Foster carers needed for asylum seeking children in Somerset

Caring and committed foster families are being sought to provide safe homes for unaccompanied asylum seeking children being resettled in Somerset.

Somerset, like all local authority areas across the country, is taking part in the resettlement of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) – young people aged under 18 who are applying for asylum and have no relative or guardian in the country.

Eight children have arrived in the county so far, fleeing conflict or persecution in countries including Afghanistan and Eritrea. Five were already in the UK and others were living in camps in Northern Europe.

With more than 60 more children expected to arrive in Somerset over the next three years, the council is looking for caring, kind and committed foster carers who can take care of them and help them to adjust to life in the UK.

A special fostering information event about fostering asylum seeking children is being held on Monday, 9 January 2017 at Costa Coffee in Taunton (TA1 1JW) from 7 to 9pm.

There will be a special presentation about the children and the care and support they need. People will have a chance to talk to friendly and professional staff. Plus you’ll get a free Coast Coffee and a cake. To register a place at the event phone 0800 587 9900.

The children arriving in Somerset are likely to arrive with very few belongings and little grasp of the English language.

Foster carers need to be welcoming, open to learning about new cultures and able to nurture and encourage children to settle in to life in the UK.

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for children and families, said:  “We know from experience that children in care, whether they are from this country or not, thrive in a family environment in foster care.

“If you have time to give to a young person and space in your home please contact us to find out more about fostering asylum seeking children who are separated from their families. You really can make a difference.

“I hope that people who start fostering one of these children will continue to foster children from all kinds of backgrounds in Somerset.”

As with all children in care, foster carers have the ability to make a real difference to children’s lives and give them the stable home they need to develop, grow and be happy.

Elaine and Ian Koerner, from Yeovil, have been fostering for 37 years and recently started caring for children who have been separated from their family and seeking asylum in the UK.

In a personal and moving blog Elaine shares her experiences of fostering young men who have fled their home country and why she feels it is the best thing she has ever done. Read her full blog here: http://www.fosteradoptsomerset.org.uk/elaine-yassins-blog/

Elaine said: “After fostering for 37 years I can honestly say that fostering asylum seeking children is a great experience. It has opened my eyes and I now see the world in a different way. And also for my grandchildren and the other children I look after it has opened their eyes too. We’ve all gained a lot from being a multi-cultural household. Yassin is now 19 and he will be staying with us until he is at least 21 – we very much see him as part of our family.”

Yassin said: “Elaine and Ian are really friendly and lovely people. I feel very lucky to live with them.

“If all foster carers are like Elaine and Ian they will change the lives of young people like me. It is good for the young people’s future and for this country.”

Find out how you can make a difference as a Foster Carer in Somerset – visit www.fosteradoptsomerset.org.uk, phone 0800 587 9900, ‘like’ the Fostering in Somerset Facebook page or follow @fostersomerset on Twitter.