Somerset family donates Christmas gifts to young people leaving care 

Inspired by the John Lewis Christmas campaign, a Somerset family has filled and donated festive gift bags for local teenagers in care.  
 
Eddie, a year nine pupil at King’s College, Taunton, wanted to support young people in care after watching this year’s popular John Lewis Christmas advert, which highlights the increasing number of Children Looked After across the UK.  

Eddie and his 16-year-old sister Lottie were particularly keen to provide gifts for 16–18-year-olds, many of whom have left foster care, and may be spending their first Christmas living independently with the support of Somerset County Council.  
 
Eddie delivered a total of 40 gift bags to County Hall, each filled with presents the family felt may be welcomed by older teenagers, including the obligatory festive socks, treats, toiletries and Christmas decorations. 

Eddie and his family hope their actions might encourage others to help vulnerable groups within their local communities.  “What we have done is only a drop in the ocean of what is needed.  If reporting our small gesture can help to encourage others to do similar or support in other ways, that would be wonderful” said Eddie’s Mum, Carol. 

There are currently over 570 Somerset children in the care of the County Council – with more than half aged 12 and over – and around 200 Local Authority foster carers in Somerset. With the number of older children in care steadily growing, the County Council needs to recruit more carers across the county, particularly for older children and teenagers.   

Cllr Tessa Munt, Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Children and Families, said: “I would like to  thank Eddie and his family personally for their incredibly kind and generous donation of gifts. It was a pleasure to meet Eddie and hear how he was inspired to support local children in care. Not all young people will spend Christmas with their birth families, and our foster carers do a fantastic job of providing support and stability for children, but equally, community support and engagement is absolutely invaluable in helping to create a sense of belonging and acceptance for our young people in care.” 
 

If you’ve been inspired to consider how you could support children and young people in care, there are a variety of ways you can help.  

Foster carers make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable children, helping them to develop and grow in a nurturing family environment. You need to be aged 21 or over with a spare room in your home, and full training and support will be provided, including a weekly fee and allowance payments. For more information on fostering please visit www.fosteringinsomerset.org.uk or call 0800 587 9900 

Route 1 Advocacy and Independent Visitor Service offer volunteering opportunities working with children in the care of Somerset County Council. As an Advocate, you ensure the authentic voice of a young person is heard in meetings about them.  Independent Visitors befriend and spend time with a child in care outside their foster home. You can find more information about these roles on the website https://beta.somerset.gov.uk/education-and-families/route-one-advocacy/