley.

Their 11-day odyssey will see them cross some of the UK’s most scenic terrain, reaching Robin Hood’s Bay on Monday, July 3.

The six-strong team set off on their marathon journey from St Bees in Cumbria on Friday, June 23 and are hoping to be joined along the way by supporters and keen ramblers.

As part of team Middlesbrough a group of nine people from Children’s Services will join the trek between Ennerdale and Patterdale over the weekend of June 24.

And on Saturday, July 1 the team will host a sponsored walk from Clay Bank to the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge, with foster carers, children, elected members and staff from across the Tees Valley helping to raise funds for various charities and generate publicity.

Brian said: “We wanted to do something special to raise the profile of Tees Valley Fostering, so what better that one of the very best walks anywhere in the world?

“It’s no mean undertaking, so we’ve been out training since last October to make sure we can complete the full distance.

“As part of the walk we are organising a sponsored walk for foster carers, their children and anyone else who is willing to join us either to help publicise the event or to raise money.

“We all believe passionately in fostering and its ability to transform young lives forever, and give young people the security and family support they need in life.

“The Coast to Coast walk is our way of spreading the word about the difference fostering can make for all involved, and I hope it will encourage more people to come forward and find out more.”

Throughout the walk the team will be wearing specially made white shirts bearing the logos of their sponsors Everyone Active, Tesco (Coulby Newham) and Askham Bryant College and Persimmon Homes.

For more information on fostering in Middlesbrough visit http://www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/fostering