A couple who have fostered so many children that they stopped counting believe being carers has kept them young.
Kate and Phil Gilbert, who have fostered over 600 children, will next May have been fostering for 30 years.
Kate (69) and Phil (66) who live on the border between Peterborough and Whittlesey, thought they were too old for children of their own so decided to start fostering.
Of the 600 children and counting, some were fostered for a few hours and some for a few years, but Kate and Phil have enjoyed having a full house for the last 29 years.
Kate said: “I cannot say we were not worried about how it would work out but it’s worked out well. I’ve enjoyed it very much. It’s a great youth drug.
“We have had a lot of challenges but we have worked through most of them.”
Kate does not think her life would have been as fulfilling or enjoyable if she had not been a foster carer.
The joys of fostering, according to Kate, can come from seeing people move on and find their own homes and ask for her advice.
Kate said: “We keep in touch with a few on a regular basis. We have an extended family and go to weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. Last week we had a visit from a young lady who was with us when she was 14 and is 29 now. It was lovely to see her and her child.”
Currently, Kate and Phil have three children at home and another four older than 18 who are not ready to move out.And Kate maintains their role is not to be the child’s parent but help out at a time of need.
She said: “A lot of the time they need a safe place to be. We are here to look after them, not take the place of their parents.
“And we make sure they are safe and help them grow and develop.”
Peterborough City Council is aiming to recruit more foster carers to look after older children and teenagers.
Kate added: “Do not be afraid of older children because they can be a joy. And there’s always someone there who can support you.
“I would say to anyone who is thinking about it, go and see someone and have a chat. You are never too old and everyone is capable of doing it.”
Become a foster carer
There are around 150 registered fostering households in Peterborough that care for about 300 children every day.
While many carers are approved for babies and toddlers, about six out of 10 young people looked after by Peterborough City Council are aged 10 or above.
The council has recruited over 60 new fostering households in the past two years. Those carers have come from a range of backgrounds and are already making a difference to the lives of some of the city’s most vulnerable children.
To learn about becoming a foster carer, visit www.peterboroughfostering.co.uk or call 01733 317 427.