Members of the LGBTQ+ community are being encouraged to consider adoption and fostering to grow their family.
The initiative comes as part of a national awareness week, promoted by Wigan Council, aimed at dispelling concerns that gender or sexual orientation could stand in the way.
Speaking as part of LGBT+ Adoption and Fostering Week, Councillor Paula Wakefield, Lead member for Equalities at Wigan Council, urged anyone who could provide a loving home for a child to explore their options.
She said: “There are children in our borough right now who need safe, loving families to care for them.
“It doesn’t matter to us if you are cisgender, transgender, non-binary, straight, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, gender fluid, or if you prefer to use your own terms.
“It doesn’t matter if you are single or not.
“What’s important is that you are comfortable with who you are and that you could offer a child a stable and caring home.”
As part of the week, local foster carers and adopters from the LGBTQ+ community have been sharing their experiences.
Sammy and Leah are foster carers from Bickershaw.
Sammy said: “We had never been worried about being a same sex couple as we’ve always been happy with who we are.
“But when we talked about fostering, we wondered if being a same sex couple would hinder our chances of helping these kids.
“I was very open with Emma (our assessor) from the start about our reservations and she soon sorted that out. Applications from everyone are accepted.
“We’ve spoken to other LGBTQ+ couples who have all had positive experiences too.”
Leah added: “Please don’t let your sexuality be the reason you don’t become a foster carer as it is the most rewarding and selfless thing you can do.
“Being a same-sex couple doesn’t make one bit of difference when it comes to caring for children.”
LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week runs from 7-13 March this year.
It aims to encourage the LGBTQ+ community to consider building a family and raises awareness of different parenting options.
In 2021, one in six adoptions in England were to same sex couples.
Sarah and Jenny, from Wigan, adopted siblings seven years ago. They are open about both the challenges and the many positive moments that adopting as an LGBTQ+ couple can bring.
Sarah said: “There are still times when being an LGBTQ+ parent brings some challenges.
“But the children are proud to have two mums.
“We’ve explained to them that all families are different; some children have a mum and a dad, some have two dads, some have two mums, some just live with one parent, some have step parents, some children live with their nans.
“It doesn’t matter as long as everybody loves each other.”
This month there will be online information sessions about fostering on Wednesday 9 March and Wednesday 16 March. To find out more about fostering with Wigan Council and to book a place on one of the events, go to www.wigan.gov.uk/fostering
To find out more about adoption and to read more about different adopters’ experiences go to www.togetherforadoption.co.uk