Peterborough residents asked to consider volunteering to provide respite care for children with additional needs as a ‘Link foster carer’

Residents in Peterborough are being asked to consider becoming “Link foster carers” to help provide respite care for children and young people with additional needs in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire.

Sunday, 12th September 2021, 11:50 am
Link foster carer, Cathy.

Link foster carers are on hand to provide regular overnight short breaks and respite care to children and young people with additional needs.

All necessary support, guidance and training is provided by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fostering Services in order to help volunteers do something great for local children and young people and their families.

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The drive for volunteers is part of a new campaign called ‘The Real Faces of Fostering,’ which highlights everyone who is involved with the fostering journey, and features social workers, foster carers and young people in care.

Both Peterborough City and Cambridgeshire County councils are celebrating how foster carers’ acts of support, love and guidance help children and young people thrive and develop.

One of those who has signed up to offer respite care is Cathy, aged 48. She provides respite care for families of children with disabilities, between the ages of 5 and 18.

Having worked in residential children’s homes as well as caring for adults with special needs in the community, Cathy wanted to combine her knowledge and skills and provide family-based care to children and young people who had complex needs. She became a Link foster carer and has never looked back.

She said: “I have been able to offer children and young people a different experience as well as supporting their parents and family in caring for children with disabilities and offering everyone a break to recharge their batteries”.

“My thoughts first turned to fostering when caring for my mum, who had developed dementia, which made working away difficult,”

“At that point, both my children were growing up fast, so fostering from home seemed to be the perfect solution. This was when I approached the Council’s Fostering Service for more information and was directed to look into Link foster care.”

Having brought up two children of her own and provided care for her mother, Cathy had a full understanding of the importance of respite care and was keen to provide it to other families.

After applying to the Council’s Fostering Service, Cathy went through initial training, and after being approved was matched with a number of children and young people and their families so that she could offer overnight stays and short breaks.

“Matching looks at what a child or young person needs and the kind of family they need to support them and links that to what you can offer them,” Cathy explains. “I guess it’s why it’s called ‘Link Foster Care’. I live with my partner and my two older children, so everything is taken into account for the perfect match”.

The local authority offers Link carers a flexible approach, with both full time and part time options available. Cathy is a full time Link carer and provides respite care for four evenings each week.

Both local authorities offer allowances and expenses (which are based on experience and availability) and offer Link foster carers round-the-clock specialist support and supervision, as well as ongoing training. Cathy agrees that she feels completely supported as a Link foster carer at all times, through being provided with a range of bespoke training that helps her provide the best care to the children and

young people that she is matched with.

She continued: “It’s not a breeze! It’s like hearing ‘are we there yet?’ constantly! These children need to be supervised 24/7 – but that’s what I love.”

Both councils have said that they want to provide this valuable support to even more children in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and are calling for people to come forward to become part of something great.

Councillor Bryony Goodliffe, Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee said: “We are so proud of our brilliant team of Link Carers. It’s carers like Cathy who understand the importance of not only providing bespoke care to children and young people with disabilities and special needs, but also finding the right match between a carer and the child or young person’s family.

“We would encourage anybody with a caring, dedicated nature to consider joining our Link Care service and help change the lives of local families for the better.”

Councillor Lynne Ayres, Peterborough City Council’s cabinet member for children’s services added: “Like Cathy, our fantastic Link Carers appreciate that the service they provide is of great benefit to the parents of children and young people with special needs and disabilities in our area, as well as the children and young people themselves.

“Cathy is a shining example of how our Link Carers find the right balance between living their own lives and providing essential respite for families. If you’re also a compassionate, resilient person, please get in touch.”

To find out more about the Real Faces of Fostering campaign, search #RealFacesOfFostering on social media, call 0800 052 0078 or visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/fostering or

www.peterborough.gov.uk/fostering.