Festive events are being staged by North Yorkshire Council to ensure care leavers and fostering families embrace the Christmas spirit and ensure the valuable work they are involved in is recognised.
In a display of unity, two groups of fostering families gathered at the Crown Spa Hotel in Scarborough and the Royal Hall in Harrogate, where children in foster care, alongside their dedicated foster carers and foster siblings, came together to create a special rendition of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.
Both performances will be broadcast on local radio stations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, helping to raise awareness about the essential role of foster carers.
The initiative is part of a broader campaign to address the increasing demand for foster carers in 2024. The aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a rise in the number of children entering care, coupled with a decline in available carers. To meet the pressing needs of local children in the coming year,
Fostering North Yorkshire – North Yorkshire Council’s fostering service – is calling for new recruits to come forward.
In addition to the festive performances, care leavers gathered for Christmas dinners in Scarborough, Selby, Northallerton, and Harrogate. Despite a halt to the festivities in 2020, these dinners have become a cherished seasonal tradition, providing an opportunity for care leavers to come together, share a meal and celebrate the holiday season.
North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for children and families, Cllr Janet Sanderson, said: “This is the time of year when we really need to be supporting our children and young people in care and those who have just left care.
“Not everyone has a family who can be with them at Christmas, so we are urging anyone who is thinking about becoming a foster carer to sign up now.
“We would also like to offer a sincere thank you to the Crown Spa Hotel and the Royal Hall for supporting our young foster children. They had a special time singing in a festive venue and are delighted to know that they will be on the radio.”
Jayne Dockerty, a dedicated foster carer from Scarborough since 2021, added: “It was such a lovely experience to see the children singing their hearts out.
“We really need people from all walks of life to become foster carers – the more life experience you have, the better.”
Meanwhile, almost all young people attended the care leavers lunch in Northallerton, with a few of them travelling from outside of North Yorkshire to join in the celebrations.
Reflecting on the experience, one care leaver said: “I get a lot out of spending time with other care leavers.”
Another care leaver added: “I enjoy these so much – they’ve become part of my Christmas now.”
North Yorkshire Council’s corporate director of children and young people’s service, Stuart Carlton, said: “Our care leavers have also had a brilliant time with a great atmosphere. We offer key support throughout the year, but at Christmas time it’s vital to show our young people they are not alone and that our support is always on hand.”
Fostering North Yorkshire is offering a £500 golden hello to all newly approved foster carers between now and December 31. There are a range of opportunities for anyone interested in fostering, including short break fostering or planned regular sleepovers which provide options for adults who work full-time.
Foster carers receive full training and support to help turn young lives around. There are also tax-free payments and allowances for every night a carer fosters.
More information is available at www.northyorks.gov.uk/fostering-north-yorkshire or by calling 01609 534654 to speak to a member of the team.