General, Keeping families healthy, Protecting vulnerable children

Surrey couple foster 269 children

Pam and Graham

Pam and Graham

A Surrey couple who have cared for 269 children over 40 years are among the country’s busiest foster carers.

With Foster Care Fortnight getting underway on Monday, Pam and Graham are appealing to others to open their homes and hearts to children who need a family to look after them.

The Farnham couple, who have three children of their own and three grandchildren, began fostering in 1976, when their first baby was a year old.

Over the next four decades, they have always had at least one foster child under their roof apart from a few weeks in the 1990s. On a few occasions, they have looked after sibling groups of six children.

Tree-style photo frames in their home display snaps of all the children they have looked after. They show 266 faces and the three children currently with them will be added once they, too, move on.

Graham, 69, a retired bank executive, said: “Many people I talk to about fostering say ‘I just couldn’t do that’. Give it a try – you might surprise yourself. There is training, support and mentoring and you will never be asked to do something you don’t want to do or something you can’t do.

“For us, it’s a great reward helping children through a difficult time in their life. We’re still in contact with many of them and it’s great to hear how their lives have blossomed.”

Pam, 70, who worked in banking before she became a foster carer, said: “Fostering has always been part of our lives from the time we had our own children so it hasn’t changed our lives – it’s more a case of being ‘our way of life’.”

With ‘Time to Foster, Time to Care’ the chosen theme of this year’s Foster Care Fortnight, Surrey County Council revealed it currently has 255 foster carers who have 1,953 years of experience between them.

Some 430 children are in Surrey foster care and more foster carers are always needed.

Clare Curran, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families Wellbeing, said: “Pam and Graham are truly inspirational and shining examples of the great work our foster carers do. As they have proved, carers who give a loving home to a child in need can really help to transform their lives and we are always looking for more people willing to take that step.”

A series of events is taking place during Foster Care Fortnight to spread the word about fostering, including information evenings on 18 May at George Abbot School, Woodruff Avenue, Guildford, at 7pm, and on 31 May at Heatherside Community Centre, Martindale Avenue, Camberley, also at 7pm.

There will also be drop-ins on 20 and 27 May from 1 to 6pm in the community room at Tesco Gatwick Extra, Reigate Road, Horley.

For more information about these and other events, click here.

For more information on fostering, visit Surrey County Council’s website.

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